Kanye West’s long pursuit of onstage perfection has led to numerous rants, antics and more. During his 2008 Glow In The Dark Tour, he infamously snapped on a stage crew in Texas due to a soundboard malfunctioning during his set. A year later, DJ Aktive caught the worst of Ye’s quest for perfect sound during a performance in New York City.
Retelling the story to Skillz for the Virginia rapper’s Hip Hop Confessions podcast, Aktive laughed about seeing Kanye on his worst day.
“I was on the [808s and Heartbreaks] tour in … 2009,” Aktive recalled. “And Rihanna was there, it was at the Met Gala in New York. I was scratching at soundcheck and he was like, “Yo, when you do that scratchin’, I need it to sound like A-Trak!”
Aktive, a noted Philly legend on the turntables, nearly took the direction as a moment of disrespect but understood Ye’s vision was for the song live to match the recorded version, particularly his 2005 hit single “Gold Digger” with Jamie Foxx. The song would eventually become Ye’s first number one record on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“He wanted the scratches right on ‘Gold Digger!’ he continued. “He was like, ‘No, no, no, I need you to sound like this! Get-get-get down, get-get-get down, get down!’ And I missed the last get down. And we were on stage wearing motorcycle helmets cause he didn’t want people to see our faces … everybody had a helmet on! Whole face sweating. I put my visor up, he came up to me pissed off. He came up, ‘I told you you ain’t do the scratches right! What happened to the scratches?!’”
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The rehearsal miscue was enough for Ye, who at this point donned his helmet, to get in Aktive’s face and not only scream on him, but headbutt him in the process. The entire story made Skillz nearly pause the recording.
“You stay getting cussed out by rappers on stage!” Skillz laughed. “He headbutt you with a motorcycle helmet on?! I would have beat Kanye ass, yo! That’s a wrestling move, fuck is wrong with you?!”
Ye and Aktive patched things up even after the show, but the emerging mogul was still heated about the scratches. Although he loathed being called a rapper-producer in the early days of his career, calling it a slight to his rapping abilities, Ye still had an idea for what sounded good as a producer and it carried on stage.
Aktive’s tenure with Ye lasted for three years, including tour stops in Singapore and an episode of VH1’s Storytellers. The miscue with the scratches at rehearsal paled in comparison to Ye’s decision to throw a microphone in the water during his Donda 2 concert in Miami on Tuesday (February 22). After the sound mishap, fans flocked to Twitter to joke about how the staff responsible for sound engineering were more than likely losing their jobs.
Listen to Aktive recall stories about DJing for Nas, Janet Jackson and more on the Hip Hop Confessions podcast below.