This story is over 5 years old.


Watch Kanye Perform an Original Version Of "Gold Digger" in a Town Hall a Year Before 'The College Dropout' Landed

He's wearing a backpack and John Legend is on the piano.
Ryan Bassil
London, GB

Every so often a #super #rare video gets miraculously pulled from the void and placed on the world wide web. Usually recorded on a VHS camera, the clips—which range from Jay Z's first televised freestyle to a pre-fame Justin Bieber busking on a Canadian street with a guitar twice his size—serve to remind us we're growing old, time exists, and real talent prevails from now until forever.

The latest in #super #rare videos comes from rapping news-item, Kanye West. Filmed back in 2003, the clip shows a young Kanye performing the original version of "Gold Digger," a year before his debut record The College Dropout reached shelves. The construct of time is evident throughout the clip. For one, Kanye's wearing a backpack, a snapback, and a Reese's Pieces branded shirt, looking like one of those skateboarding, water-cooler backpack rappers, rather than today's fashion-house, world-dominating threadware magnate. For seconds, the performance seems to be in a town hall. But more than the two visual differences, the biggest sign that time's passed comes from the structure of "Gold Digger." There's no sample of Ray Charles "I Got a Woman" or radio-friendly hook. Instead you've got John Legend playing a rough piano lead and Kanye initating the oldest trick in rap performance—the hey ladies, hey fellas, let me hear you say "Ohhhhhhh oh" call-and-respond.

After watching the video, we've learned an important life lesson. From Marky Mark Wahlberg’s humble boyband beginnings, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson’s polo neck past, Ryan Gosling’s fabulous childhood vogueing sessions, and now Kanye West, the world's greatest benovelent force, one thing has become clear: you can be whoever you want to be. You just have to go out there and be it. Time only exists to remind us where we've come from, and where we're going.

You can find Ryan Bassil on Twitter: @RyanBassil