When you think about Kanye West, there are several different areas of his life that are well worth evaluating. As a musician, there is nobody in music that has had an impact like Kanye has. West’s talents extend not only to creating his own content, but he also possesses an outstanding ability to produce music and has worked with countless talented artists in helping them find their own sound.
It was announced in January, 2016, that Kanye West’s newest album Swish will be available on February 11th, 2016 (read more about it here). The album is set to be one of the biggest of 2016, and while we only have snippets of what to expect, it is sure to be a success both critically and financially.
If you step away from Kanye’s ability as a musician, then you are left with Kanye West the person. West has been no stranger to controversy, and has had several scandals that have led to a public perception that he may be a bit of a jackass. One of the most prominent examples was when he interrupted Taylor Swift on stage during the VMAs in 2009, which elicited scorn both from other celebrities, and the general public.
If you also want to step away from the scandals, then you’re left with a man who is married to Kim Kardashian. Arguably one of the most successful and prominent“power couples,” Kardashian and West have now started a family together.
There are a lot of elements that go into making Kanye West who he is, and they aren’t all great - but who he is, is one of the most interesting and successful artists of all time.
Here are 10 things you might not know about the controversial superstar.
10 He Has His Own Fashion Line
If you’re a fan of Kanye, then you are probably at least slightly aware of the artist's taste in fashion. Kanye has collaborated with several brands, including Nike, Louis Vuitton, Adidas and A.P.C. In order to extend his passion for fashion further, Kanye has come out with his own line of clothing, entitled “Yeezy Season.” Make sure you are willing to drop some serious coin though, because the collection does not come cheap. Items that are seemingly just basic (such as a black hoody from Adidas, but from the Yeezy line) sells for an outrageous $625. You can also track down a faux-fur-trimmed hooded bomber jacket for the very affordable price of $3,250!
9 He’s Been Producing Since 1996
One of the things that help make Kanye West such an outstanding musician, is his production ability. Before making it as a musician, it was producing music in the mid-90s that helped get his foot in the door with the music industry. The first breakthrough for Kanye came when a rapper, Grav, released his debut album in 1996 which included 8 songs that Kanye West had produced and been given credit for. Since 1996, Kanye has worked with some of the biggest names in music and helped with their production. Different projects, such as Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, were influential in West getting to show off his talent to the music world.
8 Southpark Parodies Him
For all of the talent that Kanye has, the man has made himself really open to criticism. Since he's known for being unable to poke fun at himself, the creators of South Park had their fun when they parodied him in an episode released in 2009. In the episode, the entire world understands a joke (about fishsticks), but much to West’s frustration, he is unable to understand why the joke is funny. The episode also pokes fun at his fiancé, Kardashian, claiming that she is a hobbit. A simple concept for an episode, but a great episode, and it also includes a great parody of his hit song “Heartless.” After Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMA award shows back in 2009, comedy central aired the episode four times in a row.
7 Most of The College Dropout Was Recorded At Home
When Kanye West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004, the world was blown away. The album had 5 different singles, all of which helped put Kanye on the map in a big way. Nathan Rabin, music critic for A.V. Club, praised Kanye for creating a “wonderful crossover albums that appeal to a huge audience without sacrificing a shred of integrity.” With such a success, it may be interesting to know that Kanye recorded most of the first album from his house. Fellow artist GLC and friend of Kanye described being around Kanye at the time of creating The College Dropout; “It was a two-bedroom apartment, he had the studio and his bedroom. It was cool because he would get up sometimes at like three in the morning and spit a verse or re-spit a verse.” Clearly you never know when genius is going to hit.
6 He Has Known Kim Kardashian Since 2004
When Kanye was first introduced to Kim Kardashian back in 2004, she was married to Damon Thomas. Since that time, both celebrities have had a few high profile relationships. This includes Kardashian dating Reggie Bush and being married to Kris Humphries, and Kanye being engaged to designer Alexis Phifer. Kanye and Kim's friendship continued, and when Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries crumbled in October 2011, it was finally Kanye’s time to shine. The first real announcement to the world was on March 6th, 2012 when Kim was seen at Kanye’s fashion show during Paris Fashion Week. While celebrity marriages rarely seem to be successful, at the very least you now know that they have been friends for over a decade!
