While he respects colleague like Bleek. Kanye speaks of Shawn Carter in a reverent tone. That makes the events on Nov. 25, 2003, seem even stranger. Conspicuous by his absence at Jay-Z’s farewell show was Kanye West, a man responsible for many of the hits performed that evening.
“I know the [September 2002 concert] stuck in Jay-Z’s memory,” he says. “Everyone knows I might do some shit to completely embarrass them. So, Jay-Z didn’t want to take any chances with the loose cannon of Roc-A-Fella Records. I was definitely hurt when I was not on that stage…[But] if anybody owes me nothing, it’s Jay-Z. He’s done so much for me.”
The in-house relationships may be solid, but there’s been grumbling from an old Chicago associate, producer Icedrake [Mike Guy], the younger brother of Shawna. Drake claimed that he and Kanye were a production duo, and insinuates he was cut out of potential work with D-Dot back in the late-‘90s, something Kanye brushes off. “He is one of the main reasons I change my cellphone number all the time,” he laughs. “Look at my personality. Do you think I would be in a production group with someone? My whole shit is I want to show what I can do on my own.”
Change Clothes…And Go
Tonight, Dec. 19, 2003, Kanye West is once again performing in front of over 20,000 people in his hometown, at WGCI’s Big Jam holiday concert at the United Center. Because of his hectic schedule there’s a sense of urgency back at the W. Clothes are scattered everywhere like it’s the first day of school—“This is what happens when you have no stylist and you care about clothes”—and he still manages an 11th-hour trip to the Louis Vuitton store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile to cop a $400 pair of gray sneakers and a $900 blue backpack. When Kanye hits the stage, he atones for his flunked exam back in September 2002.
“I wish Jay would come to one of my shows and see how the people love me now,’ he says. “Because I look up to him so much, I want him to be proud of what I built…The most unlikely to succeed commanding 20,000 people and helping the Roc-A-Fella legacy live on.”
With past experiences motivating him, Kanye West is fulfilling the unrealistic expectations he set for himself in grammar school. And now that The College Dropout sold 441,000 copies its first wekk, for once in his career. Kanye West is not the underdog. He’s triumphed over everything from car accidents to his own temperament, but is still welcoming cynics, almost out of habit.
“Can you really say at this point there is something impossible for Kanye West? That there is a wall or ceiling you can put to the man?” he crows after learning of his first week estimates. The subtle smirk on his face has no quickly morphed into a grin as if he’s admiring his own gall. He then sites back and continues without a hint of humility, “Or are you finally going to say, ‘Damn, if he said it, there might just be a chance?’”