Long before Kanye West was the biggest rapper in the world, he was apparently just a studio rat trying to find his place in the music industry. In Jensen Karp’s new book, Kanye West Owes Me $300, the former rapper who went by the name Hot Karl shared a number of stories about his experiences in the music industry, and notably about his time working with Kanye. Karp discussed at length what Kanye was like during his younger days, and in an excerpt of the book shared by Vulture, Karp opened up about his own experiences with young Yeezus.
In particular, Karp told a story about the time Kanye played him and a room full of other producers and A&Rs an early version of “Jesus Walks” years before it actually came out. “As the song played, Kanye acted out and mouthed his lyrics, something he always did while his own music played, and I assume still does,” Karp wrote. “He acted as if a music video was always being filmed around him, displaying yet another example of the unaware enthusiasm (and egotism) that would make him the butt of almost every joke at Baseline.”
Interestingly enough, Karp said that while some people in the room gave Kanye positive comments on the song, most laughed at him when he left the room. “A few people even mocked him, mimicking his rap voice and making fun of his over-the-top zeal. One major producer in the room even asked his assistant to make sure Kanye never performed like that again,” Karp wrote. So yeah, the same song that later went on to win Kanye a Grammy for Best Rap Song in 2005 had him laughed out of a studio once upon a time. Just goes to show how much can change with some hard work. You can read the full excerpt from Karp’s book here, and purchase it now.