Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Kanye West


   Kanye Omari West born June 8, 1977 is an American rapper, singer, and record producer. West first rose to fame as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, where he eventually achieved recognition for his work on Jay-Z's album The Blueprint, as well as hit singles for musical artists including Alicia Keys, Ludacris, and Janet Jackson. His style of production originally used pitched-up vocal samples from soul songs incorporated with his own drums and instruments. However, subsequent productions saw him broadening his musical palette and expressing influences encompassing '70s R&B, baroque pop, trip hop, arena rock, folk, alternative, electronica, synth-pop, and classical music.

   West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004, his second album Late Registration in 2005, his third album Graduation in 2007, his fourth album 808s & Heartbreak in 2008, and his fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. West released a collaborative album, Watch the Throne, with Jay-Z on August 8, 2011, which is the duo's first collaborative album. His five solo albums, all of which have gone platinum, have received numerous awards and critical acclaim. As of 2011, West has won a total of fourteen Grammy Awards. All albums have been very commercially successful, with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy becoming his fourth consecutive No.1 album in the U.S. upon release. West has had 5 songs exceed 3 million in digital sales as of July 2011, with "Gold Digger" selling 3,086,000, "Stronger" selling 4,402,000, "Heartless" selling 3,742,000, "E.T." selling over 4,000,000 and "Love Lockdown" selling over 3,000,000 placing him third in overall digital sales of the past decade. He has sold over 25 million digital songs in the United States placing him second for solo male artists on the list and sixth overall for best selling digital artists.

   West also runs his own record label GOOD Music, home to artists such as John Legend, Common and Kid Cudi. West's mascot and trademark is "Dropout Bear," a teddy bear which has appeared on the covers of three of his five albums as well as various single covers and music videos. ranked Kanye West No.8 on their "Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers" list. On May 16, 2008, Kanye West was crowned by MTV as the year's No.1 "Hottest MC in the Game." On December 17, 2010, Kanye West was voted as the MTV Man of the Year by MTV. Billboard ranked Kanye West No. 3 on their list of Top 10 Producers of the decade. West has also been included in the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world as well as being listed in a number of Forbes' annual lists.
   Kanye West was born in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived with his parents. When he was three years old, his parents divorced, and he and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. His father was Ray West, a former Black Panther who was one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and is now a Christian counselor. West's mother, Dr. Donda West, 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 West's manager. He was raised in a middle-class background, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois after living in Chicago. When asked about his grades in high school, West replied, "I got A's and B's. And I'm not even frontin'".

   West attended art classes at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and also enrolled at Chicago State University, but dropped out to focus on his music career. While attending school, West produced for local artists. He later gained fame by producing hit singles for major hip hop/R&B artists, including Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Cam'ron, Paul Wall, Common, Mobb Deep, Jermaine Dupri, Scarface, The Game, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, John Legend among others. He also "ghost-produced" for his mentor Deric Angelettie, according to his song "Last Call" and the credits of Nas' "Poppa Was a Playa".

   Kanye West's first career productions came on Chicago rapper Grav's 1996 debut album Down to Earth. West produced eight tracks on the album. While the album did not attract much attention and would be the only album released by Grav, West would soon be producing for higher profile artists. In 1998–1999 he produced for well-known artists such as Jermaine Dupri, Foxy Brown, Goodie Mob, and the group Harlem World.

   West got his big break in the year 2000, when he began to produce for artists on Roc-a-Fella Records. He produced the well-received Jay-Z song "This Can't Be Life" off of the album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. West would later state that to create the beat for "This Can't Be Life", he sped up the drum beat from Dr. Dre's song "Xxplosive".

   After producing for Jay-Z earlier, West’s sound was featured heavily on Jay-Z's critically acclaimed album The Blueprint, released September 11, 2001. His work was featured on the lead single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" and a diss track against Nas and Mobb Deep named "Takeover"; West has worked with Mobb Deep and Nas since the track's release.

