"; ?> Rocafella BLOG 5.1 | ROC Podcast in the Works
Rocafella.comRocaWear.comOffical Kanye West Web SiteDash Films - Coming Soon


ROC Media Kit: RMK1.0
Quick Reviews
Aztek Escobar
The Charles' Critical Corner

Antman (MIA)
Nikki (coming soon)


Kanye does so why don't you. Speak your mind on the new Messageboard. Its up to you to build the community. Unlike Rocafella.com's forum its free.
Jay-Z & Timbaland »

What do you get when you take the greatest living rapper and the greatest hip hip producer. You get one hot album. Sign the petition and lets make it happen.

by kenn on 10/04/2005 07:17:00 PM

'Life Is the Bridge of a Song'



How do you tell the story [of your life]?
I have a talent for rapping, forever, and it came easy to me. I grew up with my mom, who taught me that if you want something, you have to work hard for it. It was a cliché, but I didn't know that—I was a kid. So I kept thinking rapping was nothing because I'd been doing it for so long. When I finally started paying attention to it, I couldn't get a deal. So I had to start my own record company.

And what about now that you're president of Def Jam?
There's nowhere else but down to go from here. I guess, man, this is one of the weirdest transitions in music history. Being here at the most important rap label in the world—that's not even arguable—it's like a fairytale, like a movie that in the end you say: Come on, this is not a good movie. The transition has been—I wouldn't say difficult, but different—because I'm used to freedom. But now, for the most part, if I'm in New York City, I'm at work every day. I have a real 9-to-5.

Has that been strange?
I remember the first day, having a conversation with the in-house lawyer here, and he was like, well, how much do you want to take on. And I was like, I want to know it all. And then all these papers started coming in, and they never stopped. I was like, what did I do to myself? What the hell did I do to myself? [Laughs] Because I'm sure no one expected me to really work. I'm sure I could have dialed it in, you know what I'm saying? But me, I'm the type of person, when I take something on, I really want to do it. I'm crazy like that. Something's wrong with me. I don't want to dial it in.

Some people would say it's crazy to leave the life you had for all that work.
There's a Twilight Zone that puts the whole thing in perspective. The guy was a heavy gambler, a degenerate gambler, and he'd lose and lose. Then he got three wishes, and he wanted to win in blackjack. He won every time until he went crazy. Because there were no peaks and valleys, no change. It's like Patti LaBelle, she has a beautiful voice, especially when she hits high notes. But if she hit a high note the whole song, you'd never want another like it from her. It's the fact that she eases into it, and that it's just a small part, a bridge of a song, makes it beautiful. And that's what life is. It's the bridge of a song.

And now you've changed how some people think about hip-hop and artists. How does that feel?
To me, my influence still makes me smile, it's humbling, it's like—it's amazing—it's everything. Like, are you serious? Like, I'll be an executive in the street, like it's a 'hood thing to do now? [Laughs] Okay!

Another example is your luxury watch line with Audemars Piguet. That doesn't seem very hip-hop.
Well, it is—soon. Because people have to understand what hip-hop comes from. It comes from a place that had nothing. So it started out as rebellious boys from the street, and people doing something else to escape the reality of what was going on at that time. Then I started making money on it. So when you have your piece of money, you're going to celebrate. That's why they call them nouveau riche. That's what happens. Then you get accustomed to having money, so you want to have everything. You want to show people: I've got some money, and I'm happy—look at this huge chain. But after a while, you've had every diamond in the world and then you really start moving away from the flashier things. You start finding things of quality because you can afford them, and now it's not about finding the loudest piece, it's about finding the best piece.

So it's about evolving a new style, and it seems to be working—British GQ recently recognized you with the International Man of the Year award. The legendary Burt Bacharach—who won the Inspiration Award—even mentioned you in his speech. And when you two chatted afterwards, everyone was talking about the sight of the two of you—young and old, black and white, hip-hop and easy listening—together as a sign of the times.
Yes, and by the way, I'm waiting for someone to really go crazy on me about this. Rap music has done more for racial equality than any other personality or element has done. Racism, hatred, starts in the home, at a young age. But it's hard to really teach hatred when your kid has a picture of Snoop Dogg on the wall. It's really hard to say you should hate this guy, he's less than you. It's like, "Dad, he's cooler than you!" And Jay-Z would never been a room with Burt Bacharach under any other circumstance. You could have done all the marching on Washington and anything you wanted. That would have never happened if it wasn't for black music. Or music in general.

Obviously, you know music well, but did you need a coach or books to learn the business side?
No. I really feel like doing business is just like anything else. Of course, you have to learn the mechanics of it, but it's just like doing anything else. It's more about instincts. And this is the music business, so more so here than anything. The reason Roc-A-Fella was successful was because we didn't know protocol. We won because we didn't know anything. So I think there's a need for a certain ignorance in the music business because it means you're going to try something new. What could a book teach me about that? It's like when I rap, I become just another instrument in the beat. I'm not just rapping, I'm not doing what I want to do, I'm following the track, letting it dictate what I do. And business is the same thing for me. So if you have an artist, you start from the beginning. Let's not just splash the name off the marketing plan and put his name on it and hope the same thing works.

Have you seen mistakes like that being made?
It's weird when you get inside big companies and you see this stuff, the little stuff that's not working. And that's why you have to let more people that don't know how it typically works—I'm not saying ignorant people—but who have good instincts and a good feel for the music and what they're doing—transcending into higher positions. Because people with new ideas, especially, entrepreneurs, don't know how to think in a box.

Free Apple iPod Program