Kanye West (born June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia, United States) is an American producer, rapper, and fashion designer who made a name for himself as a successful and critically acclaimed solo artist in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
West grew up in Chicago, the son of a photographer and former Black Panther father and a college professor mother, and attended Chicago State University for one year before dropping out to pursue a music career. He started his fame as a producer early on, contributing to Jermaine Dupri’s album Life in 1472 (1998) before going to New York City.
where he made his name as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, particularly on rapper Jay-album Z’s Blueprint (2001). West’s mastery of fast sample-based rhythms quickly made him a popular producer, but he fought to be allowed to compose his music (partly because of the perception that his middle-class background denied him credibility as a rapper). When he was finally released.
The College Dropout (2004), was a huge hit: sales surged, and critics praised the album’s aural sophistication and brilliant language, which merged humour, faith, insight, and political consciousness on songs like “Through the Wire” and the gospel choir-backed “Jesus Walks.” In 2005, the latter track received a Grammy for the best rap song, while West also won Grammys for best rap album and best rhythm-and-blues song (as one of the songwriters on Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name”).
West immediately rose to fame thanks to his outgoing demeanor. Late Registration (2005), West’s second album, matched his first’s financial success with a variety of hit singles, including “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” and “Gold Digger,” and garnered him three more Grammy Awards.
KEEP BELIEVING KANYE 2020 Thank you Jesus Christ pic.twitter.com/OgFDGOCAOp
— ye (@kanyewest) November 3, 2020
He also garnered notoriety for his widely reported claim that President George W. Bush “doesn’t care about black people” because of the federal government’s tardy reaction to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005—a remark that Bush later described as one of his worst moments as president.
West continued to work as a producer while his fame as a musician grew, with credits on songs by artists as diverse as Nas, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé. He also launched the GOOD Music record label. Graduation (2007), his third album, including the hit singles “Good Life” and “Stronger” earned him four Grammy Awards.
West released 808s and Heartbreak in 2008, an album that dealt with personal sorrow and remorse. Its tone was drastically different from his previous albums, as West chose to sing rather than rap his lyrics (with the help of a vocal production instrument called Auto-Tune).
Late 2009 was devoted to rebuilding West’s image. He’d rushed onto the MTV Video Music Awards stage, interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for best female video, to exclaim that “Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time.” West was swiftly demonized in the media when video footage of the incident went viral on the Internet. A series of apologies followed, some of which were written as a stream-of-consciousness narrative on West’s Twitter feed.
The bravado that got him into trouble in 2009 fuelled a successful return to music the following year with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a massively intricate examination of the nature of fame and celebrity. The album represented some of West’s most ambitious work, and it was rewarded with a trio of
Grammys. It featured potent rhymes that were equal parts boastful and self-effacing, instrumentation that ranged from tribal drums to soaring orchestral accompaniment, and a list of guest performers that included Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kid Cudi, and Chris Rock. Watch the Throne (2011), a Billboard chart-topping collaboration with Jay-Z that included the Grammy-winning singles “Otis,” “Niggas in Paris,” and “No Church in the Wild.”
Cruel Summer, a compilation album featuring West and some of the musicians signed to his GOOD Music label, was released in 2012. West continues to explore the dark corners of his brain a year later on Yeezus (2013), at times interpreting his insights through the provocative lens of racial politics, like on “New Slaves.
” The album featured him rapping over jagged minimalist compositions evocative of house and industrial music, garnished with sparse recordings of soul and dancehall vocals, in contrast to the opulence of his prior solo efforts. Its most hit track was “Bound 2,” which featured West and his then-girlfriend, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, in a steamy music video. (The couple, who were often in the spotlight, married in 2014.) The couple announced their divorce in 2021.)
West debuted the first “season,” or collection, of his long-awaited fashion line, YEEZY, in February 2015, in collaboration with German apparel company Adidas. Men’s and women’s streetwear was highlighted in YEEZY Season 1, with oversized sweaters, military and surplus-inspired coats, sneakers, boots, and more.
West’s design work continued in the months leading up to the release of The Life of Pablo (2016), his eighth studio album; in fact, he revealed tunes from the album at his YEEZY Season 3 presentation at Madison Square Garden in New York. West’s ingenuity as a producer was further exhibited on the gospel-tinged album, but many considered it fragmented.
Furthermore, the work was overshadowed by the unusual circumstances of its release: after making an early version of the album available online, West continued to work on it in the studio, describing it as a “living breathing moving creative expression.” In November 2016, the album’s tour was abruptly cancelled, and West was momentarily hospitalized. YEEZY Season 5, West’s fifth fashion collection, debuted during New York Fashion Week in February 2017.
West remained unusually quiet for several months until making a dramatic return to social media in April 2018. He notably defended a broadcast comment in which he said that African American slaves had collaborated in their captivity. Later that year, he released you, a wild and unsettling album on which he revealed his bipolarity.
Following that came Kids See Ghosts, a collaboration with rapper Kid Cudi. It, too, concentrated on mental health, but far more effectively; dramatic and eerie, the album was universally regarded as more engaging and gratifying than West’s solo effort. Jesus Is King, his next album, was a gospel album that reflected his recommitment to Christianity, and it went on to win a Grammy for a best contemporary Christian music album.
West continued to work in fashion during this time, and YEEZY Seasons 6 and 7 were released in 2018 and 2019, respectively, however, none was displayed at New York Fashion Week. West launched his candidacy for president as a member of the Birthday Party in July 2020, less than four months before the election.
He didn’t campaign much, but he did put forth a programme that included overhauling the police and legal systems, lowering student debt, and allowing prayer in schools. West’s candidacy was backed by Republican President Donald Trump and his supporters, who believed he could sway some voters away from Democratic nominee Joe Biden in what was expected to be a razor-thin election.
However, West only received 0.04 per cent of the national vote, which was insufficient to affect the outcome. Donda, his tenth studio album, was released in 2021 and featured collaborations with JAY-Z and The Weeknd. Kanye West officially changed his name to Ye later that year.