Kanye Omari West
(pronounced "KAHN-yay") (born June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American
record producer and rapper based in Chicago, Illinois.
After attending a local art school and then Chicago State University, West
dropped out and began working on his music career. Even while attending school,
West produced for local acts. He gained some fame by producing hit singles for
major Hip-Hop/R&B artists, including Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, and Ludacris. West
himself worked on his solo album for a long period of time, having the release
pushed back on multiple occasions. Due to his appearance and overall style, West
struggled to find a way to get his own voice on record. Multiple record
companies put him aside due to the fact that West is not a former 'street
hustler', and does not wear the orthodox hip-hop apparel and would therefore not
be as marketable as an artist portraying the "typical image" of a rapper.
crash on October 23, 2002 left his jaw fractured in three places. With his mouth still wired shut and only
weeks after his accident, he recorded "Through The Wire". "Through The Wire",
which sampled Chaka Khan's classic track "Through The Fire", would eventually
become his lead single from The College Dropout, which was released on
Roc-a-Fella Records in February 2004. A later single from the album, "Jesus
Walks", would become a major success, and later a staple of his benefit
performances such as at the Live 8 concert, Philadelphia (with an
all-Japanese-girls string section), and gather him still further mainstream
exposure when it was aired frequently as the background music in trailers for
the 2005 film Jarhead.
On August 30th, 2005, Kanye West released his second album Late
Registration. The first two singles were "Diamonds (From Sierra Leone)"
(which contained samples from Shirley Bassey's "Diamonds Are Forever") and "Gold
Digger" featuring Jamie Foxx. The album went on to sell over 904,000 copies in
its first week. West announced that his 3rd and 4th albums will be titled
Graduation and A Good Ass Job, respectively.
West, holder of three Grammys, has collaborated with numerous artists, most
notably with rapper Twista on songs such as "Overnight Celebrity" and "Slow Jamz"
(also featuring Jamie Foxx) - the latter would reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100
Singles Chart, becoming the first #1 hit for all artists involved. Kanye also
features on Brandy's single, "Talk About Our Love". Others whom West has
collaborated with include Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Dilated Peoples, Mariah Carey,
Miri Ben-Ari (whose violin arrangements featured heavily on The College
Dropout), and John Legend (who also features on West's first album,
providing soulful background vocals). Kanye West is also credited with
revitalizing and bringing new life into the careers of such rappers as Common
On 2 July 2005 West appeared on the Philadelphia bill of Live 8, using the
global platform to refer to "man-made diseases placed in African communities",
expressing his belief that AIDS was created by the U.S. government to
exterminate Africans in Africa (see also OPV AIDS hypothesis). He made the
parallel between the government using AIDS to exterminate Africans and using
crack cocaine to destroy African-American communities and halt the civil rights
movement. He also criticized politicians for "riding home in their Benzs and
Bentleys while poor Africans starve".
On West's "Heard 'Em Say", he raps the following lyrics - "Before you ask me
to go get a job today/ Can I at least get a raise on the minimum wage/ And I
know the government administered AIDS", and on "Crack Music", Kanye raps "How we
stop the Black Panthers?/ Ronald Reagan cooked up an answer", and in the second
verse - "Who gave Saddam anthrax?/ George Bush got the answers."
On August 22, 2005 the MTV special "All Eyes on Kanye West" aired. West said
that the term "gay" is the exact opposite word of hip-hop to many. He said that
hip hop always focused on "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers,
but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people." He then reflected on
a personal experience. He said that he had ... "a turning point" when he
realized that his cousin was gay. He said, regarding this experience, "Yo, this
is my cousin. I love him and I've been discriminating against gays." He further
said that, "not just hip-hop but America just discriminates" against gay people.
He concluded by saying "... And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my
rappers, just tell my friends, 'Yo, stop it."'
On September 2, 2005, during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief
on NBC, Kanye West was a featured speaker. When he was presenting, West deviated
from the prepared script:
- "I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it
says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for
food.' And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because
most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a
hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to
watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling
my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and
just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So
anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way
America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow
as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already
realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another
way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!"
Mike Myers, whom Kanye was paired with to present, spoke next and continued
as normal by reading the script. Once it was Kanye's turn to speak again, he
simply said, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."
Although the camera quickly cut away, West's comments still reached the US
East Coast in the live news-feed, but were removed by the network when the
concert was re-broadcast on the West Coast three hours later.
GOOD Music & Pastelle Clothing
"GOOD Music" (an acronym for Getting Out Our Dreams), the record label
founded by Kanye West, has already released John Legend's platinum selling debut
album Get Lifted, along with Common's latest certified gold album - Be.
Other artists on the GOOD Music label include GLC, Consequence, and Farnsworth
Bentley. Kanye is in the process of working with Clint Saulsberry and Deuce Gang
after his Fall tour. Chicago producer Mano produced the smash single "Haterville""
for Kanye and artist GLC.
In September 2005, Kanye announced that he will release his Pastelle Clothing
line in spring 2006. He said of the decision, "Now that I have a Grammy under my
belt and [West's second album] Late Registration is finished, I am ready
to launch my clothing line next spring."
For a list of Kanye West's production credits, including sample
attributions, see Kanye West production discography.
- 2004: The College Dropout #2 US (2x Platinum), #12 UK, #49 MEX, #1
- 2005: Late Registration #1 US (2x Platinum), #2 UK
- 2006: Graduation
- TBD: A Good Ass Job
- 2005: Freshmen Adjustment #105 US , #45 UK (50,000)
- I'm Good
- Get Well Soon
- 2003: Kanye West presents: The Lost Tapes
- 2005: The Late Mixtape
||"Slow Jamz (featuring Twista and Jamie Foxx)"
||The College Dropout
||"Through the Wire"
||The College Dropout
||"All Falls Down" (feat. Syleena Johnson)
||The College Dropout
||The College Dropout
||"The New Workout Plan"
||The College Dropout
||"Diamonds from Sierra Leone"
||"Gold Digger" (feat. Jamie Foxx)
||"Heard 'Em Say" (feat. Adam Levine)
||"Touch the Sky" (feat. Lupe Fiasco)
In 2005, Kanye West received ten Grammy Award nominations, making him the
most nominated artist of 2005. At the 47th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony held on
February 13, 2005, Kanye won Best Rap Album for his album The College Dropout,
Best Rap Song for his single "Jesus Walks", and Best R&B Song for producing
Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name".
His 2005 Grammy nominations were:
- Album of the Year for The Diary Of Alicia Keys (as a producer)
- Album of the Year for The College Dropout
- Song of the Year for "Jesus Walks"
- Best New Artist
- Best R&B Song for "You Don't Know My Name" (as a songwriter)
- Best Rap Solo Performance for "Through The Wire"
- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "All Falls Down"
- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Slow Jamz"
- Best Rap Song for "Jesus Walks"
- Best Rap Album for The College Dropout
His work with pop icon Janet Jackson also earned him a nomination for her
single "I Want You", produced by West, which was nominated for Best Female R&B
After the awards ceremony, West criticized the music industry as he only won
3 of the 10 awards, and he felt he deserved all of them.