5 Kanye’s First Album Got Leaked
Given the sheer amount of work that Kanye puts into not only performing, but producing the music that he creates, imagine the frustration when he realized his first album was leaked on the internet. The leak happened a few months before the release date, but it spurred the artist to just work even harder. Kanye went back and reworked at the album, stating “OK, I’m just going to make the album better. I’mma put strings on some sh–, have choirs come in. I’mma switch up verses. I’mma make the drums sound stronger." He went in and refined his whole album. It is clear that Kanye would not have had the success he has had, if he did not have the will power to continue to push his limits.
4 Kanye Started In A Hip-Hop Group
When you think about the talent of Kanye West, some of his best songs are ones where he is able to have an outstanding collaboration with another prominent artist. For the upcoming album Swish, Kendrick Lamar and Sia are only two of the names that are confirmed to appear. Kanye clearly works well with others (much to the chagrin of his public persona at times) and it’s interesting to know that when he was starting out in the industry, it was in a hip-hop group called the Go-Getters. The group consisted of Kanye, Timmy G, GLC and was produced by Arrowstar. While the group recorded an album back in 1999, it was only once Kanye blew up on his own that people really started to track down old recordings of the group.
3 Kim and Kanye Are Selling Their Bel Air Estate
This is interesting for a few reasons. First off, Kanye and Kim selling their unbelievable Bel Air estate for an estimated $20 million. The house was bought by the couple back in 2013, but needed extensive renovations (I’m sure they were TOTALLY necessary). The upgrades included adding a movie theater, a hair and makeup salon, a bowling alley, a gym, a basketball court and some pools (both indoor and outdoor). As a result, the couple has never actually lived in the house. I can’t imagine how amazing a home would be that is estimated at over $20 million, but I also cannot fathom not even living in the house. Kardashian explained that when they bought the house in Bel Air, they had yet to have a baby and their priorities are different now that they are a family.
2 Kanye’s Ring To Kim Cost Roughly $8 Million
There is no doubting that both Kim and Kanye are no stranger to the high life. Of course, if you have an unlimited amount of money of your disposal (as they seem to), you’re going to go over the top with big events like getting engaged. Kardashian’s wedding ring was a flawless cushion cut diamond. He worked with famed jeweler Lorraine Schwartz on the ring and it was estimated to cost Kanye between $7 and 8 million. The proposal was no small feat either, as Kanye had rented out the San Franciso Giant’s ballpark and organized fireworks as well as having the Jumbotron spell out the question. Not to mention he hired an orchestra to play the songs “Knock You Down” and Kardashian’s favorite song “Young And Beautiful.” It would have been at least $200,000 to rent the stadium and that’s only the start of where the costs come in.
1 Obama Called Kanye West A Jackass (Twice)
When you are the POTUS, there are a few things that you need to be careful of. One of them is making sure you don’t call someone famous a jackass, which Obama did in 2009.
It was clearly an off the cuff moment when someone asked Obama his thoughts on Kanye interrupting Swift at the award show, and he responded that Kanye was a jackass. This was not the last time Obama would stand by that opinion though. When asked in 2012 his thoughts on Kanye, Obama stated that “He is a jackass, but he’s talented” and that he prefers the music of Jay-Z and Beyonce.
When Kanye was first notified of the president’s comments back in 2009, he stated
"When Obama called me 'jackass' after the Taylor Swift incident, I thought that must have been speaking off the record. Obama has way more important stuff to worry about than my public perception...if he said that to relate to the room or lighten the room up and the whole mood, then I'd be more than happy to be the butt of all of his jokes if it in some way helps his overall mission... I'm a soldier of culture. I'm resilient. I'm sure I'll still beat him in basketball."
This is not the first time Kanye has had issues with the president. Kanye famously stated “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People” while on the air during an event to raise relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina. There is no telling who will be the next American president, but I bet you Kanye will have an opinion about it!