Born08 June 1977
Childhood and youth
Kanye Omari West was born on June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents divorced when he was three years old, after which Kanye and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. His father, Ray West, was a member of the Black Panther Party and was one of the first African American photojournalists in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kanye's mother, Donda West, was a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University and dean of the English language faculty at Chicago State University before she ended her career to become her son’s manager. Kanye West lived in a middle-class family and studied at the Polaris High School in Oak Lawn, a suburb of Chicago. When asked by reporters about his grades at school, West replied that he studied "four-five."
At the age of ten, West and his mother moved to the city of Nanjing in China, where they lived while she worked at the University of Nanjing on an exchange program. According to her, West was the only foreign student in her class, but he quickly joined the team, learning the Chinese language, which he, however, forgot soon after they returned to the United States.
From an early age, West showed an interest in creativity. At the age of five, returning from rest, he wrote a poem. According to his mother, when he was in third grade, he began to notice his interest in drawing and music. West himself claims that he wanted to develop computer games. His mother gave him an Amiga computer, which included a program for creating music. According to him, he learned to work with her to create music for games. Living in Chicago, West was actively involved in the urban hip-hop community. In the third grade, he began to rap, and in the seventh grade - to create instrumental music, which he later began to sell to other musicians. At the age of thirteen, West wrote the song "Green Eggs and Ham" and began to persuade his mother to pay $ 25 an hour for recording at the studio. The studio was far from perfect: a microphone in it hung from the ceiling on a hanger. Despite this, West was glad and wanted to sign up for this studio. Seeing this, his mother could not refuse him. Soon West met producer I.D., with whom he quickly became friends. I.D. became a mentor to West and taught him to work with a sampler, which West gave at the age of fifteen.
After graduating from school, in 1997 he received a scholarship to study at the American Academy of Arts, where he studied drawing. However, he soon moved to the State University of Chicago, where he began to study English. At the age of 20, realizing that the busy training schedule was preventing him from making music, he quit training. This very upset his mother, who worked at this university. She will later say: "All my life they drove into my head that college is a ticket to a good life ... But some careers do not require a college education. To create College Dropout, Kanye needed to have willpower and not follow the path proposed by society.”
1996-2002: Career start and work with Roc-A-Fella Records
Kanye West began his musical career in the mid-1990s, creating instrumental pieces for local musicians. In the end, he formed his musical style, the basis for which were accelerated samples of soul songs. The first official mention of West occurs on the debut and only album of Chicago rapper Grav, Down to Earth, 1996, for which West produced eight tracks and performed the verse in the song "Line For Line". For some time, West was a secret producer of the American producer, manager and rapper D-Dot. Working with D-Dot, West could not pursue a solo career, so in the late 1990s, he organized the Go-Getters group, which in addition to him included other representatives of the Chicago rap scene and part-time friends: GLC, Timmy G, Really Doe and Arrowstar. The group recorded several compositions, performed on the radio and took part in a photoshoot. In 1999, Go-Getters recorded their only album, World Record Holders, which, however, was not officially released.
West spent the late 1990s producing albums of famous musicians and bands. He co-produced ‘My Life’ on Foxy Brown's second album, Chyna Doll, released in 1999. Chyna Doll was the first female rapper album to debut on the first line of the Billboard 200 chart. Among albums produced by West, there was also the debut and only album of rapper Beanie Sigel's Harlem World, The Movement, and The Truth. In the late 1990s, he also co-produced D-Dot's debut album, Tell ’Em Why U Madd, released by The Madd Rapper, a character who first appeared on a skeet from The Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death. Tell ’Em Why U Madd was not a commercial success, but included couplets performed by the then-little-rapper 50 Cent and Eminem.
The success came to West in 2000, after he began working with the musicians of the Roc-A-Fella Records label. Broad fame as a producer came to West after working on rapper Jay-Z's The Blueprint album. Music critics noted West's production, while Jay-Z himself called West "genius." The Blueprint is called hip-hop classic and has been featured on numerous lists of top albums, including the 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and a similar list by NME magazine. As a producer of Roc-A-Fella Records, West worked on albums by other label musicians, including Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Cameron. He has also worked on hits for artists such as Talib Queli, Ludacris, Nas, T.I., Beyoncé, Alisha Keyes, and Janet Jackson.
Despite the success, Kanye West wanted more: he dreamed of becoming a rapper. However, although many considered him a talented producer, no one considered him a rapper. According to Talib Kweli, "everyone was trying to find a way to get instrumental from him so that he would not start to rap them." Record companies refused him, citing the inconsistency with the image of the gangsta rapper and the fact that his childhood and youth did not go the same as that of other representatives of the genre. West was negotiating with Capitol Records and the contract was almost ready when someone told the label president that West was “just a producer/rapper" and that "his albums would not be sold,” after which the label refused to West. One of the first rapper talents in the West was Talib Queli. West was the producer of his ‘Quality’ album and one of the tracks he produced, “Get By,” became Kuelley's most successful solo track. Kelly went on a concert tour and took West with him, allowing him to perform with him. These performances were one of West's first public appearances. Later, he will thank Kuelley more than once for this, including in the composition "Last Call" on his debut album. Soon the head of Roc-A-Fella, Damon Dash, decided to sign West on his label. However, they did not immediately believe West. According to Time magazine, "When Kanye West first asked the guys from Roc-A-Fella to let him rap, there was an awkward silence in the room”.
On October 23, 2002, Kanye West was in a serious car accident on his way home from a recording studio in Los Angeles, falling asleep at the wheel. As a result of the accident, his jaw was fragmented and a wire splint had to be applied to it. This inspired West to write "Through the Wire," which he recorded two weeks after leaving the hospital, with a broken jaw. Through the Wire, in which West spoke about his difficulties after the accident, became the basis of his debut album. West himself states that "all the best musicians in history have talked about the difficulties they had to face." He also noted that working on the album was his "medicine" that distracted from the pain. "Through the Wire" was first released by West as part of the Get Well Soon mixtape ... in 2003. At the same time, he announced the work on his debut album, The College Dropout, whose main theme was "Making Your Own Decisions".
