(Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Old School Archives

When Kanye West and Jamie Foxx collided on 'Gold Digger'

Jamie Foxx is a jack of all trades who can turn his hand to anything and make a success of it. His showbiz career began with his first love, performing stand-up comedy, which eventually opened doors into acting on screen, but it was Kanye West who confirmed Foxx as a triple threat.

In fairness to Foxx, even before he’d met Kanye, he’d already been trying to launch his pop career, but nothing quite fell into place. While he was a regular on In Living Colour throughout the nineties, Foxx secured a record deal, but it never made him a star like he imagined. His debut album, 1994’s Peep This was both a commercial failure and a critical disaster.

Over the next nine years, Foxx stayed away from music and instead focused on Hollywood, but that burning passion to record had never gone away.

Then in 2003, everything changed, and although he didn’t know Ye, a production wizard from Chicago was about to supply Foxx with his big musical break. “One day I had a house party and a dude walked in—he had a backpack on, and his jaw was a little swollen,” Foxx remembered on The Cruz Show in 2017. His friends then told Foxx, “He’s the next rapper, he’s the next producer.”

The two then headed to the studio inside Foxx’s house, and the singer was delighted to discover that West had a song with him that he thought his vocals would be perfect for, which would end up being Twista’s ‘Slow Jamz’.

“‘I got it, Kanye, let me perfect what you singin’,'” Foxx remembers. “I’m doing all this R&B stuff ‘cus I’m old, I didn’t know that this was hip hop and Kanye went, ‘Uhh… don’t do that. It’s hip hop, just follow me.’ So in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘This song is wack, he’s never gonna make it.’

“I do the song anyway and I leave to do a bad movie for six months…And when I come back, and they say, ‘Remember that song with Kanye? It’s number one.’ And that’s how I got into music.”

After they managed to create a hit with ‘Slow Jamz’, Foxx got the taste for more, and their mutual producer friend, Jon Brion, who was working with Ye on ‘Gold Digger’, persuaded him to visit them in the studio. When Foxx showed up, Brion worked his magic and convinced Yeezy that he needed him on the track.

While he was in the booth, the hook washed over Foxx, and as he says, “the rest is history”. The hit single became West’s first number one as a lead artist, and at last, Foxx was receiving the recognition for his music that he always craved.

Many assumed that because Foxx played Ray Charles in the 2004 biopic, Ray that West had made the track after being influenced by the film. However, the truth is that he’d had versions of the song rumbling around since 2003 when John Legend performed it live with him in New York.

The chance meeting with West would re-ignite Foxx’s musical career, and he’s since released four solo albums since the dude with a backpack and a swollen jaw rocked up to his house party.