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Kanye West Turned Down American Idol Gig: “He Didn’t Want to Go That Mainstream”

Kanye West, who turned down Idol, in October 2012
Kanye West turned down American Idol to avoid going "mainstream"

File this under "Things That Could Have Been." Kanye West has been scarce on girlfriend Kim Kardashian's reality show, but he very nearly became a regular on another popular reality TV series: American Idol.

A source tells Us Weekly exclusively that the hip hop star was offered the third and final spot on Idol's judging panel for the upcoming 13th season. After thinking it over, however, he decided to pass, in part because he worried it would hurt his reputation.

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"He didn't want to go that mainstream," the source tells Us of the "Black Skinhead" rapper, 36, who has a 2-month-old daughter, North, with Kardashian, 32. "He didn't want to lose any street cred. So he turned it down."

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The insider notes that Idol producers also met with three other contenders for the spot:, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Rodney Jerkins. In the end, though, their top choice appears to be songwriter and record producer Dr. Luke (real name: Lukasz Gottwald).

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As Us Weekly exclusively revealed on Aug. 19, Dr. Luke — who's worked magic with the likes of Ke$ha, Katy Perry, and Britney Spears — is currently in talks to become the third judge on the FOX reality competition. He would join Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez, who served on the panel in 2011 and 2012 and recently signed on again to take one of the spots left by departing judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Randy Jackson.

Reps for FOX, Jerkins, and Dr. Luke had no comment on the story.

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