When Kanye West called himself the next Steve Jobs — on track to revolutionise “downtown, fashion, culture” and lead a company “worth billions of dollars” — no one was surprised.The musical superstar has earned a reputation for having the biggest ego in the world.
It’s not entirely undeserved either.
How did we get to this point?
Kanye Omari West was born in Atlanta, Georgia on June 8, 1977. His parents — Ray, an award-winning photographer and church counselor, and Donda, an English professor — divorced when he was three.
Donda raised Kanye on Chicago's South Side. She said her greatest parenting challenge was learning how to discipline him without killing his spirit.
'My parents required every one of us not just to do our best, but to be the best,' Donda wrote in her memoir, 'Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar.' 'If you don't set that bar high, you can't expect your children to excel.'
'Why not start a curriculum that teaches music production? Come on, get with the times. People are so behind. There's poetry classes, but why aren't there rap curriculums? It takes people like myself to stand up and say this is part of our culture, why not use it to educate.' --Kanye West told MTV, December, 2005
At Chicago State University, he began producing for local artists. He dropped out after one semester to pursue a music career.
Kanye mixed beats for Common, Jermaine Dupri, and Ludacris.
Documentary footage shows Kanye at work in the studio, and impressing his mentor Jay-Z with his freestyle. As Kanye exits the room, the cameraman asks Jay-Z what he thinks of the young producer.
'Ye West? Hot. Fire. Put my money on it,' Jay-Z laughs.
As an intern, Chris Anokute, senior vice-president of A&R at Island Def Jam Music Group, assisted on Jay-Z's 'Blueprint' album. In an interview with Hit Quarters, he recalls Kanye's frustration:
'Kanye West was coming into the office -- he would always stop by our side to pick up his producer checks because at the time he was a producer for Def Jam artists. No one was taking him serious as a rapper but he was relentless. He would play me demos in my 'cubicle' and tell me how one day he'd be the biggest artist in the business.'
Two weeks after signing with Roc-A-Fella Records, Kanye fell asleep at the wheel after a marathon recording session in L.A. He sustained minor injuries and a fractured jaw. During recovery, he wrote 'Through the Wire' and recorded it three weeks later with his jaw still wired shut.
The music video below shows Kanye in the hospital.
'It uses profanity, and it's shocking and controversial and f----- up and funny,' Kanye told Playboy about the single 'Gold Digger.' 'It's so perfect and out of the park.'
In a later interview with the TODAY Show, he grapples with Matt Lauer about offending President Bush.
Watch Lauer painfully pull an apology out of Kanye.
Jon Caramanica: Did you think differently about family after your mother passed?
'Yeah, because my mother was -- you know, I have family, but I was with my mother 80 per cent of the time. My mum was basically -- (pause)'
Was your family.
'Yeah, that's all I have to say about that.' --Kanye West told The New York Times, June, 2013
His mother's death inspired a new Kanye sound, as the '808s & Heartbreak' album spotlighted his singing. Kanye shrugged off the bad reviews, saying, 'When it came out, people used to be like, 'Man, I wish it had more rapping on it.' But I think the fact that I can't sing that well is what makes '808s' so special.'
'Creative output, you know, is just pain. I'm going to be cliché for a minute and say that great art comes from pain. But also I'd say a bigger statement than that is: Great art comes from great artists. There's a bunch of people that are hurt that still couldn't have made the album that was super-polarising and redefined the sound of radio.' --Kanye West told The New York Times, June, 2013
When Kanye debuted his clothing line at Paris Fashion Week in 2011, the reviews were abysmal. Scared of a repeat bashing in 2012, Kanye banned critics from his collection's showing.
'I sat down with a clothing guy that I won't mention...This guy, he questioned me before I left his office:, 'If you've done this, this, and this, why haven't you gone further in fashion?' And I say, 'I'm learning.'
'But ultimately, this guy that was talking to me doesn't make Christmas presents, meaning that nobody was asking for his (stuff) as a Christmas present. If you don't make Christmas presents, meaning making something that's so emotionally connected to people, don't talk to me.' --Kanye West told The New York Times, June, 2013
Meanwhile, in 2012, Kanye began dating one of the most famous women in the world, reality TV star Kim Kardashian. 'Kimye' are expecting their first child in July.
The 'Yeezus' album, slated to drop Tuesday, June 18, leaked online midday Friday. Earlier this week, Kanye gave his most outrageous interview yet to The New York Times, describing the album as minimalist and de-snobbed, and himself as the 'Michael Jordan of music.'
'(I knew) I was going to be a big star. At the time, they used to have the Virgin music (stores), and I would go there and just go up the escalator and say to myself, 'I'm soaking in these last moments of anonymity.' I knew I was going to make it this far; I knew that this was going to happen.' --Kanye West told The New York Times, June, 2013
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