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This unreleased Kanye West beat tape from 1997 has just leaked

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We're not sure if you knew, but apparently Kanye West is a musician. Yes, we were as surprised as you.

In amongst all the grandiose statements, stage invading, fashion launches and lunatic twitter pronouncements, it's easy to forget that Mr West is only actually known to you and I because he was, and is, a great musician.

Now, a set of eight beats dating back to 1997 has emerged online, uploaded to Soundcloud by someone called Trilly Madison.

It's a fascinating insight into his early work, made at the age of 20, just after he had scored his first official production credit the year before - for a Chicago rapper named Grav, on his debut album Down To Earth - and three years before he began to produce for artists on Roc-A-Fella Records.

The tracks are all very old school, soulful and laid back, with classic hip hop drums, twinkling pianos and funky guitar samples. It's not a million miles away from the likes of DJ Shadow and Pharcyde. Beat 5 offers the only hint of what was to become West's signature sound - the sped-up Chipmunk-style vocal samples from old soul records. The whole tape is quite refreshing to hear after much of his recent work has been so dissonant and wilfully difficult to listen to.

Check them out below - you can bet your life about a thousand rappers out there are busy recording verses over the top right now.

(Image: Getty)

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