1. Jessica Rivera

“Jessica Rivera, man…. [Jessica: “Man, you n*ggas is stupid if y’all don’t sign Kanye, forreal.”] – Kanye West

In the beginning of Kanye’s career, Jessica Rivera was an A&R at Def Jam. Today, she’s the Senior Vice President/Co-Head of East Coast Operations at Universal Music Publishing Group.

2. Joe “3H” Weinberger

“The n*gga that was behind me, I mean, he wasn’t even a n*gga, you know? The person who actually kicked everything off was Joe 3H from Capitol Records. He wanted to sign me really bad.” – Kanye West

During the rise of Kanye’s career, 3H was the A&R from Capitol Records who was going sign Kanye to a major deal. Today, 3H manages artists including rapper Sammy Adams.

3. Deric “D.Dot” Angelettie

“I was messin with, uh, D-Dot also. People were like this, started talking about the ghost production. But that’s how I got in the game. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be here.” – Kanye West

Back in the early 2000s, D.Dot was a producer and entrepreneur who mentored Kanye. Today, he’s a consigliere of his own company, Connect The Dots, LLC, and advises major corporations, entertainment companies, and artists.

4. Kyambo “Hip-Hop” Johnson

“So this A&R over at Rocafella, named Hip Hop. Picked the “Truth” beat for Beanie.” – Kanye West

Hip-Hop has a long history in the industry. He was the Head of A&R at Roc-a-fella before moving to VP of A&R at Atlantic Records in 2003. Most recently, he and Gee Roberson founded HHS1978. He’s also the co-owner of Alife & Fat Beats Records.

5. Jay Z

“I got to meet Jay-Z and he said, ‘Oh you a real soulful dude’.”- Kanye West

Well…where do we start? Since Kanye’s “College Dropout” Jay has released 4 solo albums, one album with Kanye, nabbed 16 Grammys, married Beyonce, founded Roc Nation & Roc Nation Sports, wrote a book, bought into & then sold his share of the Brooklyn Nets, and he’s currently on his “Magna Carter Holy Grail” tour.

6. Talib Kweli

“My relationship with Kweli I think was one of the best ones to ever happen to my career as a rapper. Because, you know, of course later he allowed me to go on tour with him. Man, I appre– I love him for that.” – Kanye West

Over the years, Talib’s career has flourished. He recently released two albums, “Prisoner of Conscious” and “Gravitas.” You can catch Kweli on tour.

7. Gee Roberson

“I went up… I called Gee, I said, “man, you think we could still get that deal with Roc-a-fella?”- Kanye West

Gee Roberson was once the SVP of A&R at Roc-a-fella Records. He later moved on to the same position at Atlantic Records, before teaming up with “Hip-Hop” to co-found HHS1978. He’s currently the co-CEO of his record company, Blueprint Group, and he still serves as a Chairman for Geffen Records.

8. Young Guru

I wanted to play some songs…Young Guru, and Dame was in the room. So I played…actually it’s a song that you’ll never hear, but maybe I might use it. So, it’s called ‘Wow.'” – Kanye

Young Guru is the legendary sound engineer responsible for mixing and mastering Jay Z’s records. Today, Guru continues his duties as an engineer while speaking on the importance of engineering creatively at colleges across the nation

9. John Meneilly

“Hip Hop was there, I think Ty-Ty, John Meneilly, a bunch of people. I didn’t know all these people at the time they was in the room.” – Kanye West

John Meneilly was once the financial chief of Roc-a-fella Records (before Dame Dash fired him). Today, John is Jay Z’s business manager, as well as an financial consigliere.

10. Dave Lighty

“Dave Lighty f*cked with me.” – Kanye West

In the mid to late ’90s, Dave Lighty (brother of the late great Chris Lighty) was the Manager of A&R at Def Jam. By the late ’90s, Dave moved to Jive Records to become the Sr. Director of A&R, where he held that position for over a decade. Today, he’s a consultant at Odlight LLC, a brand strategies company.

11. Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith

“Hip Hop was there, I think Ty-Ty, John Meneilly, a bunch of people. I didn’t know all these people at the time they was in the room.” – Kanye West

Ty Ty has been the longtime friend of Jay Z. Over the years, Ty Ty has been in various executive positions regarding Jay Z’s businesses. Today, he’s an executive at Roc Nation.

12. Lenny S. (Santiago)

“The day I did the ‘Can’t be Life’ beat on track, I remember Lenny S, he had some Louis Vuitton sneakers on. He think he fly.” – Kanye West

Lenny S. started his career off in promotions at Bad Boy Records, before taking an A&R position in the early days of Roc-a-fella Records. Today, he’s the SVP of A&R at Roc Nation. He’s the man behind KodakLens’ Instagram, taking photos of tons of celebs.

13. No I.D.

“And No ID told him, ‘Look man, you wanna mess with Kanye.
You need to tell him that you like the way he rap’.” – Kanye West

No I.D. is Kanye West’s longstanding mentor and legendary record producer. Today, No I.D. is still producing classic records for various artists while serving in the position of Executive VP at Def Jam.

14. Just Blaze

“And I’m thinking he’s trying to get into managing producers. Cause he had this other kid named Just Blaze he was messin with, and um, he was friends with my mentor, No ID.”

Just Blaze continues to produce hit records for various artists, and he still produces records for Jay Z. Fans of the hit-maker can catch him on tour DJing at various venues across the country.

15. Beanie Sigel

“The first beat I made was, uh, “Heart of the City.” Beans was still working on his album at that time…It was Beans’ birthday, matter of fact, & I played like seven beats.” – Kanye

Beanie’s been through many trials and tribulations since the days of the Roc. Besides falling out with Jay, Beans has had various legal issues. Today, he’s serving 6-23 months for drug possession & 2 years for tax evasion.

16. DMX

“Really I made ‘Heart of the City,’ I really wanted to give that beat to DMX.” – Kanye West

Can you imagine how different hip-hop would be if DMX released “Heart Of The City?” Since 2004, DMX has released two albums, been arrested a countless amount of times, and to the dismay of many, DMX is currently in talks to fight Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman.

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