Even after being named Best Hip-Hop Artist at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Copenhagen, a fuming West storms on stage as the award for Best Video is being given to Parisian duo Justice vs. Simian. In a profanity-laced tirade, West says he should have won the prize for "Touch the Sky," because his video "cost a million dollars, Pamela Anderson was in it."
Rapper 50 Cent, who is releasing his Curtis album on the same day (Sept. 11) as West's Graduation album, challenges West. 50 Cent, 31, tells hip-hop Web site SOHH.com, "Let's raise the stakes. If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11...I won't put out anymore solo albums." Weeks later, West, 29, tells XXL magazine, "My biggest inspiration and biggest competition is Justin Timberlake...We push each other." Although the two rappers make peace, West widely outsells 50 Cent in first week sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan: 957,000 copies to 691,000 copies.
West's mother, Donda West, dies of heart disease after undergoing plastic surgery. Donda, 58, a retired professor and former chairwoman of the Chicago State University English department, was a tireless supporter of her son as he both earned success and stirred up controversy. "He came out of the womb looking like he had that attitude," Donda, who released her memoir Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar, told InStyle earlier this year.
West delivers an emotional tribute to his late mother at the 2008 Grammy Awards, performing "Hey Mama," a song from his second album. He also goes home with his third Best Rap Album Grammy for Graduation. During his acceptance speech, West says, "I know you wouldn't want me to stop and you want me to be the No. 1 artist in the world, and Mama, all I'm going to do is keep making you proud. We run this!"
West's fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak, tops the Billboard charts with 450,000 copies sold. The experimental disc in which West sings rather than raps using audio processors, receives mixed reviews. "What makes 808s & Heartbreak worthy of adulation and applause is that it's made by an artist who carries with him no other agenda but to make him and those who listen to him feel something," raves Vibe. The album is largely inspired by the death of West's mother and his break-up with fiancée Alexis Phifer.
During New York Fashion Week, West steps out with new squeeze, model Amber Rose. The couple makes a fashionable pair, wearing attention-grabbing ensembles around the world. "He'll pick out something and he'll be like 'Babe, just ... no.,'" she tells Elle. "I'm more electric pink and bright yellow. And Kanye's more like nude and bone."
During Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for best female video at the MTV VMAs, West jumps onstage and announces that "Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time." After celebs like Kelly Clarkson and even President Obama criticize his antics, West apologizes in a phone call to Swift.
West's latest album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy tops the Billboard 200 album charts in its first week and is heralded as a work of genius by critics. Rolling Stone says it's "his most maniacally inspired music yet…Nobody halfway sane could have made this album," while Spin praises it as "a blessing."
West joins forces with Jay-Z for their collaborative album Watch the Throne, which debuts at No. 1 on Billboard's 200 albums chart on the strength of their hit single "Otis." "They're hip-hop monarchs, and Watch the Throne, doesn't shrink from its own hype," Rolling Stone says of the record, which helps West lead the 2011 Grammys race with seven nominations. He takes home four awards, including best rap album for 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and best rap performance for "Otis" with Jay-Z.
In his new song "Theraflu," West sings about his feelings for Kim Kardashian, with whom he is reportedly dating. "I admit I fell in love with Kim ... 'Round the same time she fell in love with him," the rapper says, referring to Kardashian's soon-to-be ex Kris Humphries. "Kanye and I have been friends for years...You never know what the future holds," Kardashian coyly says of their relationship on the Today show.
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