Kanye West’s 1997 Beat Tape Travels To The Past In A “Spaceship” (Audio)

In 1998, Kanye West the producer broke through in a major way. The hungry artist from Chicago, Illinois landed on two big albums, care of joints on Foxy Brown’s platinum #1, Chyna Doll (see: “My Life”) and Jermaine Dupri’s star-studded solo debut, Life In 1472 (see: the Nas-assisted “Intro [Turn It Out].”) In both instances, West shared the credits with then Bad Boy Records hit-maker D-Dot, who would mentor the producer in the late 1990s.

The year prior, Mr. West was still trying to get his foot in the door of the industry. A decade before he released Graduation, Kanye-To-The was shopping beat tapes, not unlike his influences such as J Dilla, Pete Rock, and Diamond D. One such tape, is believed to have surfaced online.

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Trilly Madison digitized a cassette tape with “Kanye’s Beat Sept. ’97” on the label, and uploaded for Heads to hear. Eight tracks in total, ears will catch a sample-savvy style, quite different from West’s later Roc-A-Fella Records work. If anything, this more aligns with some of the programming and arrangements heard on 2010s work on his own album, or tracks for Pusha T.

Y’all don’t know my struggle
Y’all can’t match my hustle
You can’t catch my hustle
You can’t fathom my love dude
Lock yourself in a room doin’ five beats a day for three summers.” – Kanye West, “Spaceship.”

This is a look back into the spacecraft.