Kanye Early Years
Kanye West, one of the most influential people in the world is the winner of 21 Grammy Awards and it is number 3 on Billboard s “Top 10 Producers of the Decade”. Kanye Omari West was born on June 8th, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia and he is an American rapper/songwriter/producer, film director, fashion designer, restaurant owner, gay rights advocate and an active and well-respected philanthropist. In 1980, he moved with his mother, Dr. Donda West to Chicago, Illinois after the divorce of his parents. His mother was the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University. She retired later on to become her son s manager. When he was 10 years old, his mother took him to Nanjing, China because she was asked to teach at Nanjing University, as part of an exchange program between the two universities. Kanye picked up Chinese pretty fast and he adjusted to the new environment very well.
His father, Ray West is a former member of the African-American revolutionary socialist Black Panther Party (1966-1982), he was involved in the Black Power movement in the 1970s and he was among the first black photojournalists working for “The Atlanta Journal Constitution”. Kanye attended Polaris High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and he was a very good student, managing to get only A s and B s. In 1997, he received a scholarship and he attended art classes, for one semester, at the Chicago s Academy Of Art, wherefrom he transferred to Chicago State University, only to drop out eventually because he wanted to pursuit a music career.
Kanye and his Music Debut
His music debut took place in 1996, when he produced 8 tracks on the debut album “Down To Earth” of Grav, a Chicago rapper. Kanye became a member and producer of a Chicago rap group called Go-Getters, together with rappers Timmy G, GLC, Arrowstar and Really Doe. The only album of the group, “World Record Holders” was released in 1999. West also produced between 1998 and 1999 for renowned artists suchlike Foxy Brown, Jermaine Dupri and Goodie Mob. Kanye West got his first important break in 2000, working as a producer for various artists signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. He produced Jay Z s “This Can t Be Life” by speeding up the drum beat taken from Dr. Dre s “Xxplosive”. His biggest influence in music is Wu-Tang Clan and RZA in particular and his mentor is Dion Wilson or No I.D., the godfather of Chicago rap and vice-president of Def Jam Recordings.
Kanye and his Accomplishments
He received international recognition for producing Jay-Z s sixth studio album and critically acclaimed “The Blueprint” and several hit singles for Janet Jackson, Ludacris and Alicia Keys, with huge commercial success. Initially, his production style combined his own instruments/drums with pitched-up samples taken from various soul tracks. Later, he redefined his style by also incorporating music genres like electronica, trip hop, the 1970 s R&B, classical music, technopop, anthem rock and baroque pop. He soon became a sought-after, cutting-edge and successful producer and during 2002-2003, he produced for artists like Monica, T.I., Nas, Mos Def, DMX, Ludacris and many others.
With all his success as a producer, he complained to Chris Anokute at Def Jam about the fact that no one in the industry took him seriously as a solo artist and rapper. Iniatially Roc-A-Fella Records refused to sign him, because he was not marketable as a rapper. Nevertheless, his solo career began when he rapped the third verse of Jay Z s “The Bounce” recorded on “The Blueprint” and he was eventually signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. His debut album as a solo artist, “The College Dropout ” was released in February 2004 and it was critically acclaimed. It featured his first solo single “Through the Wire”, which was inspired from an almost fatal car crash he was involved in, on October 23rd, 2002 as well as “Jesus Walks”, pervaded with his strong Christian faith. This first album received a triple platinum certification, it featured Jay-Z, Common, Mos Def, Ludacris and GLC and it encompassed some of his now famous style and artistry aspects – sampling and wordplay. During this time, he also produced Brandy s “Talk About Our Love”, Keyshia Cole s “I Changed My Mind” and Twista s “Overnight Celebrity”.
His second studio album, “Late Registration”, which was released on August 30th, 2005 was more eclectic than the first and it became the best album of the year and a “hip-hop classic” as it was called by “The Rolling Stones” magazine. On this triple platinum album, Kanye worked with movie score composer Jon Brion. This became a commercial success and it grossed over 2,4 million units sold in the US alone. It earned 8 Grammy nominations. In MTV s “All Eyes on Kanye West” in the same year, he addressed homophobia issues in the hip-hop culture by making a comparison between the civil rights of the African-Americans over the course of time and the gay rights in today s society. Kanye also shared his beliefs and experiences with the gay and black communities and stated that his cousin is gay and he would always love him, no matter what. By raising awareness in the black gay community, he also paved the way for better understanding, acknowledgement and acceptance of this community in the hip-hop culture. The controversial and outspoken artist managed to reshape and redefine the mainstream with his first two albums and his “introspective yet glossy rap” distinctive style (Rolling Stone).
Kanye released his third studio album entitled “Graduation” in 2007, on the same day as 50 Cent s album “Curtis”, it was certified double platinum and it featured Lil Wayne, Mos Def and T-Pain. On March 25th, 2007 he supported together with his father the World Water Day, by involving themselves in the rally “Walk for Water”. Kanye also provided the capital to help his father open the cafe Good Water Store in Lexington, Maryland. On November 2007, his mother unfortunately died of complications following an unsuccessful liposuction and abdominoplasty, at 58 years old. Devastated, Kanye dedicated to his late mother the songs “Hey Mama” and “Don t Stop Believin” performed during his “Glow in the Dark” world tour. In 2008 he spoke publicly for the first about her death, saying that it was like trying to walk with no arm and no leg. Former California governor Schwarzenegger passed the legislation “Donda West Law”, which stipulates that it is compulsory for patients looking to undergo plastic surgery to provide a medical clearance.