2003—2006: The College Dropout and Late Registration
West worked on The College Dropout, bringing his Louis Vuitton backpack full of music CDs to the studio. According to GLC, West took 15 minutes to work on one instrumental. At the same time, his friend and manager, John "Monopoly" Johnson, claims that West has been working on The College Dropout for a long time, starting back in Chicago, retaining his instrumentals for years at a time when he can finally become a rapper. West finished work on the album in Los Angeles, where he was undergoing rehabilitation. Shortly after he finished working on the album, a digital version of the album leaked to the Internet, a few months before the release. Then West decided to significantly remake the album, improving its quality, adding stringed instruments, gospel choirs and new couplets to the compositions. West's perfectionism led to the fact that the release of the album was postponed three times from the original date - August 2003.
The College Dropout was released on Roc-A-Fella Records in February 2004. The album debuted on the second line of the Billboard 200 chart; almost half a million copies were sold in the first week. The debut single from the album, “Through the Wire,” climbed to 15th on the Billboard Hot 100 and lasted five weeks. The second single, “Slow Jamz”, performed with Twista and Jamie Foxx, was even more successful, becoming his first single to go on the first line of the Hot 100. However, the fourth single, "Jesus Walks", became one of the most famous West songs. In it, the rapper raises questions of faith and Christianity. Although representatives of the music industry doubted the success of such a composition, "Jesus Walks" was able to climb to the 11th line of the Hot 100, where it lasted two weeks. The College Dropout received positive reviews from critics and is called a classic of the genre. The album received platinum status three times in the United States and brought West 10 Grammy nominations in 2005, of which he won three: the best rap album, the best rap song for Jesus Walks and the best collaborative rap performance for Slow Jamz. " At that time, West's musical style was based on accelerated soul compositions. However, after the success of The College Dropout, musicians began to copy this style, which was one of the reasons West changed the musical style. In the fall of 2004, Kanye West opened his label, G.O.O.D. Music, to which he will later sign his acquaintances, among them Common and John Legend.
West began work on his second album, Late Registration, at the end of 2004, completing his performances as part of Asher's concert tour. According to unconfirmed information, it took about two million dollars to record the album, and the rapper himself claims that he borrowed $ 600,000 to work on the album. Portishead Roseland NYC Live had a great influence on the style of this album. In particular, it was thanks to him that he added a live string orchestra to the compositions with Late Registration. West himself later admitted that he had wanted to do something similar before, but could only allow it after the success of his debut album. He also invited to work on the album of American composer John Barion, who became the co-producer of several songs on the album. This came as a surprise to many fans. Although before that Barion had not worked with hip-hop, he and West quickly found a common language: they finished their first track, “Gold Digger”, at the end of the first working day. Late Registration was launched in August 2005. Over the first week, 860,000 copies were sold, which allowed him to debut on the first line of the Billboard 200 chart and later to receive the status of triple platinum. Music observers noted that Late Registration was the only commercially successful album of the period when album sales fell. The album received positive reviews from critics. At the 2006 ‘Grammy’ Awards, West received eight nominations, both for Late Registration and singles from him, and for collaborating with Alisha Keyes and Common. Of these, he won three nominations: the best solo rap performance for ‘Gold Digger’, the best rap song for ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’, and the best rap album for Late Registration.
Although a scandal had previously been associated with Kanye West when he left the 2004 American Music Awards without receiving the "Best New Artist" award, his first major scandal occurred shortly after the release of Late Registration, during a charity concert, as part of which fundraising was held for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The concert was broadcast in early September 2005 by NBC and West was invited to give a speech. However, while on the air, he moved away from the prepared speech, speaking with his minute soliloquy. "I hate the way they represent us in the media. If this is a black family, then they say: "they rob". If this is a white-skinned family, then they say: “they are looking for food,” he said. After his speech, Mike Myers continued his prepared speech. After he passed the word back to West, West declared: "George W. Bush does not care about black people." This quote has spread throughout the country, causing mixed reactions among people. Bush called the episode a "disgusting moment" in his presidency. West later apologized to him and Bush forgave him. In January 2006, West appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in the image of Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns on his head, which also caused a mixed reaction in society.
2007-2009: Graduation and 808s & Heartbreak
After spending 2006, performing with the band U2 on their concert tour Vertigo Tour, Kanye West decided to record an album whose compositions are suitable for performances in large stadiums. He used elements of genres popular in the 80s: electro and disco. Other sources of inspiration include rock arena groups such as U2, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. To make his new album, the third in the planned tetralogy of learning albums, more personal, and also to develop storytelling skills, West listened to folk and country musicians such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.
The album, called Graduation, received widespread press coverage even before its release: its release date coincided with the release date of rapper 50 Cent's Curtis album, which is why the press arranged a confrontation between the rappers. Shortly before the appointed date, 50 Cent announced that he would end his career if he lost. Both albums were released on September 11, 2007. Graduation won, selling 957,000 in the first week, versus 691,000 for Curtis. 50 Cent later accused West's label, Def Jam, of winding up sales, he said the label was buying up an album. Graduation debuted on the first line of the Billboard 200. For this chart, album sales were record highs for more than two years. The second single from the album, the song "Stronger", climbed to the first line of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Graduation later received double-platinum status. The album received generally positive reviews from critics. Ben Detrick from XXL Magazine considers Graduation's victory over Curtis historic, paving the way for rappers not matching the template image of a gangsta-rapper. “If there was a moment in the history of hip-hop that marked a change in its direction, then it was most likely a confrontation between 50 Cent and Kanye in 2007,” he writes. In 2007, Kanye West received eight ‘Grammy’ nominations, of which he won four: best rap album for Graduation, best solo rap performance for ‘Stronger’, best rap song for ‘Good Life’, and best rap performance for a duet or the band behind ‘Southside’.
