Kareem “Biggs” Burke, the man who co-founded legendary Hip-Hop label Roc-A-Fella Records alongside Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Damon Dash, recently sat down with Elliot Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller for their Rap Radar Podcast to promote his Fourth Of November clothing line and drop some classic anecdotes from his glory days.
Just before the 43-minute mark, Biggs revealed that there was a time when Kanye West, the man who went on to become one of the label’s most successful acts, was nearly released from his contract with the label following the initially lukewarm success of his debut single, “Through the Wire”:
“Lyor [Cohen] didn’t believe in him at the time. They wanted to drop Kanye and [fellow Roc-A-Fella artists] the Young Gunz while we had “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” and “Through the Wire”. They was like, “Take ’em some place else.” And then we went to Capitol [Records] and, you know, we thought they was kinda idiots at the time. We was like, “We might was well keep it over here at Def Jam” and that’s how he ended up staying there.”
Both Young Gunz’s “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” and Kanye’s “Through the Wire” went on to be Top 20 singles, the latter receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance.
Can you imagine ‘Ye’s career without Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella backing him? Listen to the entire chat with Biggs below: