I relate to being the person who people come to for “such a change from the old routine,” but not being the main thing. I had a long-term relationship for seven years with someone who was the head of a label and I felt like I was that change of routine. I was always waiting to become the person who his kids came home to, and it never happened.
“I know one of Kanye’s bodyguards, and he told me that Kanye was looking for me. I just grabbed this bag of discs—these discs hold at least 50 beats apiece—and went to Hawaii. [Laughs.] That was my first time ever going to Hawaii, so I was blown back by the weather and the beach. It’s a beautiful environment to make music in. I immediately said to myself, ‘This is why he’s here!’ No one bothers you and you’re free as a bird; an important part of being creative is being able to be free in a good environment where you can make music and there’s no interruptions or disturbance or anything. When I got there, Kanye was in the chair in the studio getting his hair cut. He played the ‘Power’ song from before he even put the lyrics on it and he was spittin’ the lyrics to me. I’m real critical of emcees, but when I hear Kanye spit, it opens me up like a flower, man. I used to hear him spit my name in his own records before he even got with me, and I used to say to myself, ‘Damn, he says my name in more than two or three records! Maybe he’s trying to let me know he wants to work with me.’ The studio kind of reminded me of back in the days when I used to work on three or four projects at once, doing it all in the studio. That’s what he was doing—running back and forth from room to room to room to room. He had Kid Cudi upstairs, he was working on his album downstairs, then doing a mix on another record, and it straight reminded me of what I used to do back in the ’90s. He played ‘Runaway’—and as soon as I heard the drums come in, I just started laughing. He used my drums from Mecca and the Soul Brother! I used these drums in an interlude before this record called ‘The Basement,’ and those drums come on before the song. I never heard anybody make a song the way he made it out of those drums. I thought that was genius.”