Soon, however, significant changes took place in Kanye West's life. A few months after the release of Graduation, in November 2007, his mother, Donda West, died of complications from plastic surgery. A few months after that, he quarreled with his lover, Alexis Fifer, whom he met back in 2002 and became engaged in August 2006. These events had a great influence on the rapper, who went in 2008 on the concert tour Glow in the Dark Tour. At the 2008 MTV VMA Award Ceremony, he presented his fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak, performing his main single, "Love Lockdown". The album was very different from West's previous work. Music critics attributed it not to hip-hop, but the genres of electro-pop and synth-pop. To convey his feelings, West decided to resort to singing and using auto-tuning, which caused an ambiguous reaction among many fans. Also, when creating the album, the Roland TR-808 drum machine was widely used, which is also reflected in the title of the album. Among the main themes of the album are loneliness, alienation, and guilt.
808s & Heartbreak was released on Roc-A-Fella and Island Def Jam labels on November 24, 2008, shortly before Thanksgiving, to increase sales. 808s & Heartbreak received positive reviews from critics, but overall ratings were lower than previous albums. Despite this, the album debuted on the first line of the Billboard 200 chart; 450,000 copies were sold in the first week. The main single from the album, the song "Love Lockdown", debuted on the third line of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The second single, "Heartless", rose to the second line of the Hot 100. Later the album received platinum status. Although the 808s & Heartbreak was the subject of criticism, after its release, it changed hip-hop, becoming a template for novice rappers and R & B musicians, including Drake and Future. According to Matthew Trammell of Rolling Stone, the album was ahead of its time and was "possibly the most brilliant work" of West.
In 2009, one of the most famous scandals involving Kanye West took place. In September, at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift received the Best Female Video Award for the clip for "You Belong with Me". At the time of the award presentation, West went on stage, took the microphone from Swift and announced that "Beyoncé had one of the best clips of all time!", Referring to the clip for "Single Ladies". This trick was negatively perceived by both fans and other musicians. Some even refer to this situation as one of the conspiracy theories in the hip-hop world. To prove this point of view, they cite the fact that as soon as the rapper jumped onto the stage, Beyonce's face immediately appeared on the screen. This was done before the rapper said anything, which provided an opportunity for viewers to see the reaction of the singer to his words.
2010-2012: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Collaborations
After the incident on MTV VMA 2009, which received wide media coverage, Kanye West took a break from working on music and became interested in fashion. However, he soon went to Hawaii, where for several months, almost around the clock, he worked on his fifth album. West invited various musicians and friends to work on the album, including Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Q-Tip, and RZA, as well as rather unusual guests like Nicki Minaj and Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. Noah Callahan-Bever, the editor of Complex magazine, also invited to the studio, described the process of recording the album as "collective": West consulted with all the invited musicians and asked for their opinion.
The album, titled My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was released on November 22, 2010. The album received rave reviews from critics: The New York Times called it a "phenomenal album," The Washington Post called it a "masterpiece," and The Independent called it "the brightest, most ambitious pop music album in recent years." The album made it to the numerous lists of the best albums of 2010, taking first place in 22 of them. Rolling Stone placed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on his list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2012 in 353rd place, NME in the same list placed him in 21st place. Despite this, album sales were worse than previous rapper albums. During the first week, 496,000 copies of the album were sold, which allowed him to debut on the first line of the Billboard 200 chart. After the first week, album sales began to fall, which, however, did not prevent him from receiving platinum status in the United States. Four singles were released from the album: "Power", "Runaway", "Monster" and "All of the Lights". All four singles, as well as the title track of the album, "Dark Fantasy", were on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but could not rise above the 12th line. Despite critical acclaim, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was not nominated for the best album of the year at the 54th Grammy Awards, which some critics called "neglect." At the same time, West also hosted a GOOD Friday promotion, during which he posted individual songs every Friday for free listening. The action took place from August 20 to December 17, 2010.
After performing at the 2011 Coachella Festival, which 'The Hollywood Reporter' magazine called "one of the greatest performances in the hip-hop genre," Kanye West released Watch the Throne along with Jay-Z on August 8, 2011. The album debuted on the first line of the Billboard 200. Seven singles were released from it, of which the song "Niggas in Paris" was the most successful, rising to fifth place on the Billboard Hot 100. September 14, 2012, Kanye West released the album Cruel Summer - a compilation consisting of compositions performed by musicians of the GOOD Music label he created. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200. Four singles were released from the album, two of which, "Mercy" and "Clique," made it to the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100. West also became the director of the short film Cruel Summer shown in a special seven-screen pavilion at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
2013-2015: Yeezus and cooperation with Adidas
West began work on his sixth album, titled Yeezus, in Paris. Setting out to “destroy commercial music,” on Yeezus he combined elements of the Chicago drill, acid house and industrial. A few weeks before the release, West invited producer Rick Rubin to help give the album a minimalist feel. Rubin himself claims that they worked on it for more than two weeks, 15 hours a day and that this task was "incredibly difficult." In anticipation of the release of the album, an advertising campaign was carried out, which included video projections of the song "New Slaves" in 66 places around the world and television appearances. Yeezus was released on July 18, 2013, and received positive reviews from critics. It became the rapper's sixth album, rising to the first line of the Billboard 200 chart. However, despite the advertising campaign, album sales for the first week were the lowest in West's entire career - 327,000 copies, which did not prevent the album from later receiving platinum status in the United States. The main single of the album, the composition "Black Skinhead", was launched on the radio, however, it could only rise to the 69th line of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while the second single, the more relaxed song "Bound 2", could rise to the 12th line. In September 2013, West announced the Yeezus Tour concert tour, his first solo tour in five years, to which he invited rapper Kendrick Lamar.
