Long before he became Yeezus, and even before he was the College Dropout, Kanye West was a slam poet.
Tuesday turned out to be a bit of a throwback to those days, after a video surfaced of Kanye rapping his 2005 hit-single “Gold Digger” at the 2nd Annual Dynamic Producer Conference in New York City all the way back in 2003 (we first noticed it on the website Pigeons and Planes). The performance features R&B star John Legend on the piano, filling in for Jamie Foxx, and shows Kanye donning his classic, big-backpack, oversized-tee, schoolboy look that made him famous. Only, at this point, his half-baked version of his Late Registration hit was a bit more reminiscent of the poem “18 Years” he showcased on HBO’s Def Jam Poetry years later.
This was the case with a lot of Kanye’s verses throughout his career. If you remember, West frequented Def Jam throughout the early 2000s, where he performed a handful of poems that later found themselves in some of his biggest hits, like “All Falls Down,” or his verse in Rhymefest’s “Brand New.” If you’re ever in need of time to kill, a marathon through his grainy slam performances on YouTube brings chills.