By Rahman Dukes
During my 10-year-plus experience at MTV News, I've had the pleasure of watching some of the biggest artists' careers take off. Fabolous: check. Alicia Keys: check. And none other than the esteemed Kanye West: cccccchhhhheeeeccckk!
Like my coworkers Erica, Shaheem and Yasmine, I've known Kanye for quite some time, and it's been a real joy watching his rise to stardom. I met 'Ye during his time with Jay-Z, producing tracks for the classic Blueprint album. My intern at the time noticed an article we ran on the fledging producer and informed us that 'Ye was his friend. And to put any doubt to rest, that very next day my fregging intern — my intern! — shows up at the MTV office on the 29th floor with none other than Mr. West. Incredible. At that time Kanye was an energetic, humble producer. He also told everyone that he was into rapping. As Shaheem pointed out, producers turned rappers were traditionally known to not go over so well, and in this case we had no reason to think Kanye would be any different. Boy, how wrong would we end up being.
I've had a number of memorable experiences with Kanye, from him playing tracks such as "Hey Mama" and "Jesus Walks" for us in a little Caribbean restaurant not far from MTV to chopping it up with him just days after his tirade against MTV during the 2007 VMAs. To show how real a dude he was, Kanye let it be known to me and Sha that it was all love with us, no matter what. Real talk.
As you'll peep in this video clip, the most vivid encounter I had with Kanye was around the time of his premiere of his video for "Through the Wire." All of the industry heads were holed up in Jay-Z's 40/40 Club to get a first look at his tragic accident/ first single.
Following the premiere, I congratulated Kanye on the clip. "Thank you, man," he replied. On my way out the door, I thought to myself, "Was that video a little too over the top? Is he capitalizing too much off his accident? Be thankful you're here."
Not even two days later, I found myself in a position similar to his. The day after the 4th of July, I was hospitalized for two weeks after surviving a near-fatal car accident. After months of rehabilitation, I finally returned to MTV.
One of the first projects that came across my plate was covering a Kanye West video shoot out in Brooklyn. The troops and I made our way out to the video set, and as soon as we walked in the door, there stood Kanye in the back with his friends. He came over to say waddup, and while attempting to shake my hand, Kanye realized a cast was on my arm. "What happened?" he asked me. I informed him of the accident and saw the concern in his face. To make the convo a little more positive, I told him that at first I had my doubts about his "Through the Wire" video until it came on while I was on a visit with my cousin, who was also injured in the accident. "Look at him," I told my cousin, pointing to the monitor. "He went through it and made it out stronger. And so will we." After hearing that story, Kanye again thanked me and extended himself for anything I needed.
To put it plain and short, I want to thank you, Kanye, for years of entertainment ... and inspiration.