Kanye West‘s rise to fame, from producer to Hip Hop icon is well documented. Like most prolific artists, however, much of his earliest work has been lost to time. While it’s hard to imagine ‘Ye struggling to make it into the Hip Hop elite, according to writer and blogger Larry “The Blackspot” Hester, there was a time when he was out here in these streets, sending out his mixtape just like so many aspiring rappers and producers.
The difference is, Hester says, Yeezy’s talent was recognizable even when nobody knew his name.
For this installment of Ancient Hip Hop History, Hester recounts the time he got an incredible demo tape from an unknown artist. “I had a column where I would give exposure to up-and-coming and independent rap artists,” he said. “So everyday I would get piles and piles of tapes. A lot of them were garbage. Trash compactor. All types of wack stuff. Every now and then you would get a gem and one of those gems by an artist that didn’t send any contact information along with the music. Can I tell you how awesome this tape was? Like, the music was incredible it was so good.” Unfortunately, Hester couldn’t track down the artist, because he didn’t leave any contact information with the tape.
Fast forward several years later, after West had officially blown up as a producer and was about to come out with his first single, “Through the Wire.” Hester connected the dots. “I started to remember that he mentioned on the tape that his name was Kanye a few times.”
Eventually, Hester was able to interview Kanye and, of course, he brought up the demo tape. Watch the latest episode of Ancient Hip Hop History above to see how Yeezy reacted coming face-to-face with one of his earliest fans.