Friday, July 23, 2021

Why Roc-A-Fella Signed Kanye West

The creativity, the energy, the plan of action Kanye West puts into his music is inevitable. How could you not sign a artist with so much to add to the growing music industry.

Before 'Ye's debut album The College Dropout was released and he became a household name, the rapper worked as an in-house producer at Roc-A-Fella records and is often credited for much of the success Jay Z's 2001 album The Blueprint.

Kanye's aim was always to make it big as a rapper, but being an established producer everyone saw that as his role first and foremost. In the end, Damon Dash reluctantly signed Kanye to Roc-A-Fella Records, just to make sure he didn't lose him as a producer.

West released his first six records on Roc-A-Fella, the label owned by Jay-Z. However, when Def Jam bought the label in 2004, the label owner and rapper reportedly sold the rights to records including 'College Dropout' and 'Late Registration' in a deal that would secure his own masters.

Unbelievably, Rock-A-Fella were initially reluctant to sign West, with Jay Z revealing down the line that they were unsure due to West's formidable reputation and work as a producer.

The first time Kanye West asked the folks at Roc-A-Fella records to let him rap, there was an uncomfortable silence. As a producer, West had churned out hits for Roc-A-Fella’s intimidating trio of stars—Jay-Z, Cam’ron and Beanie Siegel—and earned praise for his great ear and tireless ethic.

But in 2002 the idea that someone like West could be a successful rapper was faintly absurd. “Kanye wore a pink shirt with the collar sticking up and Gucci loafers,” recalls Damon Dash, then Roc-A-Fella CEO. “It was obvious we were not from the same place or cut from the same cloth.” Says Jay-Z: “We all grew up street guys who had to do whatever we had to do to get by. Then there’s Kanye, who to my knowledge has never hustled a day in his life. I didn’t see how it could work.”

It was Roc-A-Fella, however, that eventually gave him a deal—and scored big when The College Dropout was a major hit. And, as it became a success, so did the aesthetic that the record execs had been so wrong about.

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