Style(s) music(aux) : Music

Nationality : United States


Kanye West is a rapper/producer. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived with both of his parents. When he was three years old his parents divorced, and he and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. Kanye’s mother, Dr. Donda West, worked as the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as Kanye’s manager. Unlike most rappers he came from an upper middle class background.

After attending The American Academy of Art, a Chicago art school, West attended Columbia College Chicago, but eventually dropped out in order to begin working on his music career. While attending school, West produced for local artists. He later gained fame by producing hit singles for major hip hop/R&B artists, including Jay-Z, Common, Alicia Keys, Lupe Fiasco, and John Legend.

Kanye’s sound was featured heavily on Jay-Z‘s critically-acclaimed album The Blueprint, released on September 11, 2001. His work was featured on the lead single “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and the diss record against Nas & Mobb Deep named “Takeover”.

West soon became a major name in hip hop production following the release of the album, but struggled to find a way to get a record deal. Jay-Z admitted that Roc-A-Fella was initially reluctant to support West as a rapper, claiming that he saw him as a producer first and foremost. Multiple record companies pushed him aside because he was not the stereotypical hip hop artist. Companies felt he was not as marketable as rappers that portray the “street image” that is prominent in hip hop.

West’s style of production often utilizes pitched-up vocal samples, usually from soul songs, with his own drums and instruments. The first major label song he produced featuring vocal samples was “This Can’t Be Life”, a track from Jay-Z’s Dynasty: Roc La Familia . Kanye admitted that Wu-Tang Clan producer RZA influenced him in his style.

On October 23, 2002, Kanye was involved in a car crash after falling asleep at the wheel while driving home from the recording studio. The crash left his jaw fractured in three places, and he barely survived.Although faced with many adversities and therapy, Kanye was inspired by life itself and what it now had to offer. The crash also provided inspiration for West’s first single, “Through the Wire”.

West’s debut album, The College Dropout, which was released on Roc-A-Fella Records in February 2004, and went on to receive critical acclaim. The album also defined the style for which West would become known, including wordplay and sampling.

On August 30, 2005, Kanye West released his second album Late Registration. Reviews were mostly favorable: “Late Registration is an undeniable triumph” (Rolling Stone). The record earned the number one spot on the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics poll of 2005. The first two singles from Late Registration were “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” (which features vocals from Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Gold Digger” featuring Jamie Foxx (which contains an interpolation of Ray Charles’s “I Got a Woman”) to sell over 904,000 copies in its first week, and earned him eight Grammy Award nominations including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for the song “Gold Digger”.

In January 2006, West again sparked controversy when he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in the image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns. Later that month, he suggested in Playboy that if a bible were written in the present day, he is famous and important enough to be included in it. “I throw up historical subjects in a way that makes kids want to learn about them”, West claimed. “[I’m] definitely in the history books already.”

Kanye West, who is about to release his third album “Graduation” is still busy producing tracks for other artists. He will for instance lend his production talent to Lil’ Wayne’s upcoming release “Tha Carter 3”. He’s also working on Cassie’s album.


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