Let’s turn the clock back to the 2009 MTV VMA’s when Kanye West infamously rushed the stage during Taylor Swifts acceptance speech. This is a moment that has been replayed and etched in Award show history. The two have since mended fences and are rumored to be working together on a future project. Immediately following the VMAs, Kanye retreated to Hawaii to get away from the public. Complex Editor-in-Chief Noah Callahan-Bever had the privilege of travelling with West to his island sanctuary where he would set up a “Rap Camp,” where he invited notable artists that he was close with including Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Nicki Minaj and RZA to join his writing process for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
The result of this meeting of the minds was a frenzied brainstorming and recording sessions, with West block-booking the recording studio’s three session rooms indefinitely and stationing collaborating artists in each room to work on a different track simultaneously. The experiment was originally recorded for the December/January 2011 issue of Complex magazine. The full feature has now been released online by Complex.
Check out the excerpt below.
Kanye’s process is communal—he literally goes around the room asking everyone there what “power” means to them, throws out lines to see how they’re received, and works out his exact wording with whomever is around to help. But his output is most definitely entirely his own—one listen to that consistently unique cadence, word choice, and sense of humor reveals that. Rappers, producers, and entourage are all welcome to offer ideas or phrases, but the funny thing is, nearly every suggestion is met with, “That’s really not at all a word I would ever say, but don’t stop offering ideas, thanks!” In fact, that day, a rah-rah couplet is offered by a rapper in the room (who will remain nameless) to close a line on “Power,” and Kanye jokingly says it would be “great—if my name was LL and I was making ‘Mama Said Knock You Out Pt. II.’” You get the feeling it’s addition by subtraction with him—the demonstration of what he doesn’t like illuminates what he does like.