Legal name: Kanye Omari West
Kanye Omari West (/ˈkɑːnjeɪ/; born June 8, 1977) is an American rapper, record producer, fashion designer, head of the record label GOOD Music, and founder of creative content company DONDA. West is among the most acclaimed musicians of the 21st century, continuing to attract both praise and controversy for his outspoken persona.
Raised in Chicago, where he became involved in music as a child, West eventually dropped out of art school in the 1990s to pursue music. He first became known as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, producing hit singles for musical artists including Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, and Janet Jackson with a distinctive style of production that utilized high-pitched vocal samples from soul songs. Intent on pursuing his own career as a rapper, he released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004 to commercial and critical acclaim. His middle-class background and style deviated from the then-dominant "gangsta" persona in hip hop, and he would later embrace a variety of different styles and musical genres as other artists adopted his alternative aesthetic. He followed his debut with the baroque-inspired Late Registration in 2005, and the electronic-tinged Graduation in 2007. West abandoned rapping for singing on his emotive 2008 effort 808s & Heartbreak, and embraced maximalism on 2010s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Following several collaborations, he released his abrasive sixth album, Yeezus, in 2013.
West has collaborated with a range of figures in music, fashion, and the visual arts. His work as a fashion designer includes multiple collaborations with brands such Nike, Louis Vuitton, A.P.C., and Adidas. An outspoken celebrity, West has often been a source of controversy as a result of his outspoken appearances in public, including his pronouncement that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" during a live benefit broadcast for Hurricane Katrina relief, and his interruption of singer Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. He is married to American television personality Kim Kardashian.
West is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 21 million albums and 100 million digital downloads. He has won a total of 21 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time and the most Grammy-awarded artist of his age. Time named West one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005, 2011 and 2015. He has also been included in a number of Forbes annual lists. Three of his albums rank on Rolling Stone's 2012 "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list; two of his albums feature at #1 and #8 in Pitchfork Media's The 100 Best Albums of 2010–2014.