Kanye Omari West, or better known simply as Kanye, is one of the iconic rappers of the current generation in hip-hop. His style has affected all areas of pop culture (notably his “Shutter Shades”). His rap features a lot of samples from other pieces of music all the way from techno (Stronger, a sample of Daft Punk) to classical (notably when he appeared with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007). Among all, he is an icon.Kanye West truely is one of the great artists of our generation.
Mr. West was born in the deep south: Atlanta, Georgia. His parents divorced at the age of 3, prompting his mother, Donda West, and himself to move out to Chicago, Illinois. Young Kanye grew up in a suburban middle-class environment, making good grades at Polaris High School. He went on to attend art schools at several institutions but dropped out so as to spend more time on his developing music career. West gained fame by producing many hits from famous artists back in the day to include Paul Wall, Jay-Z, Common and a host of other big name rappers.
His early career, generally defined as the time beforeCollege Dropout, his first major record, was influenced by major artists, but most importantly Jay-Z’sThe Blueprint.College Dropout‘s success propelled West into the the major leagues, with hitsinglessuch asJesus Walks,All Falls Down, andThrough the Wiretaking the charts by storm. After a recording session, West was driving home, fell asleep at the wheel, and hit another vehicle head on. Kanye Westalmost died, but thankfully merely his jaw and face were broken. His jaw was sewn shut, and hence the inspiration for the songThrough the Wire.
Late Registration, likeCollege Dropoutbefore it, was named the album of the year by critics. It was a huge success that took hip-hop back to an east coast, politically-active and socially-aware tone. West spoke out against homophobia in an MTV special All Eyes on Kanye West, calling it the civil-rights movement of today. Graduation, West’s third album, was challenged by envious rapper50 cent(although they both sold from Universal records) to see which rapper could sell the most. Kanye’s Graduation sold almost a million records in its first week while 50 Cent’s Curtis sold 691,000 copies.50 Centhad planned to go out of the music business if defeated, but declined after his loss.
On November 10, 2007, West’s mother Donda West died from complications in plastic surgery. Donda was a staunch supporter of her son, eventually leaving her job as the ChicagoState University English Chair to become Kanye’s manager. This did not go without reward, as Kanye loved his mother, took care of her financially, and eventually modeled his 4th studio album,808s and Heartbreak, in memory of her.808stopped the charts the week it was released on November 24, 2008.
Of course, then the most recent event featuring Mr. West. On September 13, 2009 Kanye ranted at the VMAs, stealing the stage from Taylor Swift and praising Beyonce’s video as “the best of all time”. Taylor Swift cries off stage, and Kanye later apologizes. The techno-hip-hop group LMFAO reported that West was drinking heavily that night, which was already assumed by many in the media due to his staggering.
Kanye West is an iconic figure of the 2000’s rap scene. He has worked to change rap to a more socially-sensitive genre, with many qeues from soul and blues. Mr. West will continue to be an icon of hip-hop into the next decade.