Thursday, July 21, 2011

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. His five 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. 

Early life
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. 

Personal life
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 been straining, significantly influenced 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.
Mother's death
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 year 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.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne
In May 2010, West made an animated television guest appearance on Fox's animated television series The Cleveland Show (a spin-off of Family Guy) as the voice behind "Kenny West", a rival of Cleveland Brown's son. In his first episode he performed in a rap battle with Cleveland's son. The producers stated working with West was a very good experience and a reason they chose him was because they knew he was a fan of Family Guy. Kenny West re-appeared in the season 2 premiere of The Cleveland Show.
West spent the first half of 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii, working on his new album with the working title "Good Ass Job", later named My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, released on November 22, 2010.West has cited Maya Angelou, Gil Scott-Heron and Nina Simone as his musical inspirations for this album. Outside production is said to come from RZA, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. West also had Justin Vernon flown into his studio on Oahu after seemingly expressing interest in sampling one of Bon Iver's songs; Vernon proceeded to feature on a number of new tracks, including "Lost In The World," which features Vernon's vocal line from Woods.
On May 28, the Dwele-assisted first single from the album, entitled "Power", leaked to the Internet. On June 30, the track was officially released via iTunes. The upcoming music video was quoted as being "apocalyptic, in a very personal way" by the director Marco Brambilla.
On September 12, 2010, West performed a new song, "Runaway" featuring Pusha T, at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Shortly after the performance, Kanye revealed he was working on a 35 minute short film based around the song. The movie is said to be influenced by film noir and concerns a fallen phoenix whom Kanye falls in love with.On October 15, 2010, Kanye West was ranked 3rd in BET's "Top Ten Rappers of the 21st Century" list.
Watch the Throne, an upcoming collaborative studio album by West and Jay-Z, is scheduled to be released by Def Jam Recordings on August 2, 2011. It has been under production since August 2010 as part of West's GOOD Friday initiative of releasing new songs every Friday between August 20 and Christmas 2010. West said through a recent interview with MTV that the album is "going to be very dark and sexy, like couture hip hop. He appeared at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing the track "Lost in the World" from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. On January 6, 2011, Kanye announced via Twitter that the first official single from Watch the Throne would be a song called "H•A•M" produced by Lex Luger. The song was released on January 11, 2011. 

Business ventures
In August 2008, West revealed plans to open 10 Fatburger restaurants in the Chicago area; the first was set to open in September 2008 in Orland Park. The second followed in January 2009, while a third location is yet to be revealed, although the process is being finalized. His company, KW Foods LLC, bought the rights to the chain in Chicago.Additionally, West planned to launch his fashion career, and applied for internships with major European fashion houses. He was due to release his own clothing line called Past Tell in 2009. He also collaborated with Nike to release his own shoe, Air Yeezys.
On January 22, 2009, during Paris Fashion Week, West introduced his first shoe line designed for Louis Vuitton. The line was released in summer 2009.

West started the "Kanye West Foundation" in Chicago in 2003. On August 24, 2007, West hosted the inaugural benefit concert to launch the foundation's partnership with Strong American Schools. It is focused on helping Latino and African American children stay in school and to get a proper education through grade school, high school, and college. The foundation also helps children to stay in high school by finding a path through music. West has contributed over $500,000 to his foundation. The foundation has also been called the "Donda West Foundation".

