Kanye West: Snapshot

Kanye West
Date of Birth
June 08, 1977
Birth Place
Atlanta, Ga.
Kanye West is anything but a wallflower: he's spoken out against homophobia and materialism, and famously slammed White House inaction after Hurricane Katrina, saying, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

But at the end of the day, West's music speaks for itself. After bringing a soulful, distinctive sound to artists like Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, West won multiple Grammys for his rap debut, The College Dropout, and his follow-up, Late Registration.

In November 2007, tragedy struck when West's mother, Donda, passed away after undergoing a cosmetic procedure. He delivered an emotional tribute to her at the 2008 Grammy Awards, where he won his third Best Rap Album Grammy for Graduation. Following romances with Alexis Phifer and Amber Rose, West settled down in 2012 with Kim Kardashian, who gave birth to their first child, daughter North, in June 2013. Less than a year later, the pair wed in a lavish ceremony at the Forte di Belvedere in Florence on May 24, 2014.

Kanye West: Five Fun Facts

  1. The name Kanye means "the only one" in Swahili.
  2. After dropping out of college, Kanye West worked as a telemarketer, selling insurance to Montgomery Ward credit card holders. "I was way better than most of the people there," he told Playboy. "I could sit around and draw pictures, basically do other [things] while I was reading the teleprompter."
  3. At age 10, Kanye West spent a year in Nanjing, China, where his mother was a visiting professor.
  4. After the success of The College Dropout, Kanye West bought himself an 18th-century aquarium with about 30 koi fish in it. In the middle of the tank is a cherub-shaped gold fountain resting on a marble base.
  5. Kanye West told Entertainment Weekly that he likes finalizing a song's post-production "more than sex."

Kanye West: Biography


Kanye West

College Dropout

An English major at Chicago State University, where his mother, Donda, chairs the department, West quits school to pursue his music career full-time. "He said, 'Mom, I can do this, and I don't need to go to college, because I've had a professor in the house with me my whole life,'" Donda West tells Time. "I'm thinking, this boy is at it again. He always could twirl a word." (West's parents divorced when he was young.)


Kanye West

September 18

Jay-Z's Architect

After turning out hit singles for Common, Ludacris and Cam'Ron, among others, West gets his big break when Jay-Z asks him to produce several tracks on his chart-topping album The Blueprint.


Kanye West

October 23

Near Death Experience

On his way home from a marathon recording session in L.A., West crashes his Lexus after falling asleep at the wheel. While recovering in the hospital, West pens "Through the Wire," a song about the crash where he jokes about drinking "a Boost for breakfast, a Ensure for dizzert/Somebody ordered pancakes, I just sip the sizzurp." He'll record the song three weeks later with his jaw still wired shut. The finished track convinces Roc-A-Fella Records to let him move in front of the mic and push through approval for his first solo album. "Death," West tells Time, "is the best thing that can ever happen to a rapper. Almost dying isn't bad either."

Read More on Kanye West's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Nino Munoz/JBGPHOTO

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Sara Jaye/ABACA; Rich Schultz/AP; Simon Frederick/Getty

Edited by Julia Wang

Kanye West

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