Kanye West: The Birth Of An Artist Witnessed By MTV Staffer

By Whitney-Gayle Benta

Like my colleagues Rahman, Shaheem, Erica and Yasmine, I have many fond memories of Kanye West's early days as he transitioned from producer to musician. The story that sticks out the most was during his first tour.

In 2004, the same year Kanye released his debut album, The College Dropout, he was also asked to join Usher's the Truth Tour as the opening act.

I was a part of a small crew that was sent down to North Carolina to do an interview with Usher and cover his show. Since Ush was the big star of the evening, he automatically received all the attention from everyone. His set was so expensive and well choreographed, he even incorporated trampolines into the show.

Since this was Kanye's first tour, naturally his set was extremely modest. It consisted of Kanye, DJ A-Trak, loyal brother in hip-hop GLC and most importantly his signature College Dropout teddy bear mascot. Despite a small production budget, Kanye rocked his show and gave 100 percent to the crowd.

The best part of this experience was that I got a chance to witness firsthand how Kanye utilized his time on tour to study Usher, a certified pro. Instead of hanging out backstage or heading to the hotel after his set, Kanye made sure he took in all the details of the headliner's show, because he knew that one day he'd have his shot.