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  • Born

    8 June 1977 (age 46)

  • Born In

    Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States

Ye (born Kanye Omari West on June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia), professionally known as Kanye West, is a Grammy award-winning American rapper, producer, singer, author, director, performance artist and fashion designer.

West began making beats and rapping in the early 90s in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, when he formed the rap group Go Getters with Chicago natives GLC and Really Doe. He later gained nationwide popularity through his work in New York, where he began producing tracks for artists such as Jay-Z, Twista, Mase, Talib Kweli and Alicia Keys.

West's style of production often utilizes pitched-up vocal samples, usually from soul songs, with his drums and instruments. The first major label song he produced was The Truth by Beanie Sigel, and his first major release featuring his trademark vocal sampling style was This Can’t Be Life, a track from Jay-Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. West said he sped up the drum beat of Dr. Dre’s Xxplosive to use as a replacement for his drums on This Can’t Be Life.

West has said that Wu-Tang Clan producer RZA influenced him in his style, and has said on numerous occasions that Wu-Tang rappers Ghostface Killah and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were some of his all-time favorites. Said Kanye West: “Wu-Tang? Me and my friends talk about this all the time… We think Wu-Tang had one of the biggest impacts as far as a movement. From slang to style of dress, skits, the samples. Similar to the style I use, RZA has been doing that.”

In 2004 (after being pushed aside by many record companies who felt he wasn't a marketable hip-hop artist), he managed to release his debut solo album, The College Dropout on Roc-A-Fella Records. The album received critical acclaim, including 10 Grammy nominations and the awards for Album of the Year and Best Rap Album, as well as defining the style for which West would become known: "wordplay" and heavy sampling of the 70s and tracks.

Not content to rest on his laurels, West invested two million dollars and hired a string orchestra to help with his latest effort, Late Registration (2005). West collaborated with Jon Brion to help develop the sound of the album, despite his lack of experience in hip hop production. The album received widespread acclaim like its predecessor and again claimed the Best Rap Album award at the Grammys.

West was no stranger to controversy, such as storming out at the 2004 American Music Awards after not receiving Best New Artist, but just days after the release of his second studio album, West began embroiled in a major controversy after going off-script during Hurricane Katrina broadcast, proclaiming "George Bush doesn't care about black people", which Bush claimed was "one the most disgusting moments of my presidency". In January 2006, West posed on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing a crown of thorns, once again attracting controversy.

For his third release, West was keen to produce songs that could be used more effectively when performing in arenas. For Graduation, the third and ultimately final entry into his 'Dropout Bear' series, West drew musical inspiration from The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. In the lead up to the album he became involved in a friendly rivalry with 50 Cent over which of the two artists' upcoming albums would sell more, as they were both released on the same day. West ultimately sold 957,000 copies in the first week of release, outselling Curtis by a large margin. The albums lead single "Stronger" sampled Daft Punk, and was West's third number one on Billboard 200. Many proclaim West's 'victory' over 50 Cent to be the 'death' of gangster rap as the dominant hip hop subgenre.

Following the death of his mother, Donda West, and the end of his engagement to long term partner Alexis Phifer, West abandoned his initial plan to release a fourth album entitled Good Ass Job, and shocked his fans by releasing 808s and Heartbreak, which was full of autotune singing, extensive use of the TR-808 drum machine, themes of love, loss and loneliness and very little rapping. It received slightly more mixed reviews than his previous efforts, but many critics cite 808s and Heartbreak as the catalyst for a new wave of rappers, most prominently Drake, due to its themes which were uncommon in mainstream hip-hop.

West's grief seemed to lead to a spiral out of control which culminated in him storming on stage at the 2009 VMAs to interrupt Taylor Swift's award acceptance speech to proclaim that Beyoncé deserved the award instead, in a move that is infamous in pop culture and was vilified by the entire world in the aftermath. West disappeared from the public eye following this, and his upcoming tour with Lady Gaga was cancelled. The disgraced West, who was described as a 'jackass' by President Obama, seemed to have much work to do to return to the his former glory, but he was about to embark on what some critics consider to be the best run of his career.

West holed up in Hawaii for a few months and worked tirelessly to produce what many consider to be his magnum opus. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West's fifth studio album, was released in November 2010 to rave reviews from critics, which solidified his comeback. In stark contrast to his previous effort, which featured a minimalist sound, Dark Fantasy adopts a maximalist philosophy and deals with themes of celebrity and excess. The record included the international hit All of the Lights, and Billboard hits Power, Monster, and Runaway, the latter of which accompanied a 35-minute film of the same name. During this time, West initiated the free music program G.O.O.D. Fridays through his website, offering a free download of previously unreleased songs each Friday of the week, a portion of which were included on the album. Dark Fantasy went on to go platinum in the United States, but its omission as a contender for Album of the Year at the 54th Grammy Awards was viewed as a "snub" by several media outlets.

Following a headlining set at Coachella 2011 that was described by The Hollywood Reporter as "one of greatest hip-hop sets of all time," West released the collaborative album Watch the Throne with Jay-Z. By employing a sales strategy that released the album digitally weeks before its physical counterpart, Watch the Throne became one of the few major label albums in the Internet age to avoid a leak. Niggas in Paris became the record's highest charting single, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2012, West released the compilation album Cruel Summer, a collection of tracks by artists from West's record label GOOD Music. Cruel Summer produced four singles, two of which charted within the top twenty of the Hot 100: Mercy and Clique. West also directed a film of the same name that premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival in custom pyramid-shaped screening pavilion featuring seven screens.