In June 2013, Kanye West and the stars of television shows and model Kim Kardashian had their first child, North. In October, West and Kardashian announced their engagement, which attracted media attention. In November, West announced that he was working with Rick Rubin and Q-Tip on a new album, scheduled for release in the summer of 2014. In December, Adidas announced the launch of a clothing line created in conjunction with West - Adidas Yeezy. In May 2014, West and Kardashian got married in Florence, a large number of artists and celebrities were invited to the closed ceremony. December 31, 2014, West released the single "Only One", performed in conjunction with Paul McCartney.
In January 2015, Rihanna’s single “Four Five Seconds” was released, performed in collaboration with West and McCartney. In February, West performed at Saturday Night Live, where he performed with Sia and rapper Vic Mensa his new song, “Wolves.” Also in February, West unveiled its Adidas-based clothing line, called Yeezy Season 1. It was featured at New York Fashion Week. In March, West released the single, “All Day,” performed in collaboration with Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, and Paul McCartney. He first performed the song at the 2015 BRIT Awards, along with many American rappers and representatives of the British grime scene. In September, during New York Fashion Week, West presented his second clothing collection, Yeezy Season 2, this time created independently of Adidas.
2015 Present: The Life of Pablo
Initially, the release of the seventh album of the rapper then called 'So Help Me God', was scheduled for 2014. In March 2015, West announced a name change to 'SWISH'. In the same month, the Chicago Institute of the Arts awarded Kanye West a doctorate in art history. In March, the rapper performed at the Glastonbury Festival, although more than 120,000 people signed a petition demanding a ban on the performance. At the end of his speech, West said that he was "the greatest rock musician of all who lives on this planet." This performance caused a mixed reaction from the media and fans. Corey Taylor, the lead singer of Slipknot, released a video in which he stated: "Kanye, you are not the greatest rock musician of all time. The fact that you declare it yourself speaks for itself.” 'The Who', who performed at the festival the next day, also disagreed with West's statement. In December 2015, West released the song "Facts".
In January 2016, Kanye West presented two tracks, “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in L.A.”, which later appeared on the album, and also once again changed the name of his seventh album, this time to Waves. However, this name caused a quarrel with rapper Wiz Khalifa. As a result, West changed the name of the album to the final version – 'The Life of Pablo'. The album was released on February 11, 2016, at Madison Square Garden, while showing off his new clothing collection Yeezy Season 3. The Life of Pablo was released on February 14, 2016, exclusively through the Tidal streaming service. After the release of the album, the rapper continued to make changes to it, calling it "living, breathing, constantly changing creative expression", and studio albums on disks - a dying format. Despite the claimed exclusivity, The Life of Pablo was released in April on other digital platforms. The album as a whole received positive reviews from critics, but several editions gave average ratings. The album did not initially hit the charts because Tidal did not provide sales data, but it became known that in the first 24 hours the album was illegally downloaded more than 500,000 times. However, in April, the album hit the Billboard 200, where it debuted at number one.
In February 2016, West announced that his new album, titled Turbo Grafx 16 in honor of the eponymous game console, was due out in the summer of 2016. In June, West announced the second compilation of GOOD Music, called Cruel Winter, releasing its first single, “Champions”.
In mid-2018, he returned to writing music. For five weeks, albums were released to which West was involved as the author of music: Pusha T “Daytona”, Kanye West “Ye”, Kids See Ghosts “Kids See Ghosts”, Nas “Nasir ", Teyana Taylor" K.T.S.E. ".
In October 2019, West approved the release date for Jesus Is King on October 25th. The album was released with the premiere of the film based on the album.
Throughout his career, West has tried many different musical styles and genres. When asked about who influenced his early work, West called artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, George Michael, LL Cool J, Phil Collins, and Madonna. He also called Puff Daddy "the most important cultural figure" in his life, and David Bowie - "one of the most important sources of inspiration." The first musical style used by West was the so-called "chipmunk soul". This technique is based on the use of significantly accelerated samples of classic soul compositions, which makes the sound higher. According to the rapper, he borrowed this style from RZA from the group Wu-Tang Clan, who used it in the 90s. The RZA spoke positively of West, saying that he "respects him very much". This style gained fame after the release of The Blueprint, which was produced by West. He later developed it on his debut album, The College Dropout. After the unfinished version of the album hit the Internet, West decided to significantly improve the album by adding to the composition, among other things, stringed instruments and gospel choirs.
West invited the American composer John Brion to work on his second album, 'Late Registration', which was influenced by artists outside the hip-hop genre such as Portishead. At 'Late Registration', West combined his soul-based hip-hop with Brion's live orchestral music. He also used various percussion instruments not commonly used in popular or hip-hop music, such as the berimbau, Chinese bells, and vibraphone. According to Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone, at Late Registration, West "is trying to turn the whole music world into hip-hop territory" and "destroying all the clichés associated with hip-hop." Music critic Robert Christgau wrote that "Hip-Hop has never been so complex and skillful." For a long time, West was the only popular performer to tour with a string orchestra.
On his third album, Graduation, West moved away from his usual soul. Considering that 'Late Registration' had a poor structure, West decided to make Graduation more dense by removing sketches from it. The album included elements of various genres, including electro, disco, rock music, and Chicago house. Other sources of inspiration include rock arena groups such as U2, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin.
West in the fashion field
Already becoming famous as a musician, Kanye West became interested in the fashion industry and wanted to engage in fashion design. In September 2005, he announced that he was preparing his Pastelle clothing line. "Now that I won the Grammy and finished working on 'Late Registration', I'm ready to launch my clothing line this spring," the rapper said. Work on it went on for four years, its elements were demonstrated by West at various ceremonies, but in 2009 the line was closed. In the same year, West, in collaboration with Nike, released Air Yeezy sneakers, the second version of which, Air Yeezy 2, was released in 2012. In the spring of 2009, West sneakers created together with Louis Vuitton were introduced. They were launched for sale in June 2009. Also, West collaborated with Italian shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti and the Japanese brand BAPE.
