Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer.
West is among the most critically acclaimed musicians of the 21st century, with his music having spanned a broad range of styles, incorporating an eclectic range of influences including hip hop, soul, baroque pop, electro, indie rock, synth-pop, industrial, and gospel.
Outside of his music career, West’s success in the fashion industry has led to him being recognized as one of the most influential pop culture figures of his generation.
- Full name: Kanye Omari West
- Born: 8 June 1977 (age 42 years), Atlanta, Georgia, United States
- Profession: American rapper, singer, songwriter
- Height: 1.73 m
- Children: North West, Psalm West, Saint West, Chicago West
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About Kanye West
Kanye was born on 8 June 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. After his parents divorced when he was three years old, he moved with his mother to Chicago, Illinois.
His father, Ray West, is a former Black Panther and was one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ray West was later a Christian counselor, and in 2006, opened the Good Water Store and Café in Lexington Park, Maryland with startup capital from his son.
West’s mother, Dr. Donda C. (Williams) West, was a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University, before retiring to serve as his manager.
West was raised in a middle-class background, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois, after living in Chicago.
At the age of 10, West moved with his mother to Nanjing, China, where she was teaching at Nanjing University as part of an exchange program.
According to his mother, West was the only foreigner in his class, but settled in well and quickly picked up the language, although he has since forgotten most of it.
When asked about his grades in high school, West replied, “I got A’s and B’s. And I’m not even frontin’.”
West demonstrated an affinity for the arts at an early age; he began writing poetry when he was five years old.
His mother recalled that she first took notice of West’s passion for drawing and music when he was in the third grade.
West started rapping in the third grade and began making musical compositions in the seventh grade, eventually selling them to other artists.
At age thirteen, West wrote a rap song called “Green Eggs and Ham” and persuaded his mother to pay for time in a recording studio.
Accompanying him to the studio and despite discovering it being “a little basement studio” where a microphone hung from the ceiling by a wire clothes hanger, West’s mother nonetheless supported and encouraged him.
West crossed paths with producer/DJ No I.D., with whom he quickly formed a close friendship. No I.D. soon became West’s mentor, and it was from him that West learned how to sample and program beats after he received his first sampler at age 15.
After graduating from high school, West received a scholarship to attend Chicago’s American Academy of Art in 1997 and began taking painting classes, but shortly after transferred to Chicago State University to study English.
He soon realized that his busy class schedule was detrimental to his musical work, and at 20 he dropped out of college to pursue his musical dreams.
This action greatly displeased his mother, who was also a professor at the university. She later commented, “It was drummed into my head that college is the ticket to a good life… but some career goals don’t require college.
For Kanye to make an album called College Dropout it was more about having the guts to embrace who you are, rather than following the path society has carved out for you.”
West was first known as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records in the early 2000s, producing singles for several mainstream artists. Intent on pursuing a solo career as a rapper, West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004 to critical and commercial success, and founded the record label GOOD Music.
He experimented with a variety of musical genres on subsequent acclaimed studio albums, including Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007), and the polarizing but influential 808s & Heartbreak (2008).
His fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) became the most acclaimed album of his career and was hailed by several critics as the best album of the decade.
He succeeded the album with the experimental and sonically abrasive work Yeezus (2013). He has since released The Life of Pablo (2016), Ye (2018), and Jesus Is King (2019), as well as the full-length collaborations Watch the Throne (2011) and Kids See Ghosts (2018) with Jay-Z and Kid Cudi, respectively.
West’s outspoken views and life outside of music have received significant media attention. He has been a frequent source of controversy for his conduct at award shows, on social media, and in other public settings, as well as for his comments on the music and fashion industries, U.S. politics, and race.
His Christian faith, as well as his marriage to television personality Kim Kardashian, have also been a source of substantial media attention.
As a fashion designer, he has collaborated with Nike, Louis Vuitton, and A.P.C. on both clothing and footwear, and have most prominently resulted in the Yeezy collaboration with Adidas beginning in 2013. He is the founder and head of the creative content company DONDA.
West is one of the world’s best-selling music artists with over 100 million records sold worldwide. He has won a total of 21 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time.
Among West’s other awards include the Chicago Chapter’s Recording Academy Honor, the Billboard Artist Achievement Award, a joint-record three Brit Awards for Best International Male Solo Artist and the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
Three of his albums have been included and ranked on Rolling Stone’s 2012 update of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and he is the tied-holder for the most albums topping the annual Pazz & Jop critic poll with four. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005 and 2015.