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Danny Strong is no slouch. The Empire creator is a seasoned writer, having penned the script for such high-profile films as Mockingjay, Game Change and The Butler. But when it came time to find the core of his runaway hit that chronicles the inner workings of the rap industry, there was only one person who had the expertise he needed. “I was in my car in L.A., and I was driving around," Strong recalled of the impetus for Empire. "I heard a news story about Puffy, and I just thought, ‘Hip-hop is so cool. That’s what I should do next, something in hip-hop.’" He said that he then jumped straight to Kanye's interviews: "I started watching Kanye West interviews. After 45 minutes, I said, ‘Alright, I’m good. I know how to do this.'”

West first rose to fame in the early 2000s as one of Roc-A-Fella Records' in-house producers. Together with Just Blaze and Bink, he helmed Jay Z's seminal 2001 album, The Blueprint, before embarking on a solo career of his own. Since his 2004 debut, The College Dropout, West has grown increasingly animated with the media; his 2013 press run in the wake of his divisive Yeezus featured angry, expansive rants in interviews that deviated from the standard press format and acted as self-contained diatribes. He has given a handful of interviews this year as he prepares to release his seventh solo album, So Help Me God.

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