In October 2011, West introduced his first women's collection, DW Kanye West, at Paris Fashion Week. He was supported by fashion designers such as Dean and Dan Keithen, Olivier Theyskens and Jeremy Scott. Despite this, the collection received cool and negative reviews from critics. In March 2012, West presented his second collection, which received more positive reviews.
In November 2013, it became known that West had stopped working with Nike and was working with Adidas. In February 2015, Yeezy 750 Boost sneakers with Adidas were introduced. In October 2015, the first joint line of clothing by Adidas and Kanye West, Yeezy Season 1, was presented. She received positive reviews from critics, Vogue magazine noted the “military aspect” - the collection was created after West saw the riots in England in 2011. In June 2015, the second sneakers created jointly with Adidas, Yeezy Boost 350, were introduced. In September 2015, during New York Fashion Week, West introduced the Yeezy Season 2 clothing collection, this time created independently of Adidas. In October, he introduced the Yeezy 950 Boot, co-created with Adidas. On February 11, 2016, along with the presentation of his album 'The Life of Pablo', a collection of Yeezy Season 3 clothes was presented at Madison Square Garden.
West in business
In 2004, shortly after the release of The College Dropout's debut album, Kanye West founded GOOD Music, in collaboration with Sony BMG. The first musicians of the label were West himself, Common and John Legend. Currently, the label's artists include West, Big Sean, Pusha T, Theana Taylor, Mos Def, D'banj and John Legend, as well as producers, including Hudson Mohawke, Q-Tip, Travis Scott, Jeff Basker and S1. In November 2015, West appointed rapper Pusha T as president of the label.
In 2008, the rapper announced that he was about to open ten Fatburger fast-food restaurants. Two restaurants were opened, but one of them was soon closed, and the second was bought by the chain itself.
In January 2012, West announced the creation of a creative agency, DONDA, named after his mother. In the announcement, West said that the company "will continue what Steve Jobs did not have time to finish" and that it will "collect the greatest thinkers and put them in a creative space in which they can exchange ideas." The goal of the company was declared "creating products and experiences that people will want and will be able to acquire." Critics have noted the minimalist styling of the company's products.
In March 2015, it was announced that West had become a co-owner of Tidal's streaming service. The service specializes in broadcasting lossless audio and high-resolution clips. In total, the service is managed by 16 musicians, among whom, in addition to West, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Madonna, and Nicki Minaj. This became possible after Jay-Z acquired the parent company of the service, Aspiro. Tidal's idea was an artist-driven service, as one of the best-known streaming services, Spotify was criticized for its low royalty payments. "The main problem is to get everyone to respect the music again, to understand its value," Jay-Z said in a press release.
'Kanye West' Foundation
In 2003, Kanye West founded the Kanye West Foundation, his charity foundation in Chicago, created to help young people and reduce illiteracy. In August 2007, the fund held a charity concert, which raised more than $ 500,000. After the death of his mother, the rapper renamed the fund to The Dr. Donda West Foundation, and in 2011 completely closed it.
In 2013, West, together with his friend rapper Rhymefest and his wife Donnie Smith, opened the non-profit organization Donda’s House.
Kanye West took an active part in many charity events, concerts and various fundraisers: to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Living Planet Earth festival, World Water Day, charity marathons Nike, as well as a joint program with MTV to help the military returning from the war in Iraq.
Scandals with West
A lot of scandals are connected with Kanye West. He is known for his direct statements at various awards ceremonies, during his speeches and on Twitter, for which he was both criticized and praised by the media, other artists, as well as two US presidents.
On September 2, 2005, West was invited to a charity concert in memory of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, during which he was to appeal to US citizens via television. However, while on the air, he decided to move away from the prepared text:
''I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for food.' And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even donating, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help—with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way—and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!''
After this speech, Mike Myers continued his prepared speech. After he passed the word back to West, West declared: "George W. Bush does not care about black people." Immediately after this phrase, the broadcast director switched the camera, but this did not prevent the quote from gaining national fame and causing an ambiguous reaction in society.
Bush later called the episode a “disgusting moment” in his presidency. In a November 2010 interview with Matt Lauer for the Today television show, West said he regrets this episode: “I spoke to George W. Bush at the time of disappointment, I had no reason to call him racist. I believe that at such moments people do not always choose the most appropriate words.” Bush replied to the rapper's apology, saying that he was grateful to him. “I am not a hater. I have nothing against Kanye West. Nobody wants to be called a racist if he wholeheartedly believes in the equality of all races, ” Bush said. He also clarified that he mentioned West in his memoirs as an example only: “Not only Kanye West spoke this way during Katrina. I just named it as an example. " However, not everyone believed that West should apologize. So Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam, believes that the rapper was right and that “it was not the words themselves that were important, but the attitude of insensibility to our community that had existed for too long.”
In September 2013, West was criticized by the human rights organization Human Rights Foundation for speaking at the wedding of Aisultan Nazarbayev, the grandson of the president of Kazakhstan, in late August. The human rights situation in Kazakhstan is problematic, which is why some other musicians, including Sting, refused to perform there. According to TMZ, the rapper received $3 million for his performance.
At the end of September 2013, West published some angry posts on his Twitter, in which he expressed dissatisfaction with Jimmy Kimmel. Previously, Kimmel showed Jimmy Kimmel Live! a sketch in which the children portrayed West's earlier interview with Zane Lowe for BBC Radio 1. In an hour-long interview, called by the NME magazine "extraordinary," West, among other things, described himself as "the greatest rock star on the planet" and God. Kimmel later said that after the sketch went on air, West called him and asked for an apology. In October, Kanye West appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where they reconciled, after which West once again expressed his dissatisfaction with society, the fashion industry, and the actions of the paparazzi.
