Video of the day: 19-year-old Kanye West

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As we all know by now, the Internet is a series of tubes, and sometimes when you clean the pipes, depending on how long its been since you last had your Internet plumber check them, you uncover gems like this from the mid-90s, (along with hamster dances, pics of Teri Hatcher in only a Superman cape, and South Park Star Wars Episode I trailers). It’s the Internet the way Al Gore intended when he invented it.

Behold, the year was 1996….Monica Lewinsky was deciding what to write under “Skills” in her resume for her White House internship, Nicolas Cage was overacting in everything, (when his movies were still awesome), and a young Kanye West was “keeping MCs lookin’ out” on a small stage somewhere in Chicago.

The video itself is an homage to mid-90s home video recording technology, and the cameraman presses almost every stock effect button at his disposal. He’s only a star-wipe and a freeze frame color mosaic away from a Kids Incorporated opening and I can only imagine his career as a wedding videographer has been a lucrative one.

However, the subject matter that he has captured is a captivating one. It’s Kanye before Kanye, without the theatrics, without the brash, defiant, temper-tantrum attitude, but still brimming with bravado, albeit in this case, probably the only time its ever been recorded, it’s in check and used to push the persona of the song as opposed to the singer.  Another notable aspect of the video: young Kanye has rap skills. The cadence, fundamentals, and timing are all there. What’s more, it seems as though he has more variety in his cadences and rhyme counts in this early video — when he didn’t have his own showmanship and ridiculous beats to rely on — than he does now.

This video is the equivalent of coming across tape of Ali as a sparring partner, or finding an early notebook by J.K. Rowling titled, “Wands and Kids and Flying Broomstick Games and Stuff.”


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