Musical style and influences
At the start of his career, Kanye West's production style often used pitched-up vocal samples, usually from soul songs, with his own drums and instruments. His first major release featuring his trademark vocal sampling style was "This Can't Be Life", a track from Jay-Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. West said he sped up the drum beat of Dr. Dre's "Xxplosive" to use as a replacement for his drums on "This Can't Be Life".
West has said that Wu-Tang Clan producer RZA influenced him in his style, and has said on numerous occasions that Wu-Tang rappers Ghostface Killah and Ol' Dirty Bastard were some of his all-time favorites, "Wu-Tang? Me and my friends talk about this all the time... We think Wu-Tang had one of the biggest impacts as far as a movement. From slang to style of dress, skits, the samples. Similar to the production style I use, RZA has been doing that. RZA himself has spoken quite positively of the comparisons, stating in an interview for Rolling Stone, "All good. I got super respect for Kanye. He came up to me about a year or two ago. He gave me mad praising and blessings... For people to say Wu-Tang inspire Kanye, Kanye is one of the biggest artists in the world. That goes back to what we say: 'Wu-Tang is forever.' Kanye is going to inspire people to be like him. After hearing his work on The Blueprint, RZA claimed that a torch-passing had occurred between him and West, saying, "The shoes gotta be filled. If you ain't gonna do it, somebody else is gonna do it. That's how I feel about rap today.
While his use of sampling has lessened over time, West's production continues to feature distinctive and intricate string arrangements. This characteristic arose from him listening to the English trip hop group Portishead, whose 1998 live album Roseland NYC Live, with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra inspired him to incorporate string sections into his hip hop production. Though he was unable to afford live instruments beyond violin riffs provided by Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari around the time of his debut album, its subsequent commercial success allowed him to hire his very own eleven-piece string orchestra. For a time, West stood as the sole current pop star to tour with a string section.

Legal issues
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 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 has had several controversies throughout his career. On September 2, 2005, during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief on NBC, A Concert for Hurricane Relief, West was a featured speaker. When West was presenting alongside actor Mike Myers, he deviated from the prepared script. Myers spoke next and continued to read the script. Once it was West's turn to speak again, he said "George Bush doesn't care about black people." At this point, telethon producer Rick Kaplan cut off the microphone and then cut away to Chris Tucker, who was unaware of the cut for a few seconds. Still, West's comment reached much of the United States. Bush stated in an interview that the comment was "one of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency.
In January 2006, West again sparked controversy when he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in the image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.
In November, 2010, Kanye West, in a taped interview with Matt Lauer for the Today Show, West expressed regret for his criticism of Bush. "I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration, I didn't have the grounds to call him a racist," he told Lauer. "I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that we as human beings don't always choose the right words." The following day, Bush reacted to the apology in a live interview with Lauer saying he appreciated the rapper's remorse. "I'm not a hater," Bush said. "I don't hate Kanye West. I was talking about an environment in which people were willing to say things that hurt. Nobody wants to be called a racist if in your heart you believe in equality of races."
Reactions were mixed, but some felt that West had no need to apologize. "It was not the particulars of your words that mattered, it was the essence of a feeling of the insensitivity towards our communities that many of us have felt for far too long," noted Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons.

Award shows
In 2004, West had his first of a number of incidents involving music award events. At the American Music Awards of 2004, West stormed out of the auditorium after losing Best New Artist to country singer Gretchen Wilson. He later commented, "I felt like I was definitely robbed. I was the best new artist this year. After the 2006 Grammy nominations were released, West said he would "really have a problem" if he did not win the Album of the Year, saying, "I don't care what I do, I don't care how much I stunt – you can never take away from the amount of work I put into it. I don't want to hear all of that politically correct stuff. On November 2, 2006, when his "Touch the Sky" failed to win Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards, West went onto the stage as the award was being presented to Justice and Simian for "We Are Your Friends" and argued that he should have won the award instead. Hundreds of news outlets worldwide criticized the outburst. On November 7, 2006, West apologized for this outburst publicly during his performance as support act for U2 for their Vertigo concert in Brisbane. He later spoofed the incident in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live.
On September 9, 2007, West suggested that his race had to do with his being overlooked for opening the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) in favor of Britney Spears; he claimed, "Maybe my skin’s not right. West was performing at the event; that night, he lost all 5 awards that he was nominated for, including Best Male Artist and Video of the Year. After the show, he was visibly upset that he had lost at the VMAs two years in a row, stating that he would not come back to MTV ever again. He also appeared on several radio stations saying that when he made the song "Stronger" that it was his dream to open the VMAs with it. He has also stated that Spears has not had a hit in a long period of time and that MTV exploited her for ratings.

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