Kanye West is a true artist and self-proclaimed genius. Before he was flung into the limelight, West was a producer for Kyambo Joshua’s production house named Hip-Hop. However, as the A&R of Roc-A-Fella, Joshua knew the Chicago beatmaker was exceptional and of the highest calibre, and Jay-Z soon realised this too.
West began working with Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) in 1999, and there was a natural synergy from the beginning. By 2001, Carter’s The Blueprint album was effectively produced by Kanye alone, which solidified the producer’s talent in the eyes of the industry. Following this, Jay-Z signed West to Roc-A-Fella in 2002. Immediately after, the Chicago native began working on his debut album College Dropout.
Released in 2004, many consider College Dropout one of the most outstanding hip-hop projects ever, and nobody can refute its greatness. The body of work is revered for its soulful sonics and exceptional creativity concerning the use of samples.
Taking a total of two years to produce and record fully, College Dropout was a far cry from rushed. However, there is one song featured on the album that West wrote in a mere 15 minutes.
The musician and creative is known for his ingenious use of samples, and for the track ‘All Falls Down’, Kanye decided to sample Lauryn Hill’s ‘Mystery Of Iniquity’ from her live album, MTV Unplugged No 2. West had many singers attempt to sing the track, even Hill herself, but ended up choosing Syleena Johnson’s version.
With the instrumental and chorus already recorded, Kanye had to produce some lyrics of his own to complete the track. In a 2013 interview with the New York Times, Kanye spoke on how he felt that ‘All Falls Down’ was when he came into his own stylistically. Elaborating, the rapper explained how, at first, “[his] raps sounded like a bit like Cam’ron; they sounded a bit like Mase; they sounded a bit like Jay-Z or whoever.”
However, he detailed how, after spending time with the rapper Dead Prez, he slowly but surely developed his style. West then disclosed, “[he] was able to just write ‘All Falls Down’ in 15 minutes.” For the Chicago act, that is extremely fast, considering he had his 2007 track ‘Stronger’ mixed 11 times with over ten different audio engineers to make it perfect. You can listen to ‘All Falls Down’ in the video below.