Watch a rare interview of Ma$e and Kanye West from 1998
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Watch a rare interview of Ma$e and Kanye West from 1998

When Kanye West signed with Roc-A-Fella in 2002, it spotlighted the producer and rapper. However, before 2002, the musician operated somewhat in the shadows and was a figure who remained behind the scenes. During the 1990s, Kanye spent much time in Chicago under No I.D’s wing. However, the latter years of the decade West spent in New York following a meeting with Kyambo Joshua, a Roc-A-Fella A&R.

Old footage of West rarely surfaces, and fans have only been privy to post-2002 videos of the producer. However, recently a 1998 clip of Ma$e and Kanye talking at Jermaine Dupri’s birthday party has been unearthed.

The 1998 interview was recorded for and featured an interviewer. Beginning with Ma$e, the reporter asked, “Was you hitting, uh, what’s her name, Brandy?” To which the emcee responded, “She just got a crush on me. That’s all I can really say. That’s not my girl.” Ma$e also elaborated on upcoming projects from the Harlem World collective and more.

Following Ma$e, viewers get an interview with a young, humble Kanye West. In the video, the College Dropout artist is wearing large circular-framed spectacles and a silk shirt. It is irrefutable that Kanye’s facial structure looked different before his 2002 car accident. Irrespective of his looks, West made sure to represent his city by shouting out his people in Chicago. 

It is odd that, based on the interview alone, it appears Kanye Was more mature at 21 than he is now at the ripe old age of 45. At this point in time, Kanye was working for Kyambo Joshua at his production company named ‘Hip-Hop’. In 1998 West would have his first big break with a track on Jay-Z’s third album, Volume 2…Hard Knock Life. Ma$e would continue to work with Harlem world. However, by the early 2000s, he was recruited to become a member of The Diplomats—another Harlem-based crew.

There is no need to say Ye went on to become hugely successful as a solo artist. On the contrary, Ma$e had a short burst of critical acclaim as part of The Diplomats but wasn’t able to make that all-important transition to a solo career artist. West may have regressed and stirred controversy along the way, but there is no doubt that he ascended rapidly with his exceptional artistry.

You can see the 1998 footage in the video below.