Kanye West has evolved as an artist, but The College Dropout hasn’t really changed much in the 10 years since he dropped his Grammy Award-winning debut album.
Through the years Yeezy has had a wealth of ideas, not just in music, but in fashion, design and technology as well–though he has charged some with marginalizing his creative. It’s a fear that Kanye has had for some time.
In this vintage interview from 2002, a young Yeezy showed off a tattoo on his left arm with a list of songs that he produced and ultimately shaped his career, like like Jay Z’s “This Can’t Be Life” and ’Ye’s own “Hey Mama.” As he was running down the titles, West stopped at Beanie Sigel’s 2001 track “Nothing Like It” and paused to make what is now a clairvoyant point.
“It’s ’Nothing Like It,’ I try to make my music where it’s nothing like what I do and a lot of times I lose out because of that,” he explained, citing what he saw then as a weakness. “I’m always trying to be so creative that sometimes I can create something and a whole bunch of people can go run with it and make a lot of money off of it.
“I’m feeling like I want to give the public something new, so it’s like other people capitalize off of it and I just hope that’s not my downfall. I just hope that I can keep creating,” he continued.
Eleven years later, Kanye went on a media blitz blasting those who marginalized his creativity, criticizing Nike for what he saw as a mismanagement of his Air Yeezy sneaker deal and throwing Fendi under the bus for passing up his idea for leather jogging pants.
In December, West finalized a big-time deal with Adidas , meaning perhaps his creativity outside of the studio will finally be fostered in a way that he sees fit, but it all goes back to that tat (and the music).
“This tat means a lot to me. I put a lot of the songs on here that’s changed my life or it just means something at a point in my career,” Kanye said pointing to his ink back then. “That way when my family is in a million dollar home and they look back and say, ’Dad, who you got that tattoo, why I can’t get no tattoo?’ I’ll be like look, ’This tattoo is the reason why we’re here, why we’re out here right now.”