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Kanye West
Kanye West wouldn't be a rapper if he didn't talk about diamonds. But unlike the rest of the bling brigade, he puts his own, very unique spin on the stones - and that is why he is undoubtedly the most important artist in hip-hop today. Get ready for the second coming of Kanye.
If you could trade places with a hip hop/R&B star for one day, who would you pick? We're guessing you'd be rushing to fill Usher's shoes - so you can really say Yeah! Or maybe you'd want a golden ticket to 50 Cent's candy shop. We however have our eye on a different star - he's the man behind the hits, the one holding the strings, a musician who finally stepped into the spotlight last year and stole the show with not one or two, but ten Grammy nominations! Who wouldn't want to be a hip hop dynamo? Who wouldn't want to be…Kanye West?

On his sophomore release titled Late Registration, West is back with an album that stays true to his skills - sample-based arrangements, live instrumentation and an impressive line-up of guests including Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx, Brandy, John Legend and even Adam Levine of Maroon 5.
The Record brings you an exclusive transcript with Kanye talking about award shows, being a producer, songwriter, singer, director, and sampling James Bond for his fabulous first single.

Tell us about the new album Late Registration.
Kanye West: It's part of a four album set, including The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation and the fourth one - is what you're supposed to get after you graduate - A Good A** Job. I had a great deal of life experiences to draw inspiration from for The College Dropout. For Late Registration I hadn't stopped living; there's still a lot of ups and downs, a lot of things that I go through… I like to always go back to before I was, I guess, 'Kanye West' and really relate to the fans, to the people who are actually late in registering, relate to real people.

Tell us about the first single Diamonds From Sierra Leone.
KW: I just love the [James Bond Diamonds Are Forever] sample used in the song. It's just one of those things where you say, 'Damn! I can't believe no one from Roc-A-Fella Records used that sample before!' When I played the song for people, the word 'diamond' connected with them in a different way and made them think about conflict diamonds and blood diamonds. My friend Q-Tip started putting me on to different situations in Africa. They had a war that ended five years ago but it was a war that was going on for ten years where people were killing with each other for diamonds. I wanted to make people aware of it. The song and the video is not an attack on the diamond industry but it is just making people aware of the conflict that went on with diamonds. The industry has done a lot to cut back conflict diamonds and make it harder to purchase that but I just want people to be knowledgeable because the second I heard about it I wanted other people to hear about it.

That's an incredible video you have for the song.
KW: The video was shot by Hype Williams out in Prague. That's living two dreams with one shoot. You know how, like, people might not be able to afford cars or whatever so they put them in a video? I can't afford those statues on the bridges, so let's put them in a video. [Laughs] I own it in that way. It's kinda like my statue for that four minutes! We wanted to present the Sierra Leone concept and video but also show the architecture of Prague because I felt…you just have to see it to see how we blended the two ideas to make something that's powerful that I think you'll remember for the rest of your life!

You can read the rest of our feature on Kanye West in the August 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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