In a November 2013 radio interview, West talked about his views on why Barack Obama cannot reform. “Let me tell you about Bush with oil money and Obama without money. People say that Obama cannot and does not change anything. This is because he does not have the necessary acquaintances. Blacks do not have the level of connections that Jews have. Blacks do not have the level of connections that people have in the oil business,” the rapper said. The Anti-Defamation League replied to the rapper: “This is a classic anti-Semitism. The eternal story of the almighty Jews who rule at all levels of government.” The organization also demanded an apology from the rapper. In December, in an interview with a Chicago radio station, West called his statement “an ignorant compliment.” “I don’t know how to be offended when they tell you that you have a lot of money,” he said.
In February 2016, West commented on Bill Cosby's allegations of sexual harassment on Twitter, claiming he was innocent. This caused a flurry of indignation among many, including many celebrities. At the same time, West got into a skirmish on Twitter with rapper Wiz Khalifa. Starting over the name of West's new album, she soon switched to his ex-girlfriend and mother of Khalifa’s child, Amber Rose. She also joined her, complaining that West had mentioned her and the child. However, a few days later the skirmish was stopped after a personal meeting of rappers.
The story of the scandalous antics of Kanye West at various award ceremonies dates back to 2004, at the American Music Awards. West received a nomination as the best new artist, but lost to Gretchen Wilson, after which he left the ceremony. He later stated: "I felt robbed and didn't want to give any stupid politically correct comments ... I was the best new artist of this year." He also called all this a conspiracy against him, doubted the procedure for voting the prize and promised never to visit her again.
In 2006, after the Grammy nominations were published, West announced that he would “be very worried” if he did not win the award for the best album of the year for his Late Registration album. “I can never convince myself. Do you know why? Because I worked hard. No matter what I do, no matter how I behave. You will never take away the amount of effort that I put into all this. I do not want to hear all these politically correct excuses. I worked hard to get here. I have invested my love, I have invested my heart, I have invested my money in this album. People like these songs and you tell me about political correctness,” he said. In November 2006, when the video for the song “Touch the Sky” did not win the Best Video Award at the MTV Europe Music Awards, West went on to the stage where the winners, Justice and Simian were at that time, and stated that his video was supposed to win because "a million dollars and Pamela Anderson starred in it." He also added that if he does not win, “then the prize will lose respect”.
In 2007, West expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that instead of him, the ceremony of presenting MTV Video Music Awards 2007 allowed the singer Britney Spears to open. “he has not released a single hit over the years!” Said the rapper. He also said that the reason, in his opinion, was his "wrong skin color." Later, at the ceremony, the rapper lost in all five categories, which upset him even more. According to the Associated Press, West shouted "the second year in a row!" I try my best, I have ... the best album of the year! ”and promised not to attend the MTV channel ceremony anymore. West later said in an interview on radio that when creating the song "Stronger", he planned to perform with her at the opening of MTV Video Music Awards.
In September 2009, at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift received the Best Female Video Award for the video for the song “You Belong with Me”. However, at the time the award was presented, West went on stage, took the microphone from Swift and announced that, in his opinion, Beyoncé’s clip for “Single Ladies”, also nominated for this award, deserves it more: “Hey, Taylor, I'm very happy for I let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!” After that, he shrugged, gave the microphone to the discouraged Swift, and left the stage. Beyoncé, who received the award for the best video of the year, later called Swift onto the stage so she could finish her speech. The rapper’s trick was criticized by many celebrities, as well as US President Barack Obama, who called West a "boob," and Donald Trump, who called the episode "disgusting" and suggested boycotting the rapper. The phrase “Imma let you finish” has become an Internet meme, many different images have been created that parody this trick. Right after this episode, West apologized to Taylor Swift on his blog, adding that he was "not crazy, but just realist." Later, he also apologized to her at The Jay Leno Show. "It was rough. I’m not trying to make excuses, because I was wrong," the rapper said. Two days after the incident, Swift commented on The View talk show, where she said that West did not personally apologize, but she was ready to talk to him. After that, West called her and asked for forgiveness, to which Swift replied that she had forgiven him.
In September 2010, West once again apologized to Taylor Swift on his Twitter account. “When I woke up from this crazy nightmare, I looked in the mirror and said to myself: “Kanye, grow up!” Beyonce did not need all this. MTV didn't need it and Taylor, her family, friends, and fans didn't need it all,” the rapper wrote. He also said that he had prepared a song for her, which he promised to perform himself if she did not want to. However, in November, he refused his words, saying that his actions on MTV VMA 2009 were “disinterested” and that he helped her “get on 100 covers of various magazines and sell a million in the first week”. West developed this idea in February 2016 with the release of The Life of Pablo, where he used the line “I think Taylor and I can still sleep in the Famous”. Why? I made this bitch famous." After the reaction of dissatisfied fans of the singer, West said that he is an artist and "as an artist, he will express his feelings without censorship." The rapper also noted that he received Swift's permission. According to Swift herself, she objected to the "extremely hateful" text but did not know about this line. In the same month, her 1989 album won a Grammy for Best Album of the Year. In her speech addressed to the girls, she, without calling West by name, stated that "on your way, you will meet people who will try to underestimate your successes or ascribe to your merit your achievements." In June 2016, West released a video for the song "Famous," in which he is depicted lying in a common bed with eleven naked wax figures created in the image of various famous personalities, among whom was Taylor Swift.
In February 2015, at the 57th Grammy Awards, when Beck received the award for the best album of the year, West went on stage, but left immediately. Many initially considered this a joke referring to MTV VMA 2009. But in an interview after the ceremony, he explained his actions: "Beck had to respect artistry and he had to give his award to Beyoncé. And yes, I now have a wife, daughter and my clothing line, so I won't do anything that could jeopardize my daughter, but I'll still fight for creativity. That's why I didn't say a word, but you all understood right away when Ye went up on stage.” Two weeks later, the rapper apologized to Beck.
