Last night, hilariously named Soundcloud user Trilly Madison uploaded eight beat tapes, supposedly the early work of controversy-laden Life of Pablo rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West when he was still an aspiring Chicago-based producer in the mid ‘90s. Before he blew up with the release of his critically acclaimed debut album The College Dropout in 2004, West was living in the Windy City, creating beats for local rappers, revamping classic soul records in a basement studio and beginning his fledgling hip-hop career as part of a now-defunct rap group.
These several rare tracks were unearthed as part of a tape being sold on eBay, which was purchased more than a year ago by a member of a Kanye fan forum called Kanye to The. The tape, however, was only uploaded to Soundcloud as of yesterday, where die-hard fans of the rapper might recognize familiar beats which have since been featured on Infamous Syndicate’s “What You Do to Me” and the minor works of other hip-hop artists. On the tape, reportedly from 1997, longtime listeners can detect the distinctive smooth, soul-based sound of Kanye’s more primitive beats, which would eventually evolve into the choppy, heavily-sampled sound that characterizes the musician’s current work.
Naturally, we can’t be sure that these tracks are the authentic work of the Yeezus rapper, with only a questionable eBay purchase and a post on a Kanye forum as our sources, but the tape certainly sounds like the kind of ballsy, self-possessed, innovative work that we’ve come to expect from the outspoken artist, though he had barely turned 20 at the time of its supposed production. To hear the tape and decide for yourself, check out all eight tracks below.