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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.

A car 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 and Twista.

Political views

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."

Discography

For a list of Kanye West's production credits, including sample attributions, see Kanye West production discography.

Studio albums

  • 2004: The College Dropout #2 US (2x Platinum), #12 UK, #49 MEX, #1 CAN
  • 2005: Late Registration #1 US (2x Platinum), #2 UK

Upcoming albums

  • 2006: Graduation
  • TBD: A Good Ass Job

Compilations

  • 2005: Freshmen Adjustment #105 US , #45 UK (50,000)

Mixtapes

  • I'm Good
  • Get Well Soon
  • 2003: Kanye West presents: The Lost Tapes
  • 2005: The Late Mixtape

Singles

Year Title Album
2004 "Slow Jamz (featuring Twista and Jamie Foxx)" The College Dropout
2004 "Through the Wire" The College Dropout
2004 "All Falls Down" (feat. Syleena Johnson) The College Dropout
2004 "Jesus Walks" The College Dropout
2004 "The New Workout Plan" The College Dropout
2005 "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" Late Registration
2005 "Gold Digger" (feat. Jamie Foxx) Late Registration
2005 "Heard 'Em Say" (feat. Adam Levine) Late Registration
2005 "Touch the Sky" (feat. Lupe Fiasco) Late Registration

Awards

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 Vocal Performance.

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.


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