   After meeting great commercial success and critical acclaim for his productions on The Blueprint, West became a sought after producer in the hip-hop industry, even before he became known as a rapper and solo artist. In the years 2002–2003 he would produce for artists such as Nas, Scarface, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, T.I., Ludacris, DMX, and Monica. He also continued producing for Roc-a-Fella Records artists and contribued four tracks to Jay-Z's follow up album to The Blueprint, The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse.

   After great successes as a producer, West now looked to pursue a career as a rapper and solo artist, but struggled to get a record deal. Chris Anokute, then A&R at Def Jam, said that when West regularly dropped by the office to pick up his producer checks he would play demos of solo material to Anokute in his cubicle and bemoan the fact that no one was taking him seriously as a rapper. Jay-Z admitted that Roc-A-Fella was initially reluctant to support West as a rapper, claiming that he saw him as a producer first and foremost. Multiple record companies felt he was not as marketable as rappers who portray the "street image" prominent in hip hop culture. Beginning his career as a rapper, Kanye West recorded the third verse on the song "The Bounce" off of Jay-Z's The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse, an album he produced for, from the same label he was signed to as a rapper.

   Kanye West and designer Alexis Phifer ended their 18-month engagement in 2008. The couple had been dating on and off since 2002, with West eventually proposing in August 2006. According to a friend, the couple's relationship had become increasingly strained, burdened by the sheer amount of time and attention West was dedicating to his current concert tour. "It's always sad when things like this end, and we remain friends," Phifer told People.

   West was also in a high profile on/off relationship with Amber Rose from 2008 until the summer of 2010.

   On November 10, 2007, West's mother, Donda West, died of complications from cosmetic surgery involving abdominoplasty and breast augmentation. TMZ reported that Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Andre Aboolian refused to do the surgery because Donda West had a health condition that placed her at risk for a heart attack. Aboolian referred her to an internist to investigate her cardiac issue. Donda never met with the doctor recommended by Aboolian and had the procedures performed by a third doctor, Jan Adams. She was 58 years old (1949–2007).

   Adams sent condolences to Donda West's family but declined to publicly discuss the procedure because of confidentiality. He had previously been under scrutiny by the medical board. Adams appeared on Larry King Live on November 20, 2007 but left before speaking. Two days later, he appeared again, with his attorney, stating he was there to "defend himself." He said that the recently released autopsy results "spoke for themselves". The final coroner's report January 10, 2008 concluded that Donda West died of "coronary artery disease and multiple post-operative factors due to or as a consequence of liposuction and mammoplasty."

   The funeral and burial for Donda West was held in Oklahoma City on November 20, 2007. West held his first concert following the funeral at The O2 in London on November 22. He dedicated a performance of "Hey Mama", as well as a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", to his mother, and did so on all other dates of his Glow in the Dark tour.

   At a December 2008 press conference in New Zealand, West spoke about his mother's death for the first time. "It was like losing an arm and a leg and trying to walk through that," he told reporters.

   California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passed the "Donda West Law," a legislation which makes it mandatory for patients to provide medical clearance for elective cosmetic surgery.

   In December 2006, Robert "Evel" Knievel sued West for trademark infringement in West's video for "Touch the Sky." Knievel took issue with a "sexually-charged video" in which West takes on the persona of "Evel Kanyevel" and attempts flying a rocket over a canyon. The suit filed in federal court claims infringement on his trademarked name and likeness. Knievel also claims the "vulgar and offensive" images depicted in the video damage his reputation. The suit seeks damages and to stop distribution of the video. West's attorneys argued that the music video amounted to satire and therefore was covered under the First Amendment. Just days before his death in November 2007, Knievel amicably settled the suit after being paid a visit from West, saying, "I thought he was a wonderful guy and quite a gentleman."

   On September 11, 2008, West and his road manager/bodyguard Don "Don C." Crowley were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and booked on charges of felony vandalism after an altercation with the paparazzi in which West and Crowley broke the photographers' cameras. West was later released from the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division station in Culver City on $20,000 bail bond. On September 26, 2008 the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said it would not file felony counts against West over the incident. Instead the case file was forwarded to the city attorney's office, which charged West with one count of misdemeanor vandalism, one count of grand theft and one count of battery and his manager with three counts of each on March 18, 2009. West's and Crowley's arraignment was delayed from an original date of April 14, 2009.

