Music super-star Kanye West has definitely made his mark on the industry for 2015. Constantly changing the game and himself it’s hard to guess what Kanye will do next, but one thing Kanye has always stayed consistent with is his spectacular beat making abilities.
West uses four primary pieces for sampling, sequencing and recording duties:

Akai MPC2000 MIDI Production Center

Roland VS-1880 24-bit Digital Studio Workstationroland 

ASR-10 Keyboardasr101

“I recorded College Dropout with just that,” West says. “I got a record player with no top on it. It’s a Gemini, just like me. Like most Geminis, I am two people: I’m a rapper and a producer. Hell, yeah.”

West’s minimalism doesn’t affect his output. His debut, The College Dropout (Roc-a-fella/Def Jam, 2004), boasts cameos from the Harlem Boy’s Choir and a few of hip-hop’s elite — Mos Def, Ludacris, Dirt McGirt (formerly Ol’ Dirty Bastard) and Freeway — as well as some outstanding vocal samples. West doesn’t stress over his skills; he is more concerned with sound and style.

“I don’t give a fuck about equipment or technique,” West says. “It is just about how it sounds at the end of the day. My claim to fame is to get the most out of the least: simplify. I go through my closet every month and give away all the clothes that I don’t really love. I have a better chance of putting on something good every morning if I just have all hot shit.”

One of West’s trademarks, besides classic ’70s soul loops, is ample use of speed. Almost every other track on The College Dropout features a sped-up vocal sample, be it Dinah Washington on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” or Chaka Khan on “Through the Wire.”

“I sample them at regular speed, then speed them up inside the ASR-10,” he explains. “I just put the pitch up on the sampler, and it will go faster. The ASR-10 is like my left hand. I can chop samples into 61 pieces without wasting any memory. A lot of old songs are too slow to rap on. So I got to speed them up to a rappable tempo.”

By Ken Micallef

Feb 1, 2004 12:00 PM