Kanye West has become a musical icon and global mogul, but back in 1996, he was just another up-and-comer trying to make a name for himself — and confident that he would.
In newly released video footage, a 19-year old West is seen freestyling at the opening of hip-hop mecca Fat Beats record store in New York in 1996. The footage was unearthed by DJ Eclipse, the former manager of the legendary shop, who was poring over video of performances from the grand opening of the shop’s 6th Avenue location and stumbled upon a now-familiar figure: Kanye West.
At the time, the performance hadn’t registered as particularly significant: It was just another hungry, young and relatively unknown rapper who was willing to fly in from Chicago to perform at the celebration in front of a crowd of hip-hop insiders in the hopes of furthering his career. In retrospect, though, West’s confidence and flow are unmistakable. In the clip, the skinny 19 -year-old Kanye coolly walked on stage and dropped a flawless verse that even managed to name-check Alanis Morissette. While the performance was short, the talent — and cockiness — were indisputably all Kanye.