In August 2015, West received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from MTV for his special contribution to music. During the presentation, West read out an 11-minute monologue on creativity, truth, and power, after which he announced that he would participate in the 2020 presidential race.
In May 2018, many African-American celebrities, from Ava Duverney to Spike Lee, condemned West's statement in an interview - he said that 400 years of slavery suggest that the black population was enslaved “mentally”.
Since 2002, West met with designer Alexis Fifer. In August 2006, the couple became engaged, but after 18 months they broke up. From 2008 to the summer of 2010, the rapper met with Amber Rose. In 2012, West began dating reality TV star and model Kim Kardashian, whom he had known for more than five years. On October 31, 2013, on Kim’s 33rd birthday, Kanye West proposed to her at the AT&T Park Stadium in San Francisco, in front of family members and family friends. On May 24, 2014, the couple married in Florence, Italy. Kanye and Kim have four children: daughter North “Nori” West was born June 15, 2013, son Saint West was born December 5, 2015, and Chicago's "Shay" Westrod daughter January 15, 2018, which was born through surrogacy. It was named Chicago because this city means a lot to Kanye. On May 9, 2019, the son of Saam West was born.
West mother's death and the "Hey Mama" song
On November 10, 2007, at about 7:35 pm local time, doctors received an emergency call from the house of the rapper’s mother, Donda West. When she was taken to the hospital, she was already unconscious. Attempts by doctors to bring her back to life did not lead to success. At 8:30, doctors ascertained her death, at the age of 58 years. An examination showed that Donda West died due to heart problems associated with “various postoperative factors”: the day before, she underwent liposuction and breast reduction surgery. To perform these operations, she turned to plastic surgeon Andre Abolian, but he demanded that she first check her health status. She did not do this and turned to another surgeon, Gen Adams, who operated.
Adams expressed his condolences to the West family, however, citing medical secrecy, refused to publicly discuss the details of the operation. Later, the California Medical Council decided to revoke his medical license. In November, Adams appeared on the Larry King Show, but left after a few minutes, saying that he respects the rights of the West family and does not intend to answer questions. Two months later, he returned to the program, where he stated that "the autopsy results showed what he expected." According to the final report of the coroner, the death of Donda West came as a result of "coronary heart disease and various postoperative factors associated with liposuction and mammoplasty."
Donda West was buried on November 20, 2007, in her hometown of Oklahoma City. During his first performance after his mother's death at the London O2 Arena, Kanye West performed the song "Hey Mama" dedicated to her. Performing it, West burst into tears on stage. Speaking as part of the Glow in the Dark Tour concert tour, West also dedicated to his mother a cover version of Journey's Don't Stop Believin 'performed by one of West's backing vocalists. The rapper himself said: "I chose this particular song because of the words the lyrics say what I always asked me to never stop believing."
In December 2008, during a press conference in New Zealand, Kanye West announced that for him to lose his mother "is like losing an arm and a leg and trying to survive it." In a 2015 interview with Q magazine, West said he blames himself for his mother’s death. "If I had not moved to Los Angeles, he would have been alive ... But I do not want to talk about it, because I will start to cry," said the rapper.
In 2009, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the so-called “Donda West Law,” according to which patients preparing for plastic surgery are required to undergo a medical examination.
West's problems with the law
In December 2006, American stunt performer Robert "Yvel" Knievel sued Kanye West for alleged copyright infringement. In the video for the song “Touch the Sky,” West, in the image of “Yvela Kanyvela,” tries to fly over the canyon on a rocket. According to Knievel, the clip used his name and image, which are trademarks. Knievel also noted that the “vulgar and offensive” image in the video discredits his reputation. West's lawyers argued that the video is satire and is therefore authorized by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. In November 2007, a few days before his death, Knievel announced that he no longer had any complaints against West after he visited him. Knievel also called West "an amazing young man and gentleman."
On September 11, 2008, Kanye West and his bodyguard and manager Don Crowley were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after bickering with paparazzi on charges of vandalism. According to police, during the hassle, the cameras of the photographers were damaged. West and Crowley were later released on bail of $ 20,000. The Los Angeles District Court referred the case to the city court, which re-qualified the crime as misconduct and later sentenced to 50 hours of community service. The rapper was also required to take anger control courses. West was re-detained on November 14, 2008, near a hotel in Gateshead, England, due to a fight involving a photographer from Newcastle upon Tyne. According to police reports, the singer was later released "due to lack of evidence."
July 19, 2013, leaving the Los Angeles International Airport, Kanye West was surrounded by paparazzi. One of the photographers, Daniel Ramos, asked “why shouldn’t we communicate with you?”, To which West answered: “I already told you not to communicate with me, right? Do you want me to have problems? So I robbed you and then paid $ 250,000?” After these words, West ran to the photographer and began to tear the camera out of his hands. The video published by the TMZ website shows that the struggle between West and the photographer lasted several seconds, after which the female voice-overs asks West to stop, he lets the photographer go and leaves. Later, doctors were called to the photographer. It was announced that West could be accused of attempted robbery . However, later the charge was reclassified as misconduct. In March 2014, West was convicted of beating, with a probation period of 2 years. The rapper was also required to take 24 sessions of the course on controlling anger, complete 250 hours of compulsory community service, and indemnify the photographer.
Following the success of Jesus Walks, in which West raised issues of faith, the media became interested in his religious beliefs. “I will say that I am a believer. I accepted Jesus as my Savior. But I can also say that I let him down every day," said the rapper. In 2008, in an interview with The Fader magazine, West called himself “the voice God chose.” In a 2009 interview with Bossip, West clarified that he believed in God, but “would never have gone into religion,” because he believes that “religion is aimed at separating and condemning people, rather than rapprochement and understanding ". In 2014, during one of his concerts, West declared that he was a Christian.
