After gaining fame for producing songs for hip hop stars like Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Jermaine Dupri, American music producer and rapper Kanye West was shot to stardom with his multi-platinum-selling debut album “The College Dropout” (2004). The album made him a 10-time Grammy nominated star in 2005 and ended up winning three honors, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song (“Jesus Walks”). In addition to Grammy awards, West also took home three BET Awards, three Source Awards, a Billboard Award, a World Music Award, a NAACP Image Award, a Mobo Award and a Vibe Award for his work in the album. The rapper furthered cemented his star status with his second album, the triple-platinum “Late Registration” (2005). Spawning hip hop hits songs like “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” and “Gold Digger,” the album received eight Grammy nominations and West won three Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song. He also netted a Soul Train Music Award, a World Music Award and two Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards. West's third album, “Graduation,” hit the music stores in September 2007 and has since gone double platinum. Some singles released from the album include “Stronger,” “Good Life” and “Can't Tell Me Nothing.”
West also runs his own record label, GOOD Music, which stands for Getting Out Our Dreams, a subsidiary of Geffen. West's mascot and trademark is a teddy bear, which has appeared on the covers of his three albums and the single cover for his 2007 song, “Stronger.” West is set to release a book called “Thank You and You’re Welcome” in the beginning of 2008.
Apart from a series of controversies he created during 2006, West e attacked rap rival Beanie Sigel after accusing him of being homosexual and urged him to come out of the closet. A month later, West incensed a renowned London club owner after he refused to pay his bill.
As for his romantic life, West, who was named Stuff magazine's “Style Icon of the Year” in 2005, proposed his long-time girlfriend Alexis Rainey in May 2007.
The Louis Vuitton Don
Childhood and Family:
Kanye Omari West was born on June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived with both of his parents until they divorced when he was 3. An only child, he went on to live with his mother, Dr. Donda West, who was the Chairman of the English Department at Chicago State University and later became her son's personal manager. Kanye's father, Ray West, is an ex-Black Panther who served as one of the first black photojournalist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and currently is a Christian counselor.
Kanye West, who is known by the nicknames “Ye,” “The Louis Vuitton Don” and “Konman,” grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood and was educated at Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois. After enrolling at the prestigious The American Academy of Art in Chicago, he attended Chicago State University but quit because of inadequate grades and to further his musical career.
On November 10, 2007, his mother passed away due to complications from cosmetic surgery.
15-year-old Kanye West met budding producer NO I.D., his soon-to-be mentor and close friend, while attending high school. At the time, NO I.D. was building a reputation for himself while working with Chicago native/modern day hip-hop star Common. West was learning the tricks of the music producer trade in NO I.D.'s basement studio when he began perfecting his talent as a budding producer. First producing for local artists, the future hip hop star landed his first break in 1998 after Jermaine Dupri purchased a beat from him for his “Life in 1472” album. Soon after, West became a popular name in the hip hop community by producing hit singles for such major hip hop/R&B artists as Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Janet Jackson, Paul Wall, Talib Kweli, Common, Scarface, Mobb Deep, The Game, Alicia Keys and John Legend.
In 2001, West gained a significant boost to his career when he teamed up with Jay-Z for the critically-acclaimed album “The Blueprint,” which featured West's lead single “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “Takeover.” Although the album propelled West to fame, he had a difficult time scoring a record contract. His luck changed the following year when Roc-A-Fella Records signed him as their artist after the co-founder of Damon Dash heard a demo tape of West's solo songs.