Sessions for West's sixth solo effort begin to take shape in early 2013 in his own personal loft's living room at a Paris hotel. Determined to "undermine the commercial," he once again brought together close collaborators and attempted to incorporate Chicago , , , and music. Primarily inspired by architecture, West's perfectionist tendencies led him to contact producer Rick Rubin fifteen days shy of its due date to strip down the record's sound in favor of a more minimalist approach. Initial promotion of his sixth album included worldwide video projections of the album's music and live television performances.

Yeezus, West's sixth album, was released June 18, 2013 to rave reviews from critics. It became the rapper's sixth consecutive number one debut. Def Jam issued "Black Skinhead" to radio in July 2013 as the album's lead single. On September 6, 2013, Kanye West announced he would be headlining his first solo tour in five years, to support Yeezus, with fellow American rapper Kendrick Lamar, accompanying him along the way.

In November 2013, West stated that he was working on and recording his next studio album. The album was to be produced by Rick Rubin and Q-Tip.. Kanye released a single entitled "Only One", on December 31, 2014 featuring Paul McCartney, as well as collaborating with McCartney on the Rihanna track " FourFiveSeconds", released in January 2015. West appeared on the SNL 40th Anniversary Special on February 15th 2015 to debut a new song Wolves, featuring Sia Furler and Vic Mensa. Another single, entitled "All Day" was released on March 2, 2015, again featuring McCartney as well as Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom. In June of the same year, Kanye headlined the Glastonbury Festival in the UK, which garnered much outrage including a petition with 135,000 signatures against his appearance, leading to West declaring he was "the greatest living rock star on the planet" towards the end of his set, and the performance receiving a mixed reaction among fans and critics, due to its controversy. In September 2015, West performed {album artist kanye west]808s and Heartbreak in its entirety at the Hollywood Bowl over two nights, which received rave reviews a featured a 60 person orchestra, guests such as Kid Cudi and Mr Hudson, and over 70 dancers. West released "Facts" at the turn of the new year.

West had originally stated that his upcoming album would be called 'So Help Me God' before changing the title to 'SWISH' and announcing that it would be released on February 11th. In January 2016 he released "Real Friends" and "No More Parties in LA", featuring Kendrick Lamar. As well as renaming the album once again to "Waves", West became involved in several twitter controversies in the lead up to the album, including with rapper Wiz Khalifa after he suggested that West had stolen the idea of the wave from other artists and seemingly dissed Kim Kardashian, which later turned out to be a misunderstanding over the use of "KK". West again changed the name of the album just days before it's release, this time to "{album artist=kanye west]The Life of Pablo", and debuted it at Madison Square Garden on February 11, but delayed it's release for a few days. On February 14, West released the album are a performance on SNL. West initially claimed the album was to be a Tidal exclusive, but it was later released on other streaming platforms, although it is yet to receive a physical release. West continued to tinker with the mixing and production of the album even after it was released, and it was updated several times, including the final song "Saint Pablo" in June 2016. West had also made public his plans to release an album in the summer of 2016, entitled "Turbo Grafx 16", based on the 1990s games console, which never surfaced, although he did release a single thought to be from the upcoming G.O.O.D. Music album "Cruel Winter", called Champions. In the same month, a video for "Famous" was released, including nude wax figures of celebrities such as West, Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Donald Trump, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Bill Cosby and George W. Bush.

In August 2016, West embarked on the ambitious Saint Pablo Tour, which included a mobile stage suspended from the ceiling. After the violent robbery of Kim's jewellery in Paris in October, West had to end a show early and postpone shows following it. In the following performances, West cancelled shows early and went on long winded rants against fellow artists such as Jay Z and Beyoncé among others, as well as making controversial political statements including implying his support for Donald Trump. On November 21st 2016, West cancelled the rest of the tour and was hospitalised due to sleep deprivation and extreme dehydration. Following this, West disappeared from social media, and only resurfaced 11 months later with a series of tweets which included many philosophical thoughts and the announcements two albums in June 2018, a solo album which would include 7 tracks on June 1, and a collaboration with Kid Cudi to be released on June 8.

On August 29th, 2021, Kanye released his 10th highly anticipated studio release Donda via GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings after a series of three listening parties.

Personal life:
West was born in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was three years old (as mentioned in Hey Mama) his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother to Chicago, Illinois. His father, Ray West, was a former Black Panther; one of the first black photojournalists at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and is now a Christian counselor. Kanye’s late mother, Dr. Donda West, worked as a Professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as Kanye’s manager. He was later raised in an upper middle class background, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois after living in Chicago.

After attending The American Academy of Art, a Chicago art school, West attended Chicago State University but eventually dropped out due to poor grades and to continue working on his music career. While attending school, West produced for local artists, including on rapper Grav’s debut album Down to Earth. He later gained fame by producing hit singles for major hip hop/R&B artists, including Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Cam’ron, Paul Wall, Common, Mobb Deep, Jermaine Dupri, Scarface, The Game, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson and John Legend among others. He also “ghost-produced” for his once mentor Deric Angelettie according to his song Last Call and the credits of NasPoppa Was a Playa.

West was married to Kim Kardashian. Together they had four children: daughters named North (*2013) and Chicago (*2018); and sons named Saint (*2015) and Psalm (*2019). In 2021, Kardashian filed for divorce.

In 2020, West launched an unsuccessful independent presidential campaign that primarily advocated for a consistent life ethic. In 2022, he faced backlash and lost a number of sponsors and partnerships—including his collaborations with Adidas, Gap, and Balenciaga—after making antisemitic statements.

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