In 2008 he released his forth album “808s & Heartbreak”, in 2010 he released his fifth studio album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, in 2011 the collaborative studio album “Watch the Throne” together with Jay-Z and in 2012 the compilation album “Good Summer” with GOOD Music (Kanye is the head of this label). He is nowadays considered one of the greatest hip hop artists of all times, because his albums have changed the industry and his unique music is here to stay. His 2008 commercially successful album paved the stylistic way for breakthrough hip-hop artists like Drake, Kid Cudi, Casey Veggies and B.o.B., who admit that West is one of their biggest influence. In terms of personal life, after failed romantic relationships with fashion designer Alexis Phifer and top-model Amber Rose, West has a relationship with Kim Kardashian ever since April 2012 and in December 2012 the couple announced that they are expecting their first baby. The Louis Vuitton Don and superstar is also a flamboyant fashion designer, his latest and far improved women fashion line being presented in 2012 at Paris Fashion Week. He is one of the most stylish men in the US.
Kanye and Life Outside of the Music
In 2009 he also introduced his first shoe line, which was designed for Louis Vuitton. He also designed shoe lines for Bape and Zanotti and, in collaboration with Nike, the second version of Air Yeezys shoe line appeared in 2012. Kanye is also a versed businessman and he owns the company KW Foods LLC. He has opened 3 Fatburger restaurants in the area of Chicago so far and he plans to open another seven. Kanye founded in 2003 “The Kanye West Foundation” whose mission is to fight school dropout rates and to provide poor children and teens proper access to music education. He participated in many benefit concerts, such as for hurricanes Katrina and Sandy relief, for Live Earth together with the Police, in multiple fundraisings including for Iraq War veterans who struggle with debt and in community work for all his foundations. On February 2013, at a concert held in France, Kanye West announced he would release very soon his sixth studio album.
Kanye and Kim Kardashian
The love story between the hip-hop mogul and the curvy reality star Kim Kardashian seems like a fairy tale, according to relatives and close friends. He is head-over-heels in love with the mother of his first child, due in July, and he acts like a perfect gentleman, treating her like royalty. On March 2013, he flew in from Europe, where he is currently on tour, in order to surprise the “Keeeping up with the Kardashians” celebrity at the premiere of her first movie “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” in Atlanta, Georgia. Kim was totally shocked, especially since she has no idea that he was coming and the reunion was exactly what the couple needed, because they had not seen each other for 11 days, ever since she came to visit him in Paris. Kim admitted that her first pregnancy was not very easy and Kanye s precious support, attention and understanding means the world to her, because it helps her cope better with this “painful” and “difficult” time in her life. Kanye is very preoccupied with the health of his five-month pregnant girlfriend and he does not let her do anything that might put her or his unborn child at risk. After becoming ill on a flight to the US, Kim was advised by doctors to rest more and Kanye is there for her to make sure she follows their advice for the sake of their future family.
Kim and Kanye met almost 10 years ago, they have been friends for seven years and they have been dated for less than a year. Their beautiful romance also has the approval of Kim s family, who believe “Kimye” are the perfect couple. Kanye even made a guest appearance on “Keeping up with the Kardashians” to her mother s delight. The proud parents -to-be purchased in January 2013 a 10 000-square-foot spectacular mansion in a private gated community in Bel Air, California, for $11 million and which they plan to turn it into a full, Italian style dream home where they can live together, happily ever after. The major additions include a tricked-out baby nursery, a complete gym, a movie theater, a basketball court, an indoor as well as an outdoor pool, a makeup and hair salon, a bowling alley and also a complete studio for Kanye s future music projects. The couple s new neighbors include Jennifer Aniston and Joe Francis. “Kimye” have not made any wedding plans yet, because Kim is still married to Kris Humphries, who refuses to settle and whom she fears that he would ruin her pregnancy miracle. Once the divorce is finalized, they will get married because they feel true love for one another. Because Kanye is a true gentleman, he does not want to propose to Kim until she is legally divorced. The happy couple refused a $3 million foreign tabloid’s offer for the first pictures of their baby, because the privacy of their future family comes first and money can wait.
Kanye West owns a white Lamborghini Gallardo, worth $200,000, which he used on a sightseeing trip together with Kim to Paris in 2012, a black Lamborghini Aventador, worth a whopping $400,000 received as a gift for his 35th birthday from the reality star vixen, a Mercedes G-500, a Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren and an Aston Martin DB9. Kanye s estates include an elegant New York apartment, whose interior design is realised by the famous Italian decorator C. Silvestrin, a fabulous, minimalist-style 4,200-square-foot home in the Hollywood Hills, decorated by the same Silvestrin as well as a splendid, luxurious house in Beverly Hills, both homes being purchased in 2003.
Kanye and his Hobbies
West s favorite hobby in his spare time is basketball and his favorite holiday destinations include Hawaii, Italy and Miami. Kanye is currently one of the richest hip-hop artists in the world. His limited edition Nike sneakers sold for almost $100,000. His high-tech gadgets include a Porshe P9981 smartphone, a BlackBerry and the famous Dr. Dre headphones, a must-have accessory for every rapper. Kanye wears the golden bracelet from Daisy Jewellery in every concert and one of his distinctive features are his flat sunglasses from the Italian brand Retrosuperfuture. Kanye is also a kind-hearted and noble human being and he enjoys giving back to less fortunate people worldwide, to whom he donates millions of dollars and for whom he constantly raises funds. The charities and causes supported financially by Kanye include the Lunchbox Fund, which helps underprivileged children in South Africa, the non-profit organization the Art of Elysium, Doctors Without Borders and Dr. Donda West Foundation.
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