The rapper performed ‘Self Conscious’ at Def Poetry Jam in 2003 before it became ‘All Falls Down’ the world over in 2004
“This morning I spent a lot of, um, time, like, trying to, like, pick out my outfit, ‘cause I’m, like, really into clothes. I’ma be the best-dressed rapper out in the game – so.”
Kanye West is either nervous as hell or seamlessly slipping into the protagonist of his about-to-be-read poem, “Self Conscious”. If it sounds familiar, it’s because we now know it as one of the rapper’s breakout hits, “All Falls Down” – the third single to be released from his debut album, The College Dropout (2004).
Repping adidas Originals trainers with their price tag hanging off them, a huge gold chain and (is that?) Darth Vader on his short sleeve shirt worn over a long sleeve shirt, West stepped out on stage in 2003 for season 3, episode 6, of Def Poetry Jam, which aired on 9 May of that same year.
The poem later made it onto Freshman Adjustment – a trio of mixtapes that pre-date The College Dropout but weren’t released until 2005 – as “Self Conscious (A.K.A. Yeah)”. The message remained, and remains, the same across all three variations – Kanye loves to spend.
While he would return to Def Poetry Jam in following seasons to perform again and again, this 2003 appearance felt special. Resurfaced recently thanks to the wonderful Instagram account @2000s.era (a “2000s Fan Page”), it’s Kanye at his more public and definitely his most pure.
Watch poetry Ye above, and “All Falls Down” Ye below: