Once, I met Kanye West. We didn't shake hands or anything, but it was both bizarre and amazing, and I’ve realized recently that I’m not alone in having a memorable First Time Meeting Kanye West story. Plenty of others do, too, and together, we can get a little picture of what an otherwise mythical situation is actually like.
But we'll get to the others in a second.
For me, it was almost exactly four years ago, and I was working at XXL magazine. We were in talks to get Yeezy on an upcoming cover. Three or four people were scheduled to be in the meeting with him in the office. I was not one of those people.
So I had accepted the fact I wouldn't be crossing paths with 'Ye. Until I was startled by a shouting voice.
"I NEED EVERYONE IN THE XXL VIDEO ROOM RIGHT NOW."
I stepped out of my cube, looked down the hall, and lo and behold, some 25 feet away, there's Kanye West, shouting commands at people who had no idea he'd be there that day -- people who worked not just for XXL, but for other magazines in the company like Dog News and Guns & Ammo. On a dime, everyone in sight (myself included) began making a mad dash down the hall, toward a big conference room.
A ton of us packed in there as Kanye played his new music (this was right before My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy dropped). He did the "Gold Digger"-shoulder-and-head-jerk-back dance as the entire room stared at him and nodded along.
Oh, and he was wearing a suit. This was the Rosewood era, of course.
For those of us that thought it would be OK to turn to a friend in the room and say something about what was going on -- maybe "This is crazy" or "I love this song!" -- we were wrong. One co-worker found this out the hard way, as he began whispering something to the guy next to him. But 'Ye was having none of it -- the focus had to be on the music. He tapped dude on the shoulder, and did one of these, though it was less I'm Gonna Kill You than Please Stop Talking:
From that point on, we all listened to the music in total silence. As he wrapped things up, he left us with final words of wisdom that are so unfathomably incredible that, of the entire ordeal, they're simultaneously the most unbelievable and completely predictable thing that happened.
"I just came up here," he began, "to let y'all know," another brief pause, "that I'm The Greatest."
And like that, he was gone. This is what it's like to meet 'Ye.
He'll Tell You He's Not Just The Greatest, But Also Dope
The first time Dave Chappelle met Kanye, he was showing him sketches from "Chappelle's Show."
"In the middle of it, Kanye's phone rings," the comedian said on "The Tonight Show" earlier this year. "He's like, 'Hello? No, no I can't. Because I'm at the edit for 'The Dave Chappelle Show,' watching sketches that no one's seen before.' "
"And then he goes like this: ''Cause my life is dope, and I do dope sh--.' And he hangs up the phone."
And His Beats Are Dope
"I walk into his house, and I hear 808s & Heartbreak playing -- which is his album," Aziz Ansari said on "Late Show With David Letterman." "And he was just sitting in his living room, bobbing his head. And I was like, 'Hey, uh, Kanye, are you sitting in your own house, bobbing your own head to your own music?'"
"And he goes, 'Yeah, these beats are dope.'"
He'll Tell You He's The Best Rapper
“When I first met Kanye, he was humble and arrogant at the same time, which means that he humbled himself to me, Mos Def and Common and wanted to sign to Rawkus,” Talib Kweli told MTV News in 2011. “And he would come to the shows and studio sessions and soak it up. But he would soak it up and also at the same time be like, ‘I’m the best rapper out. I’m the best-dressed rapper out.’ Even back then, he would be [like], ‘I’m the best-dressed rapper,’ and he didn’t even have a deal. You not even a rapper yet. How you the best-dressed rapper, you know?”
If He Likes You And Your Music, He Might Wanna Executive Produce Your Album
"I sat with him for four or five hours, just writing and talking 'bout ideas and this and that," Rick Ross said on "Juan Epstein," thinking back to a 2002 studio session in Miami, before either were stars. "He said it right there: I wanna executive produce your album."
"We stayed in touch. A little time went by. The week before he got in his accident, we made plans for that following week for him to make beats for me."
Or Invite You To His Show
"I was just chillin' smoking weed, and he just comes out of the crowd, and sees me," Schoolboy Q told Cosmic Kev about the meeting at this year's South by Southwest. "And he walks over and was telling me that he was just bumping my album...he was f--kin' with it. Then he invited me to the show."
And not just to be in the crowd -- to come backstage.
