While Kanye West's recently released sixth solo album, Yeezus, may be causing some fans to scratch heads, the super-producer's former collaborator J. Ivy sees the Chicagoan's current work as soul-stirring and progressive. "Kanye is always groundbreaking," the Def Poet tells VIBE. "It's rare that you see somebody able to break ground over and over again so I’m excited."
Having penned a spoken word piece for West's "Never Let Me Down" on the critically-acclaimed The College Dropout in 2004, Ivy is familiar with the musical genius and, surprisingly, dubbed the Legend we know as John. Taking a quick trip down memory lane, the Grammy Award-winning artist speaks on his early interaction with the G.O.O.D. music general.
VIBE: First off, thoughts on Yeezus?
J. Ivy: Everything I've heard, it really really moves my spirit, which I’m excited about. We need that in music today.
It seems like there's a place for it. What do you think about his progression since The College Dropout?
Working with Kanye on his first album, I learned he’s a genius. He knows what he wants, he hears it, and he’s a genius at what he does. Being an artist, I understand just growing and experiencing new things. I love the progression and the growth. It might just be a new expression. Not a lot of artists get to grow within that magnitude.
How did you hop on that project?
I’m in Brooklyn, broke as hell, just moved out there. In the meantime, Kanye got in the car accident and he flew Coodie (director of "Through The Wire") out to L.A. where he was recording. So Coodie called me on a Saturday night like, "Kanye got a song with him and Jay-Z on it and he wants to put a poet on it." He plays the song over the phone and I spit it for him. He’s going crazy then he turns down the music. The people in the background get quiet, and he’s like, "J spit it again." I spit it again and the room exploded. Kanye had me do it over and over and over again. Coodie gets back on the phone like, "Kanye’s flying you out here tomorrow." That moment literally changed my life. Everything about that moment was beautiful. It transformed music and put a very heavy, beautiful vibration in the universe.
In working with Kanye so early on, do you still find that he's accessible?
I don’t think anyone’s untouchable. When I do see Kanye, it’s all love. It’s been a few years since I seen everybody. I’m applauding them and I'm sure their applauding me. This past Sunday, John Legend shouted me out on Oprah’s Next Chapter because I’m the one who came up with the name Legend.
The night I met John Stevens, I started calling him the Legend.
What’s up with you for the near future?
I’m finishing my album Life After Life, shooting to release late summer, early fall. I’m working on that, doing a lot of work with the kids on poetry workshops and doing voice-overs.
Photo Credit: J-Ivy.com