   West was arrested again on November 14, 2008 at the Hilton hotel near Gateshead after another scuffle involving a photographer outside the famous Tup Tup Palace nightclub in Newcastle Upon Tyne. He was later released "with no further action", according to a police spokesperson.



   The College Dropout is the debut album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released February 10, 2004, on Roc-A-Fella Records. It was recorded over a period of four years, beginning in 1999. Prior to the album's release, West had worked on rapper Jay-Z's The Blueprint (2001), which showcased his melodic and soulful style of hip hop production. Produced entirely by West, The College Dropout features musical contributions from Jay-Z, John Legend, Ervin "EP" Pope, Miri Ben-Ari, and Syleena Johnson. Diverging from the then-dominant gangster persona in hip hop, West's lyrics on the album concern themes of family, religion, self-consciousness, materialism, and personal struggles.

   The album debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 441,000 copies in its first week. It was a massive commercial success, producing five singles that achieved chart success. Upon its release, The College Dropout received general acclaim from music critics and earned West several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 47th Grammy Awards. It is West's best-selling album in the United States, with domestic sales of over 3.1 million copies and worldwide sales of over four million copies. Rolling Stone named it the tenth-best album of the 2000s decade. In 2006, the album was named by Time as one of the 100 best albums of all time.

   The College Dropout diverged from the then-dominant gangster persona in hip hop in favor of more diverse, topical proponents. Throughout the album, West touches on a number of different life-related issues, including organized religion, family, sexuality, excessive materialism, self-consciousness, minimum-wage labor, institutional prejudice, and personal struggles. Music journalist Kelefa Sanneh wrote, "Throughout the album Mr. West taunts everyone who didn't believe in him: teachers, record executives, police officers, even his former boss at the Gap". In an interview conducted just before the album's release, West commented, "My persona is that I'm the regular person. Just think about whatever you've been through in the past week, and I have a song about that on my album."

   The album debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 441,000 copies in its first week. By April 2004, it had sold in excess of 1 million copies in the United States. On June 30, 2004, the album was certified double platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America, following sales of 2 million copies. As of July 2009, The College Dropout is West's best-selling album in the United States, with domestic sales of over 3.1 million copies; it has sold over 4 million copies worldwide.


   Late Registration is the second studio album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released August 30, 2005, on Roc-A-Fella Records. Recording sessions for the album took place over the course of a year at various recording studios located in New York City and Hollywood. West collaborated with American record producer and composer Jon Brion to produce Late Registration, and the album features guest contributions from artists including Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, Jamie Foxx, Nas, Brandy, and Adam Levine of Maroon 5.

   The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 860,000 copies in its first week. It ultimately sold three million copies in the United States and spawned five singles that attained chart success. Upon its release, Late Registration received general acclaim from most music critics and earned West several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 48th Grammy Awards. It appeared at the top of several publications year-end lists of top albums. Initially naming it the best album of 2005, Rolling Stone ranked the album number 40 on its list of the best albums of the 2000s decade.

   On Late Registration, West abstained from his characteristic sped-up soul style and instead took a far more eclectic approach to production. Drawing inspiration from English trip hop band Portishead and collaborating with film score composer Jon Brion, the second opus blends West's primary soulful hip-hop production with Brion's elaborate chamber pop orchestration and experimentally delves into a wide array of different genres, including alto jazz, blues, rock, R&B, spoken word, funk, turntablism, western classical, and psychedelic soul. With the presence of Brion, who conducts a twenty-piece orchestra and plays instruments individually selected by West, the album is largely orchestral in nature, brandishing a euphony of string arrangements, piano chords, brass flecks, and horn riffs among many other symphonic instrumentation. The two also incorporated a myriad of foreign and vintage instruments not typical utilized in popular music, let alone hip hop, such as a celesta, harpsichord, Chamberlin, CS-80 analog synthesizer, Chinese bells and berimbau, vibraphones, and marimba. The end result is a more diverse, ornate, polished production that retains a multi-layered, cinematic texture with a particularly heightened emphasis on instrumental passages and extended codas. Music writers have also noted the genre-defying styles and sudden musical shifts present within the song structures as reminiscent of The Beatles during their experimental era. Rolling Stone described Late Registration as West claiming "the whole world of music as hip-hop turf" chronicling the album as "his mad quest to explode every cliché about hip-hop identity." Vibe concurred with this sentiment, stating, "West ambitiously attempts to depart from the street sensibilities of Dropout by giving Late Registration a shiny, quasi-alt-pop finish."