But If He Doesn't Like Your Music, He'll Tell You -- And Then Forget You
In 2008, shortly after Big Sean signed with G.O.O.D. Music, he brought Mike Posner to the studio with Kanye and played him a song they had together.
"I was like, 'Did you like it?'" Posner recalled to VladTV. "He was like, 'Nah, not really, man.' He was like, maybe it could be on someone else' album, like Lupe, but it's not right for Sean. It simultaneously broke my heart and inspired me."
Posner went back to work, and eventually got signed and had some hits.
"I saw him two years later, at an award show. Don C was like, 'Yo, Kanye, you remember Mike Posner?' He was like, 'Man, I just wanna tell you I like some of your songs.' He didn't remember the first part of the story."
And If You Try To Get Signed, He Might Be Too Busy
When Kid Cudi met Kanye at a record store in 2004, long before he signed to G.O.O.D. Music, he was floored. But he mustered up the courage to introduce himself.
Kanye ended a phone call he was on just to talk to the then-unknown musician, who made him a proposition. "I really wanna be signed; can you sign me?" Cudi recalled asking 'Ye, during an interview with MTV News.
"He was like, 'Man, I got so many artists right now..."
Unless He Actually Listens And Sings Your Praises
Big Sean was in high school the first time he met Kanye, when he ran up on him at a local radio station and rapper for him for ten minutes straight. Yeezy then invited him to a private listening session that night, where -- before signing him to G.O.O.D. Music -- he gave props to the aspiring rapper.
"He was like...I just wanna let everybody in the room know that this kid had the courage to rap for me today, and I've been riding around to his CD all day," Sean recalled in an interview with MTV News. "He can really rap. He's really dope. I'm the toughest critic in the game, and I really like it."
He's A "Real Person"
"I actually finally got to meet him today after my first show," Melanie Fiona said in a vlog after her first show opening for 'Ye in 2011. "And he is the coolest dude. Just so, so real. Just a real person. Just loves what he does. And so we spoke and I'm really looking forward to getting to speak more with him and get to know more about him as this tour goes on."
And A "Good Dude"
“This was my first introduction to him. The only thing I could say is that it was a blessing because he came back and looked back," Mannie Fresh told VladTV. "Without knowing him, I just felt like he was a good dude and lent him some equipment or whatever to do what he had to do and he never forgot about it."
With A "Child-Like Soul"
"My childlike creativity, purity and honesty/ Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts," Kanye rapped on "Power."
But a man who has greatly influenced him, filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, praised his "honesty" and "child-like soul" when they first met.
Maybe -- Just Maybe -- He'll Actually Be Honored Just To Meet You
If you're Michael Jackson, that is.
In a recently-published book, "Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days," the King of Pop's bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard recalled what it was like when KW met MJ.
"Once Kanye saw Mr. Jackson, he was the one who was starstruck," they wrote. "He started gushing. 'Oh my God, Mr. Jackson, it's such a pleasure and an honor to meet you. You just don't know. I'm your biggest fan. I love you so much.'"
"The whole time, Kanye was like a kid in a candy store. I've never seen somebody be so humble. To see him that way was surreal. Everybody knows that Kanye can be very arrogant, and here he was, just amazed to be in the same room as Mr. Jackson."
And Maybe -- Just Maybe -- He'll Act Shy Around You
If you're the co-founder of Apple, that is.
Steve Wozniak met Kanye -- at the request of wife Kim Kardashian -- shortly after their daughter, North West, was born.
“‘Let’s leave Kanye and Steve alone, because he’s real shy,’" Wozniak remembered Kim saying, according to Vulture. "And he doesn’t look at me for the first twenty minutes or so; he had an aversion.”
Then, they talked business.
“My advice would probably be pick one narrow category to start with, do it so well you own that category, and then one bowling pin knocks over other bowling pins,” he said. “What is the path to get there? Thank God I’m not a businessman -- I can’t really be expected to have the answers.”
YOU AIN'T GOT THE ANSWERS WOZNIAK.
Ultimately, If You Just Thank Him, He'll Thank You Back
Backstage at the 2013 VMAs, an excited Macklemore ran into 'Ye.
“Thank you for raising the bar as an artist; appreciate it,” he said.
"Thank you very much. Appreciate it," Kanye responded.