Chicago natives Syleena Johnson and Kanye West joined forces on a record that has gone down in music history as a The College Dropout classic, but the collaboration almost didn’t happen. Before Ye was the international superstar that he is today, he was a music producer from the Windy City building on his dreams brick by brick. In the early 2000s, Kanye was working on his debut album and the track “All Falls Down” that sample Lauryn Hill‘s “Mystery of Iniquity” from the live MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 album.
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Kanye and Syleena were at the same recording studio in two different rooms working on differing projects. According to Syleena, it was just about to break dawn when Kanye tapped on her door and asked her to sing on his hook. Syleena revisited the memory during her recent chat with The Breakfast Club. The singer shared that Kanye was working on mixing and mastering The College Dropout and the deadline was fast approaching, but they hadn’t received a clearance to use the Lauryn Hill sample.
Syleena said she had no problem helping out her “family” Kanye, and while recording the hook, she attempted to sing it exactly as Lauryn did. However, Ye wanted her to switch things up because legally, he needed there to be a slight difference from the original. When they got the chorus locked down, Kanye surprised her with the news that the single would be dropping the following week.
At the end of the track, Yeezy made sure to let the singer know how important her additional was for him. “Now, Syleena, you just like a safe belt, you saved my life,” he stated. Watch the clip of Syleena sharing her story below and hear her interpretation of why she believed she was mentioned on the Grammy-nominated song “All Falls Down.”