This week, Kanye West told The New York Times that early career collaborators dead prez helped him develop the artistic style and songwriting that he uses today. “That’s how I discovered my style. I was just hanging out with them all the time in New York,” he said, also referring to Black Star members Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (f/k/a Mos Def), who Kanye worked with individually. “I would produce for them. You know, I was able to slip past everything with a pink polo, but I am dead prez. And now, because I was able to slip past, I have a responsibility at all times.”

West worked with the duo of and M-1 on 2000’s Let’s Get Free, dead prez’ major label debut. The would-be Def Jam Records super-star co-produced third single “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop.” reacted to Kanye’s interview from his Facebook page. The Florida native and former Loud Records artist wrote, “I enjoyed the time we spent being around Kanye [West]. I thought he was a brilliant visionary in terms of producing and creative ideas. I think he relates to much of our messages cause of the truth that resonates but I also think he was privy to see things from the Rockefeller side in a way that showed him how to make money and stimulate mass interest in his work. I think he is so talented and that is the true source of his appeal.”

However, stic—who has produced songs for Nas, also acknowledged and embraced West’s perceived contradictions: “But I also feel in my opinion, that he like many artists felt they had to make certain choices to be successful within the rules of the Game. I think ‘Ye studies the dynamics of life an uses it to his advantage for marketing. He looks at contradiction as the way things really are. He doesn’t want to fit in any one-sided box. I think for him he has found his lane which blends a lot of points of view that are often polarized but with ye’s art it becomes one. We all learn from one another. Brothers is out here trying to make an impact take care of their families and be relevant. Everybody don’t agree on everything but at the end of the day I can understand how these artists are making their decisions and I think ‘Ye offers a great deal of value to Hip Hop… Even if he don’t sit right in some folks expectations. I relate to his contradictions. I get it. He’s being what he feels is what he needs to be to be Kanye. I respect his honesty and skills and am honored for the acknowledgement.”

stic distanced his group from all comparisons though. “I don’t encourage no one to be like dead prez. I say find your own expression and make it count. We don’t have all the answers. We got plenty room to learn an grow just like ‘Ye and everyone else does. I think he is sincere in his embracing of some of dead prez perspective and juxtaposing it with the other stuff he is popular for. I think that is genuine for him.” closed with a positive reaction. “I’m just happy a young brother from Chicago like ‘Ye is alive and breathing and being creative and provocative and inspiring.” The emcee/producer also revealed his own anticipation of Yeezus. “We gotta stop looking for artists to be our saviors and get to work on what we believe is necessary ourselves […] I’m looking forward to hearing [Kanye West’s Yeezus] and going running listening to it. And when I see Ye imma give him a big pound and hug for the shout out.”

The full statement is on’s Facebook page.

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