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The Internet Is Written In Ink

Kanye West Recycles Lyrics From Old Material

He used to be in a group called The Go Getters and he has been borrowing their old lyrics, and some of his own, and using them in new material for over a decade.

by Ryan Bassil
13 August 2013, 11:38am

We delve into musicians' HTML attics, searching to see what remains of their earliest forays online. Sometimes there's astonishing early material that has only been heard by a handful of people. Sometimes it's just them being a dick in the comments section of Gawker. Whatever happens though, The Internet is Written in Ink.

Long before Kanye West was afforded the power of deciding if you were allowed to finish your sentences, he was in a hip-hop group called The Go-Getters.

Formed in Chicago in the early 2000s, the group included GLC, Arrowstar and Timmy G. The Go Getters meandered around the Kon-Man Productions conglomerate, working with artists like Rhymefest, Mikkey, Really Doe and generally, people that Kanye forgot about once he had his first gold plaque up on the wall. They recorded a bunch of songs, made a few radio appearances, and took part in a few promo shoots. Here’s one of their press shots:

Despite Kanye announcing that The “Go Getters rhyme like, should've been signed twice” on College Dropout cut “Two Words”, the group never put out an official album. Obviously you can still hear them though, because the internet happened and about ten years ago, the tracks made the rounds under an unofficial release titled World Record Holders.

You can listen to one below, it’s called “Uh Oh!”, and it reminds me of the type of R’n’B phrasing that used to frequent early 2000s chart music.

It’s alright, right? You see Kanye truly is a black Beatle, following some the same path as The Fab Four, dropping massive pop hits on early records before getting experimental from their fourth record onwards. Where The Beatles put out the White Album, Kanye put out 808s and Heartbreak.

(P.S while we’re here, can someone please release a smooth cut of “Uh Oh!” that rhymes the words “sucker” and “buster”?)

The similarities go further, though. If there was no “Strawberry Fields Forever”, or “I Am The Walrus” or “Fixing A Hole” then John Lennon would have had nothing to reference on “Glass Onion”. Yeezy also enjoys that self-referencing hype. In fact, it’s almost as if he borrowed his own lyrics. Let’s take a look.

Here’s his track, “Dreamkillers”.

It has a lyric that says, “Cause we the leaders, and they the followers / And we the nut busters, and they the swallowers”. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s basically a pre-written version of the “I’d rather be a dick than a swallower” confession from “New Slaves”, a track that was released over a decade later.

Ever since freestyles happened, rappers have been recycling lyrics. Kanye’s done it himself, basically rapping a whole verse from “Gorgeous” on Hot 97. But, the interesting thing about Kanye is that lyrics from actual tracks, not freestyles, have been used on later material, often years after they originally aired. It’s as if he’s running dry, or living in certainty that none of us have heard his old mix tapes. However, we have, and it’s not the only reference that’s been borrowed. Here’s the rest:

On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy opener, “Dark Fantasy”, Kanye announces that he has “had so much head, [he] woke up in Sleepy Hollow”. But, on Freshman Adjustment cut “Living In A Movie”, he states, “like Sleepy Hollow, see she swallow”.

There’s “Self Conscious”, also taken from the Freshman Adjustment, which features the original use of the “Man, I promise, she’s so self conscious, she has no idea what she doing in college” verse from “All Falls Down”.

On “Wack Niggaz”, which has a beat that requires immediate head movement, Kanye not only promises to “kill y’all niggas on that lyrical shit”, but also announces that he’s “got a white strap, black handle, [he] got jungle fever”. Which is a reference that was later used on Watch The Throne'sNo Church In The Wild”, which says “coke on her black skin / made a stripe like a zebra, I call that jungle fever”.

At 2:58, on the above video, Kanye states, “She prolly look good, but what’s scary to me/ Henny makes girls look like Halle Berry to me”, which turned into the exact same bar on “New Workout Plan”.

On an old remix of Cassidy’s “My Drink n My 2 Step”, he uses the same bar that he later used on Cruel Summer’s “Mercy”, “Most rappers taste level ain’t at my waste level”.

We all borrow, and rework, stuff from our past. It’s like shitting in the disabled toilet: it’s taboo, but we all do it anyway. If anything, it proves that Kanye is but a mere mortal, capable of great feats, but also willing to revisit and improve upon his old work.

But, before I go, did anyone ever call him up “Neva Gonna Stop Me”, which includes the line - “I hate lame niggas, I hate gay niggas, I hate a dick riding I-I-I I know Kanye Niggas.”? Shit, you got me bro.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanBassil

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