Out of all the people Kanye has collaborated with over the decades, there is one name that keeps popping up without fail: legendary Chicago producer No I.D.
My big brother was B.I.G.'s brother Used to be Dame and Biggs' brother Who was Hip Hop brother, who was No I.D. friend No I.D. my mentor, now let the story begin Kanye West - "Big Brother" // September 11, 2007
Whether it’s being name checked on “Last Call” or shouted out on “Big Brother,” Kanye has always made sure to let the world know that he came up with No I.D. as his mentor. The producer has also played an integral role on a lot of Kanye’s albums, including credits on 808s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne.
Their story goes back to the early ’90s in Chicago. No I.D. was working with fellow Chicago hip hop artist, Common, at the time and his mom, who knew Kanye’s mom, introduced him to the young, budding rapper-producer.
“The first song he played me called ‘Green Eggs & Ham,’ No I.D. recalled with an interview with Billboard. “It was real super-early, 90s-sounding, yelling type of hip-hop record with a computer keyboard beat that was really quite funny. He was in his group [State of Mind] for that song.”
From that point on, No I.D. would continue to help nurture Kanye’s production talents. “Eventually I built a studio in my home, and he’d come over,” No I.D. said. “He was always trying to prove himself, and he kept getting better and better.”
In a 2018 conversation with Andrew Barber for the Red Bull Music Festival in Chicago, No I.D. revealed that he was actually Kanye’s manager for a time, but he wasn’t able to handle his personality.
No I.D: People don’t know this but I was his manager early. I took him to meetings at labels and all kinds of stuff. But I wasn’t trying to be a mentor. That wasn’t a concept. I remember a meeting with Columbia Records. He told Donnie Ienner “I’m going to be the next Michael Jackson.” And they were like “OK then. Have a good day.” We came in a limo and left in a taxi. I remember I got home and I was playing a video game with Peter King, cause we were co-managing him at the time, and I was like “I don’t think I could manage Kanye. I just don’t think it will work.” I’m a realist. It wasn’t what I could make off him. I just couldn’t handle him. I’d go crazy. I figured I’d just help him and get nothing. And that’s what preserved our relationship over those years. I never really asked for anything. I just helped.No I.D. Talks Almost Giving Up on Hip-Hop Career, Working With Kanye & JAY-Z, More at Red Bull Music Festival | Billboard
After he stopped being Kanye’s manager, No I.D. introduced him to Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua, the co-founder of management and production company, Hip Hop Since 1978, as well as an A&R for Roc-A-Fella Records. Hip Hop signed Kanye to his company in 1998, and it wasn’t long before the Chicago producer placed his first beat for a Jay-Z album.