   The art direction and music packaging for Late Registration was done by Brooklyn graphic design studio Morning Breath, Inc. Similar to its predecessor, the album artwork of the second album carries an educational motif. Where The College Dropout was designed in a manner reminiscent of a high school yearbook, the images contained within the liner notes of Late Registration were taken in a university. The scenes were photographed by Sarah A. Friedman and Kris Yiengst while the styling was done by Charlene Roxborough and groomed by Ibn Jasper of Partos. West's vision for the style of the pictures was inspired by the works of American satirical painter John Currin, one of West's favorite artist. The liner notes also contain a banner that reads Tardus Subcriptio, which is Latin for Late Registration. The album artwork centers around "Dropout Bear", West's anthropomorphic teddy bear mascot, who is dressed in a collegian outfit. Entering the university on the front cover, Dropout wanders its hallways, sits in empty lecture halls, and reads multiple library books before departing from the institution the same way he came in on the back cover.


   Graduation is the third studio album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released September 11, 2007 on Roc-A-Fella Records. Recording sessions for the album took place during 2005 to 2007 at Chung King Studios and Sony Music Studios in New York City and at Chalice Studios and The Record Plant in Los Angeles. It was primarily produced by West and DJ Toomp, and features guest contributions from artists including Mos Def, Dwele, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, and Chris Martin of Coldplay. The album's cover artwork was designed by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

   Inspired by Irish rock band U2 and other musical groups to make more inspirational, anthemic hip hop music, West incorporated synthesizer sounds into his production and dabbled with electronic music, while sampling a wider spectrum of musical genres. Lyrically, Graduation is more introspective in comparison to its predecessors, as West dedicated much of the album towards analyzing himself and conveying his ambivalent outlook on his newfound fame. It continues the education theme of West's previous two studio albums, The College Dropout (2004) and Late Registration (2005).

   The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 957,000 copies in its first week. The coinciding release dates of Graduation and rapper 50 Cent's Curtis generated much publicity over the idea of a sales competition, resulting in record-breaking sales performances by both albums. Graduation received generally positive reviews from most music critics and earned West several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. The album has sold 2,166,000 copies in the US and has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

   With Graduation, West departed from the warm soul samples of The College Dropout and the lush chamber pop orchestration of Late Registration and moved towards a more atmospheric, rock-tinged, electronic soundscape. The musical evolution arose from him listening to musical genres encompassing European Britpop and Euro-disco, American alternative/indie rock, and his native Chicago house. Towards this end, Kanye retracted the live instrumentation that characterized his previous album and had it replaced with heavy, gothic synths. West injected distorted synth-riffs, rave stabs, house beats, electro-disco rhythms, and an array of modulated electronic sound effects into his hip hop production. Despite the dominant synthetic attributes, the emphasis on organic string arrangements that accentuated Late Registration remained a significant factor on Graduation. Also, similar to its predecessor, the album didn't relegate itself to simplistic looping techniques typical of conventional hip hop and instead continued to implement sudden musical shifts within its multi-layered song structures and express intricately composed introductions, bridges, and codas. Under the belief that his previous album had been too indulgent and poorly arranged, West fashioned Graduation to contain less ornate production, made the album completely devoid of skits, and sequenced it in such a way that it produced a more cohesive package.


   808s & Heartbreak is the fourth studio album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released November 24, 2008 on Roc-A-Fella Records in the United States. Recording sessions for the album took place at Glenwood Studios in Burbank, California and Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii during September to October 2008. It was primarily produced by West, No I.D., and Jeff Bhasker. Conceived in the wake of multiple events that affected and distressed him during the previous year, 808s & Heartbreak marked a major musical departure for Kanye West from his previous work, lyrically, vocally, and production-wise.

