Early Love for Music
Kanye Omari West was born on June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Unlike many rappers of his generation, West came from a relatively well-off middle class background as his mother, Dr Donda C. West, was a university professor at Clarke Atlanta University and the Chair of the English department at Chicago State University. His father, Ray West, was a photojournalist, a pastor and currently runs a start up business, a café in Maryland, which was paid for by his son. From a young age, Kanye displayed an affinity for the arts, as he would write poetry and paint. He would write his first rap song at 13. West was a relatively good student as he got mostly As and Bs, and later attended Chicago State University, only to drop out at age 20 in order to pursue his career. His academic mother did not approve of the decision at first, but would later resign from her post and become his manager during his early musical career.
Becoming a Music Producer and Early Struggles as a Rapper
During the 1990s and early 2000s, West managed to become a successful music producer in the rap industry. In 2000, he became a producer for Rock-A-Fella Records and produced labels and crafted songs for a number of famous artists such as Jay-Z, Ludicrous and Janet Jackson. Despite his success, his real ambition was to become a rapper. Initially, music producers did not want to sign Kanye as a rapper because he refused to adopt the “gangster rapper” image, which was prominent at the time. In 2003, Kanye released his first studio album entitled The College Dropout, in which he talks about his journey as a musician and encourages people to pursue their dreams and not let society dictate their paths in life. The album received universal acclaim, and put West in the rapping map. West would then make headlines in 2005, for appearing in telethon benefitting victims of Hurricane Katrina, blurting out “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on live TV; this wouldn’t be the last time West made political headlines.
Mid-2000s: Mother’s Death and End of Engagement
The mid-2000s proved to be a hard time for West; in spite of rising to the top of the rap charts he would encounter a number of challenges in his personal life. In November 2007, West’s mother passed away while undergoing plastic surgery and months later he and his fiancé Alexis Phifer split up ending a 5-year relationship. His next album, 808s and Heartbreak reflected themes of sadness, loneliness and love. West would later cause controversy during the 2009 MTV Music Awards when Taylor Swift received award for best Female Video, but as she was giving her acceptance speech West went on stage and grabbed the microphone out of her hand and said that Beyoncé deserved the award. Understandably, the incident caused major controversy, and to this day Swift still holds resentment towards West. In a private conversation, then President Barack Obama discussed the incident and called West “a jerk”. West would later apologise for his actions and claimed that a recent personal tragedy, in particular his mother’s passing, was causing him to act out.
2010s: A Good Decade for West
In spite of controversies, West’s rise to the top was unstoppable. In 2011, he collaborated with long time rapper Jay-Z as they released the album Watch the Throne, which was positively received by audiences and critics. In 2012, he would start a relationship with media personality and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian. He then released his sixth studio album in 2013, called Yeezus and he subsequently went on the Yeezus Tour which was his first solo concert tour in five years. That same year, he and Kim announced that the latter was pregnant with their first child and they would then announce their engagement months later. They then got married in a private ceremony one year later in May 2014. In 2015, he collaborated with Rihanna and Sir Paul McCartney to release the single FourFiveSeconds.
Change in Philosophy
In 2018, West announced his support for President Donald Trump something that was met with hostility and criticism in the music world. In April of that year, he released the single Ye vs. The People featuring TI. In the song, West expresses his support for Trump while TI debates his West’s political stances. In October 2018, he would meet President Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, where he passionately expressed his love and support for the president. In 2019, he then stated that he had become religious and that he started attending a church service every Sunday. He then released a Christian hip hop album entitled Jesus is King and collaborated in the American gospel group Sunday Service Choir’s album Jesus is Born.
2020: The Ten-Day Presidential Run
In July 4, 2020 Kanye announced via Twitter that he would run in the upcoming presidential election, to which American entrepreneur Elon Musk said he endorsed his run. Kanye was vague about his run and did not provide a clear platform of his policies. He also did not indicate if he would run as a Republican or an independent, while he did seem to distance himself from Trump stating: "Trump is the closest president we've had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation.” But he later said that the country is a "big mess" now. Nevertheless, he also said that he would never compete directly against Trump, indicating that he would run as an independent candidate, which at that point wasn’t viable since most states closed their ballots for independent candidates months ago. Given the spontaneity of the announcement and the lack of any real planning, many have speculated that West’s presidential run was only meant to garner attention for an upcoming album. In July 14, Steve Kramer, a member of Kanye’s campaign team, said that the rapper bowed out of the presidential race having failed to gain backing in Florida.
Kanye West: The Outlandish Rapper With the 10-Day Presidential Run
Early Love for Music