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AUTHOR: madeline roth, MTV.com
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Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage

As Kanye West gears up to release his seventh studio album, whatever the hell it’s called, it’s only appropriate to look at how far he’s come. So UK radio DJ Tim Westwood’s done us all a solid by reminding us that College Dropout-era Kanye was a truly formidable force.

On Thursday, Westwood released a rarity from his vault: a never-before-seen clip from 2004 of ‘Ye freestyling over “Slow Jamz,” “Encore,” “Change Clothes” and “Stand Up.” The six-minute scorcher is packed with the kind of wittiness and pop culture prowess that endeared him to so many people early on — there are shoutouts to Tupac and then-rookie LeBron James, references to being “freaky like Missy” and keeping it “right thurr like Chingy,” and even a Paris and Nicki Hilton shoutout (remember, this was ’04).

If some of the rhymes sound familiar, it’s because they ended up in later songs… but at the time, it was beyond fresh, as ‘Ye will remind you: “If y’all fresh to death, I’m deceased.”

Ahhh, the memories. Don’t get too caught up in the past, though — we have a brand new Yeezy LP coming to us in less than a week. And while it may still be untitled, and it may not be the greatest album of all time, here’s hoping it finds ‘Ye channeling some of the magic that made him so irresistible way back when.

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