As always, Wikipedia destroys the mystery by informing that Hey Mama was actually recorded in 2000, citing an MTV interview. Still, it strikes me as pretty ballsy to steal from one's own unreleased track. I see it as a glimpse of Kanye's early clear view of the long game. He lays it all out in that 2003 interview, which paints his ambitions as kind of adorable: he "earnestly" says he'll follow up The College Dropout with Late Registration and then Graduation. "Is this an overly optimistic projection of his hip-hop future?" asks the author. "Maybe."
Nope. It's fascinating and kind of disorienting to look at this snapshot of the pre-Kanye world. Another anachronism is the reference to Yeezy's "typical disarming modesty." The nuttiest part is that it backs up the claim with quotes which actually do exhibit disarming modesty. "I gotta give myself the best chance because I don't really feel like I'm the best [rapper] out there." With a decade's hindsight, it's easy to forget there was a time when KANYE WEST knew how to say things like that. Who knows, maybe he is a time traveler, and in the future he went back to 2003 because he didn't like what he had become. Maybe this time he'll figure out how to be happy and peaceful and fulfilled. Only one way to find out. Imma let him finish.