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Talib Kweli and Kanye West have made several collaborations. The connection between the two began 2002, with the release of the Brooklyn, New York MC’s first solo album, Quality, following full-length projects with Black Star and Reflection Eternal.

While recording in New York City, Kweli says his Black Star partner Def was late to a studio session. Appearing on an episode of Drink Champs Podcast the Javotti Media founder explains the particular situation, “Kanye West comes through the [studio] door. I’m doing a session for my Quality album, and I’m waiting on Mos Def to show up, because we have a song on my Quality album called ‘Joy.’ The song was about kids and they`r birth and Mos Def was on the song. It took him a long time to record this verse. By this time, he was doing movies; he was coming up in the game.” Mos Def had released his own solo debut, 1999’s Black On Both Sides, which was certified gold.It was pretty hard to talk to the guy at that time . Kanye comes through the door. I’d never seen this nigga, never heard this nigga. He said, ‘I’m here to meet Mos Def.’ I said, ‘Well guess what? He might not show up,’” Talib recalls with a chuckle. Kanye explained that Mos had requested the meeting to hear some of the young producer’s beats. “I said, ‘Well, play me the beats; I’m working on an album’,” Talib says. “He played me four beats that night. All them beats made it to my album.” The final version of Quality included three West tracks in singles “Get By” and “Good To You,” as well as “Guerilla Monsoon Rap,” which included early West vocals. “I was in disbelief becouse i had never heard of the guy before .”

That same year, Kweli brought Kanye West to join him on Common’s Electric Circus Tour. On the bus together, he came to understand ‘Ye’s personal vision for the stuff he wanted to work on in the future. “This nigga played me ‘Jesus Walks’ when I first met him,” Talib says, clarifying that it was in the first month of their collaborative friendship. That would have been years before The College Dropout released. As the Indie 500 MC recalls, it was the finished version that would later win a Grammy Award at a time before the MC/producer had signed with Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam Records. “He played me ‘Hey Mama,’ I said, ‘I’ve never heard nothing so beautiful in my life.’” That song would appear on 2005’s Late Registration, two years before West’s mother, Dr. Donda West, would pass away. “He played me a bunch of those songs and tried to convince him to drop that shit out ” He said, ‘No, no, no. This was before he had a deal—no deal! He said, ‘My first album is called College Dropout, and I will include these songs. My next album is called Late Registration, the ‘Hey Mama” song that’s gonna be on ‘Jesus Walks’ is gonna be my single from College Dropout. When he put it out, ‘Jesus Walks’ was the single. He even says it on the to the song forecasting it.”

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