After some delays following a 2002 car accident and a hectic schedule, West’s eagerly anticipated debut album, “The College Dropout,” was released on Roc-A-Fella Records on February 10, 2004. The album reached No. 2 on the U.S album charts and went on to earn triple platinum certification from RIAA. It sold over 4 million copies worldwide. The first single, “Through the Wire,” peaked at No. 15 on the U.S. Hot 100 and became a No. 4 R&B hit and its video won West a 2004 Source for Video of The Year. The next single, “Slow Jamz,” which he performed with Twista, was a No. 1 hit on the U.S. Hot 100, the U.S. R&B and the U.S. Rap charts. It was the single “Jesus Walks,” however, that won West his first Grammy in 2005 for Best Rap Song, and its video nabbed a BET for Video of the Year and a MTV VMA's for Best Male Video. Other singles released from the album are “All Falls Down” (#2 U.S. Rap) and “The New Workout Plan” (# 60 U.S. Rap). West won his next Grammy for Best Rap Album, two more BET awards for Best New Artist and Best Hip Hop Artist, a Billboard for Best Rap Album, an NAACP Image for Outstanding New Artist, a World Music for Best New Male Artist, a Vibe for Best Rapper, a Mobo for Best Hip Hop Artist, Best Producer, Best Album, and Sources for Album Of The Year and Breakthrough Artist Of The Year. West also picked up a Grammy for Best R&B Song for co-writing the single “You Don't Know My Name” by Alicia Keys.
West's sophomore album, “Late Registration,” was released on August 30, 2005. The album brought the multi-faceted artist eight Grammy nominations and won three for Best Rap Song (“Diamonds from Sierra Leone”), Best Rap Solo Performance (“Gold Digger”) and Best Rap Album. The No. 1 hit song “Gold Digger,” featuring Jamie Foxx, also netted a Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop for Hot RAP Track and its video won a Soul Train Music for Best R&B-Soul Or Rap Music Video. West also picked up a World Music for Best Rap/Hip Hop Artist and a Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop for Top Rap Album. “Late Registration,” which also spawned the songs “Heard 'Em Say,” “Touch the Sky” and “Drive Slow” is certified triple platinum.
West made numerous headlines throughout 2006. In January, he created controversy with his appearance as Jesus wearing a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stone. He stated in Playboy later that same month that if a Bible were penned in the current day, he is well-known and important enough to be included in it. In November, West again earned a degree of notoriety when after “Touch the Sky” failed to win Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards, he went on stage as the award was being presented to Justice and Simian for “We Are Your Friends” and debated that he should have won the award instead. The incident was widely written about and several days later when supporting U2 at the Vertigo concert in Brisbane, Australia, West publicly apologized for his stunt. In December, West was involved in a legal court case after Robert “Evel” Knievel sued him for a trademark misdemeanor in West's video for “Touch the Sky.”
His third album, “Graduation,” was launched on September 11, 2007. The album's original release date was September 18, 2007, but he later changed it to the same release date as 50 Cent's album “Curtis.” 50 Cent responded by claiming that he would stop releasing solo albums if “Graduation” were to sell more records than his.
Vibe: Mixtape of the Year, “Can't Tell Me Nothing,” 2007
Mobo: Best Hip-Hop Act, 2007
Mobo: Best Video, “Stronger,” 2007
World Music: Best Rap/Hip Hop Artist, 2006
Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop: Hot RAP Track, “Gold Digger,” 2006
Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop: Top Rap Album, “Late Registration,” 2006
Soul Train Music: Best R&B-Soul Or Rap Music Video, “Gold Digger,” 2006
Grammy: Best Rap Album, “Late Registration,” 2006
Grammy: Best Rap Solo Performance, “Gold Digger,” 2006
Grammy: Best Rap Song, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone,” 2006
BET: Best Hip Hop Artist, 2005
BET: Video of the Year, “Jesus Walks,” 2005
Grammy: Best R&B Song, for co-writing Alicia Keys' “You Don't Know My Name,” 2005
Grammy: Best Rap Album, “College Dropout,” 2005
Grammy: Best Rap Song, “Jesus Walks,” 2005
MTV VMA's: Best Male Video, “Jesus Walks,” 2005
NAACP Image: Outstanding New Artist, 2005
Vibe: Best Rapper, 2005
BET: Best New Artist, 2004
BillBoard: Best Rap Album, 2004
Mobo: Best Hip Hop Artist, Best Producer, Best Album, 2004
Source: Album Of The Year, “College Dropout,” 2004
Source: Breakthrough Artist Of The Year, 2004
Source: Video Of The Year, “Thru the Wire,” 2004
World Music: Best New Male Artist, 2004