Influence and Legacy
Kanye West received critical acclaim and was repeatedly named one of the greatest artists of the 21st century. All Music editor Jason Berkmeyer writes about his influence: "West smashed certain stereotypes about rappers that existed at the beginning of the 21st century, becoming a superstar on his terms, without adapting his appearance, rhetoric or music to anyone's patterns." Ben Westhoff, the senior editor of Village Voice, called him the greatest hip-hop musician of all time, noting that "he created the best albums and changed hip-hop the most, his music is likely to stand the test of time." Complex's Dave Bry called him "the most important artist, in any art form, in any genre." Joe Muggs from The Guardian compared West to David Bowie in the “modern mainstream”, noting that “at the moment there is no one else who can sell as many albums as West while remaining unshakably experimental and capable of shaking everything in culture and politics.”
Kanye West was different from most other rappers, not only in the fact that he left the middle class but also in his bright style in clothes and openness of speech. Rolling Stone claims West has changed hip-hop by "creating a deep but glossy rap style" and calls it "an interesting and confusing pop star of the 2000s: a rapper who perfectly mastered, and later married hip-hop framework; a producer who created his sound, and later gave it to his imitators; dazzling, spending a huge amount of money sybarite, able to say deep thoughts about college, culture, and economics; "a narcissistic person who has enough artistic power to support his statements." West was one of the first rappers to publicly criticize homophobia in hip-hop. The confrontation between the albums Curtis of rapper 50 Cent and Graduation Kanye West changed hip-hop, opening the way for rappers who do not fit the template image of a gangsta rapper. The Guardian calls this moment “a key event in hip-hop,” which “emphasized the various aspects of hip-hop of that decade: the first was gangsta rap, while West was an alternative for a thinking person." The 808s & Heartbreak album, which received mixed reviews from critics and listeners, influenced hip-hop, becoming a template for many new artists who want to change the typical hip-hop splurge to more personal and deeper themes. Such musicians include Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Drake, Future, Kid Cudi, Childish Gambino, Lil Durk, Chief Keef, and Soulja Boy.
Kanye West is one of the best-selling artists, the total sales of his albums and singles in digital format and on physical media has exceeded 121 million copies. Kanye West's first six albums, all of which went platinum, have received numerous awards and critical acclaim. All of his albums became commercially successful: ‘The Life of Pablo’ became the sixth consecutive album to rise to the first line of the Billboard 200 chart. West released six songs, digital sales of which exceeded three million: more than 3,700,000 copies sold by Gold Digger, more than 5 million from Stronger, more than 5.5 million from Heartless, more than 4,120,000 from ET, more than 3 million from Love Lockdown, and more than 3 million from Niggas in Paris. Thanks to this, West ranked third in the number of digital sales in the 2000s. In total, as of 2012, sales of Kanye West songs through digital distribution in the US reached 30 million, which allowed him to enter the top ten best-selling musicians in digital sales.
As of 2016, West received 57 Grammy nominations, of which he won 21, making him one of the record holders in the number of nominations won and a record holder among hip-hop musicians as well as artists of his age. About.com put him in sixth place on the list of 25 greatest hip-hop producers. In 2008, MTV placed West in first place on its annual list of top rappers. In 2010, MTV also named Kanye West Man of the Year. Billboard placed him in third place on the list of the top 10 hip-hop producers of the 2000s and 15th place on the list of the best musicians of the decade. Along with Bob Dylan, he leads in the number of first places in the annual ranking of music critics Pazz & Jop, both took this position four times. Kanye West was twice featured on the annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine and several times on various Forbes lists.
Rolling Stone, in his list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2012, noted three Kanye West albums: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was placed on the 353rd line, The College Dropout - on the 298th, and Late Registration - on the 118th. The NME released a similar list in 2013, which also noted three rapper albums: Graduation took 470th position, The College Dropout - 273rd, and ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ - 21st. Pitchfork named ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ the best album among those released from 2010 to 2014, saying that with the help of this album West "prepared the territory for the greatest architects of the new decade on which they could build their masterpieces." Yeezus took eighth place on the same list. Pitchfork also released a list of the best songs from 2010 to 2014, which featured five West songs: “Blood on the Leaves” at 76th position, “New Slaves” at 51st, “Niggas in Paris” at 36 “Monster” on the 18th and “Runaway” on the third.
2004 The College Dropout
2005 Late Registration
2008 Heartbreak & 808s
2010 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
2011 Watch the Throne
2016 The Life of Pablo
2018 Kids See Ghosts
2019 Jesus Is King
In September 2018, Kanye West and another famous rapper Lil Pump released a joint clip called “I Love It”. The video premiered at the Pornhub Award Ceremony, which was directed by West.
In the video, musicians dressed in giant suits with square shoulders walk along the corridor after actress Adele Givens, who talks about orgasms. Periodically, he turns around, in response, the performers grimace.
On September 7, 2018, the video was posted on Youtube, after which it scored as of September 30, 2018, ‘188 197 728’ views, 3 and a half million likes and 657 thousand dislikes.
2009 “Thank You and You’re Welcome”
2009 “Through the Wire: Lyrics & Illuminations”
2009 Glow in the Dark
Inspirational Kanye West Quotes
"It matters and then like it doesn't matter. What matters is the people who are sparked by it. And the people who are like offended by it, it doesn't matter. Because it's about motivating the doers. Because I’m here to follow my dreams and inspire other people to follow their dreams, too.”
“Justice could just be clearing a path for people to dream properly.”
“If I don’t scream, if I don’t say something then no one’s going to say anything.”
“Recognize and embrace your flaws so you can learn from them. Sometimes it takes a little polishing to truly shine.”
“We all self-conscious. I’m just the first to admit it.”