   Classified by West as a pop album, 808s & Heartbreak incorporates elements of synthpop, electronica, R&B, and electropop, while its tracks are primarily sung rather than rapped by West and contain lyrical themes such as love, loneliness, and heartache. The album also contains extensive use of the Auto-Tune voice processor and the Roland TR-808 drum machine, which was utilized and manipulated by West to produce a distorted, electronic sound. Approaching the album's production in a minimalist fashion, West intended to contravene the typical sound of hip hop beat and instead evoke a presence of tribal drums.

   The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 450,145 copies in its first week. It produced four singles, including the hit singles "Love Lockdown" and "Heartless". Despite having a divided reaction from music audiences towards West's stylistic change, 808s & Heartbreak received generally positive reviews from music critics upon its release. In 2009, Rolling Stone magazine named it the 63rd best album of the 2000s decade. 808s & Heartbreak has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and has sold 1.63 million copies in the United States.

   Following the release of his third studio album Graduation, the remainder of 2007 and the following year featured events that profoundly affected Kanye West. On November 10, 2007, West's mother Donda West died due to complications arising from cosmetic surgery involving a tummy tuck and breast reduction procedure. Months later, West and fiancée Alexis Phifer ended their engagement and their long-term on-off relationship, which had begun in 2002. At the same time, West struggled to adapt to his new found pop star status he had once striven to achieve, often becoming the subject of media scrutiny. The loss, loneliness and longing for companionship and a sense of normality served to inspire 808s & Heartbreak. West stated that "This album was therapeutic — it's lonely at the top." A photograph taken by Danny Clinch of West kissing his mother on the cheek was included in the album's booklet liner notes.

   West felt that the emotions he felt could not be fully expressed simply through rapping, saying that aside from the fact that rapping had limitations, there were "melodies that were in me — what was in me I couldn't stop." West went to classify 808s & Heartbreak as a pop album, asserting his disdain towards the contemporary backlash to the concept of pop music and expressed admiration for what some pop stars have accomplished in their careers. He later stated that he wishes to present the music as a new genre called "pop art", clarifying that he was well aware of the visual art movement of the same name and wished to present a musical equivalent. "Either call it 'pop' or 'pop art', either one I'm good with."


   My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the fifth studio album by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West, released November 22, 2010, on Roc-A-Fella Records. Recording sessions for the album took place primarily at Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii during 2009 to 2010. Production was handled by West and several other record producers, including Jeff Bhasker, RZA, No I.D., and Mike Dean, among others. Following a hiatus from his music career, West worked on the album through a communal development that involved him and various other musicians and producers contributing collectively to its music. Noted by music writers for its varied elements, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy incorporates musical components from West's previous works and features themes regarding excess and celebrity.

   The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 496,000 copies in its first week in the United States. It achieved respectable international charting and produced four singles that attained chart success, including US Billboard hits "Power", "Monster", "Runaway", and "All of the Lights". Upon its release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy received general acclaim from music critics, earning praise for its varied musical style, opulent production quality, and West's dichotomous themes. It was also named the best album of 2010 in numerous critics' polls and year-end lists. The album has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and, as of February 2012, has sold 1,254,000 copies in the United States.

   The album was conceived during West's self-imposed exile in Oahu, Hawaii, following a period of legal and public image controversy amid an overworked mental state at the time. West later said that his fatigue from overworking led to his controversial outburst at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, his disgust with its ensuing media response, and his hiatus from recording. Amid negative response to the incident, his scheduled tour with recording artist Lady Gaga in promotion of his previous album, 808s & Heartbreak, was cancelled on October 1, 2009, without reason.

   The album was formerly known as Good Ass Job and tentatively Dark Twisted Fantasy. GOOD Music artist Big Sean was the second to announce the title of the album as Good Ass Job. On July 24, 2010, on Kanye West's blog, a banner appeared reading "My Dark Twisted Fantasy Trailer". On July 28, 2010, West announced via his new official Twitter account that "The album is no longer called 'Good Ass Job' I'm bouncing a couple of titles around now." The official title, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was announced on October 5, 2010.

And now listen to some good hip hop:

No comments:

Post a Comment