Kanye Omari West (pronounced /'k?nje?/) (born June 8, 1977 in Atlanta,
Georgia) is an American record producer and rapper from Chicago,
Previously best known for producing hit singles for Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, and
Ludacris, West himself worked on a solo album for a long period of time,
having the release pushed back time and time again. 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 from
the suburbs of Chicago, not a former 'street hustler' or even one that wears
the orthodox hip-hop apparel. A car crash on October 23, 2002 left his jaw
fractured in three places. With his mouth still wired shut and only weeks
after having an encounter with death, Kanye West began recording "Through
The Wire," reliving his near-fatal accident. "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.
Kanye West also has his own clothing line - "Pastel Clothing" ,
and his own record label - "GOOD Music" (an acronym for Getting
Out Our Dreams), under which John Legend's platinum selling debut album
Get Lifted has been released, along with Common's latest album - "Be".
Other artists on his label include GLC, Consequence, and Farnsworth Bentley.
On August 30th, 2005, Kanye West released his second album Late Registration. "Diamonds
(From Sierra Leone)" (which contained samples from Shirley Bassey's "Diamonds
Are Forever") and "Gold Digger", were the first two singles
from Late Registration, the album sold over 904,000 in its first week.
West announced that his 3rd and 4th albums will be titled "Graduation" and "A
Good Ass Job", respectively.
In 2005, Kanye West received ten Grammy Award nominations, making him
the most nominated artist of 2005. He received two nominations in the Album
of the Year category, one for The College Dropout, and one for his work
on Alicia Keys' album The Diary of Alicia Keys. 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.
Afterwards, he strongly criticized the music industry as he only won 3
of the 10 awards, and he felt he deserved all of them.
At the 47th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2005, Kanye
won Best Rap Album for his album The College Dropout and Best Rap Song
for his single "Jesus Walks".
In 2004, Kanye appeared on MTV's prank show, Punk'd. Ashton Kutcher tricked
Kanye into thinking that his music video shoot for the song "Jesus
Walks" was censored by the Los Angeles Film Commission due to a "rule" about
filming on Sundays without a permit. To the audience's amusement, Kanye
stole back the music video footage from them and then jumped into his van
for his safety until Ashton Kutcher stopped the van.
Kanye has collaborated with numerous artists including rapper Twista,
on songs such as "Overnight Celebrity" and "Slow Jamz" (also
featuring Jamie Foxx) - which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles
Chart. Kanye also features on Brandy's single, "Talk About Our Love".
Some of the many other artists he has worked with include Jay-Z, Talib
Kweli, Dilated Peoples, Mariah Carey and John Legend. Kayne West is also
credited with revitalizing and bringing new life into the careers of such
rappers as Common and Twista.
On September 8, 2005, in a live-via-satellite concert for the NFL season
opener between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots, West performed "Heard
'Em Say." West was lustily booed by the crowd at Foxboro stadium,
almost certainly as a response to his controversial statements about George
W. Bush following Hurricane Katrina. However his September 9 performance
of "Jesus Walks" on the Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for
the Gulf Coast nationwide telethon for Kartrina relief went off without
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 to destroy African-American communities
and halt the civil rights movement. He also criticised politicians for "riding
home in their Benzs and Bentleys while poor Africans starve".
In a 2005 MTV interview, West criticised the hip-hop community over the
discrimination and epithets directed toward homosexuals, "Not just
hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I [wanted to just] come on
TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, 'Yo, stop it.'" The
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation recently recognized West for
these comments, and for the tolerant views that he models.
On September 2, 2005, during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief
on NBC, Kanye West deviated from the prepared script and claimed that the
National Guardsmen dispatched to New Orleans were under orders to shoot
looters, criticizing the government's response to the crisis and alleging
racism in the media. West stated, "I hate the way they portray us
in the media - If you see a black family, it says they're looting, [If]
you see a white family, it says they're looking for food." While allowing
that "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," West declared
that government authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on aid
to the Gulf Coast. He even said that "They've given them permission
to go down and shoot us.". West concluded his remarks with, "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 censored by the network when the concert was re-broadcast on the
West Coast three hours later.