Abetted by his flamboyant personality, West quickly rose to stardom. His second album, Late Registration (2005), repeated the commercial success of his first—with a number of hit singles, including "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" and "Gold Digger"—and earned West three more Grammy Awards. He also gained attention for his widely quoted assertion that the federal government’s slow response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005 demonstrated that U.S. Pres. George W. Bush "doesn’t care about black people"—a comment that Bush later characterized as one of the worst moments of his presidency.
As his career as a performer took off, West continued to work as a producer, with credits including songs by such high-profile artists as Nas, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé. He also founded the record label GOOD Music. His third release, Graduation (2007), produced the hit singles "Good Life" and "Stronger" and garnered him four more Grammy Awards. In 2008 West released 808s and Heartbreak, an album that dwelled on feelings of personal loss and regret. Its sound differed radically from his previous releases, as West chose to sing (with the assistance of a vocal production tool called Auto-Tune) rather than rap his lyrics.
West spent much of late 2009 rehabilitating his image. He had rushed the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards, preempting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for best female video, to declare that “Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” Video footage of the incident quickly went viral on the Internet, and West found himself vilified in the media. A series of apologies, some of them appearing as a stream-of-consciousness narrative on West’s Twitter feed, soon followed.
The brashness that caused him such trouble in 2009 fueled a triumphant return to music the following year, with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a monumentally complex exploration of the nature of success and celebrity. With potent rhymes that were in equal parts boastful and self-effacing, instrumentation that ranged from tribal drums to soaring orchestral accompaniment, and a list of guest performers that included Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kid Cudi, and Chris Rock, the album represented some of West’s most ambitious work, and it was rewarded with a trio of Grammys. He followed it with Watch the Throne (2011), a Billboard chart-topping collaboration with Jay-Z that featured the Grammy-winning singles “Otis,” “Niggas in Paris,” and “No Church in the Wild.”
In 2012 West presented Cruel Summer, a compilation album featuring him and some of the artists signed to his GOOD Music label. A year later, on Yeezus (2013), West continued to explore the dark corners of his psyche, at times filtering his observations through the provocative lens of racial politics, as on “New Slaves.” In contrast to the extravagance of his previous solo efforts, the album found him rapping over jagged minimalist arrangements evocative of house and industrial music and embellished with spare samples of soul and dancehall vocalists. Its most successful single was “Bound 2,” in part because of its racy music video featuring West and his then girlfriend, the reality-television star Kim Kardashian. (The couple, who were frequently in the public eye, were married in 2014. In 2021 it was announced that they were divorcing.)
In February 2015 West, in conjunction with German apparel company Adidas, unveiled the first “season,” or collection, of his long-awaited fashion line, YEEZY. YEEZY Season 1 featured men’s and women’s streetwear, including oversized sweaters, military- and surplus-inspired jackets, sneakers, boots, and more.
West’s fashion work continued leading up to the release of his eighth studio album, The Life of Pablo (2016); in fact, he debuted tracks from the album at his showcase of YEEZY Season 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The gospel-tinged album further demonstrated West’s inventiveness as a producer, but critics found it disjointed. In addition, the work itself was somewhat overshadowed by the unconventional circumstances of its release; after making an initial version of the album available online, West continued to tinker with it in the studio, calling it a “living breathing changing creative expression.” The tour supporting the album was abruptly canceled in November 2016, and West was briefly hospitalized. West’s fifth fashion collection, YEEZY Season 5, was released at New York Fashion Week in February 2017.
West was born on June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia. After his parents divorced when he was three years old, he moved with his mother to Chicago, Illinois. His father, Ray West, is a former Black Panther and was one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ray later became a Christian counselor, and in 2006, opened the Good Water Store and Café in Lexington Park, Maryland, with startup capital from his son. West's mother, Donda C. West (née Williams), was a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as his manager.
West was raised in a middle-class environment, attending Polaris School for Individual Education in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois, after living in Chicago.At the age of 10, West moved with his mother to Nanjing, China, where she was teaching at Nanjing University as a Fulbright Scholar. According to his mother, West was the only foreigner in his class, but settled in well and quickly picked up the language, although he has since forgotten most of it.When asked about his grades in high school, West replied,
Kanye Omari West
June 8, 1977
​( m. 2014; div. 2022)
|Origin||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|