The Kanye West Work Ethic @ Rap Camp

In late 2009 Kanye West set himself up in a mansion in Hawaii to record one of the greatest albums of all times: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

With artists flying in from around the world ranging from Elton John and Rihanna, to Drake and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, the album’s budget quickly blew out to over $3m.

I love reading behind the scenes stories of the creation of these works of art. Whether it’s a recording artist, an engineer or a chef. Particularly as I search for my own white whale, my own MBDTF — finding a new business to start on my entrepreneurial journey.

So I was stoked to find the incredible the Dissect Podcast on MBDTF, a serial podcast breaking down the album’s production and meaning over the course of 16 thirty minute episodes.

Here are some choice quotes on what the Louis Vuitton Don would come to call “Rap Camp” from RZA of Wu-Tang Clan from an interview at RedBull Music Academy:

“They get up every morning to eat breakfast together. His whole crew. They talk about yesterday and the next day, and the present.

They plan. Over breakfast they talk about what they want to do, what they did and how to make the music better.”

They’re constantly reviewing parts of the album as its coming together, questioning whether they have the right take or even the right artist on the verses and figuring out what they need to be improving over the coming days.

“Then they go exercise together. Go to the YMCA, they play basketball and lift weights. Focus, get the energy out, get the chi out.”

The whole crew would go to the Honolulu YMCA to work out , playing basketball playing against the locals.

“[then] he’s going to do his charity work. Invite all these kids and do some charity shit. So therefore he’s doing a good deed for the day as well. Good karma.”

They’re not just here to make a record. They want to have an impact. It’s incredible that in the midst of producing this album, that is costing a fortune every extra day that it takes, they’re prioritizing charity work front and center before they get into the studio.

“And then he goes to the studio and he stays there from 4 — and when I was there — we left at 4. So 12 hours at the studio. Then go to bed he stays there at

“The way everything happened though it was focused energy. And Actually I’ve never seen that from a rapper before. “

“It’s not only his talent that took him to the top, it’s his focus.”

There is a ton more detail on the Dissect Podcast which also quotes heavily from the Complex article around the time of the albums release.



Australian in SF. Product manager & entrepreneur. Running & reading.

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Ned Dwyer

Ned Dwyer

Australian in SF. Product manager & entrepreneur. Running & reading.