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Kanye Omari West (/ˈkɑːnjeɪ/; born June 8, 1977) is an American rapper, record producer, and fashion designer. He has been influential in the 21st-century development of mainstream hip hop and popular music in general.
Born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, West was first known as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records in the early 2000s, producing singles for several mainstream artists. Intent on pursuing a solo career as a rapper, West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004 to critical and commercial success, and founded the record label GOOD Music. He experimented with a variety of musical genres on subsequent acclaimed studio albums, including Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007), and 808s & Heartbreak (2008). Drawing inspiration from maximalism and minimalism, respectively, West’s fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) and sixth album Yeezus (2013) were also critical successes. He went on to release The Life of Pablo (2016), Ye (2018), and Jesus Is King (2019). West’s discography also includes the full-length collaborations Watch the Throne (2011) and Kids See Ghosts (2018) with Jay-Z and Kid Cudi, respectively.
West’s outspoken views and life outside of music have received significant media attention. He has been a frequent source of controversy for his conduct at award shows, on social media, and in other public settings, as well as for his comments on the music and fashion industries, U.S. politics, and race. In 2020, he ran an unsuccessful independent presidential campaign that advocated for a consistent life ethic. […]
West is one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with more than 20 million albums and 140 million singles sold worldwide. He has won a total of 21 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time. Among his other awards include the Billboard Artist Achievement Award, a joint-record three Brit Awards for Best International Male Solo Artist and the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Six of his albums have been included on Rolling Stone’s 2020 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list; the same publication named him one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. West is the tied holder for the most albums (four) topping the annual Pazz & Jop critic poll. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005 and 2015. […]
You met Kanye West at British GQ’s Men Of The Year in 2007. What did you talk about?
I imagine I would just have said I loved what you do. With Kanye, I’m always so excited that he knows who I am and he’s come up. I’m a fan of his. I met him and ‘Jay Zed’, as we call him, at the Met Ball that Stella was being honoured at. I never know what to say. They were just saying ‘Hey man, you’re really a Knight!’ Their perspective on that, as Americans, as ex-Project guys – for them a knight is like Sir Lancelot. It’s always funny as I’m just Paul, one of the guys.Paul McCartney, from an interview with GQ Magazine, November 2012
Kanye West on writing with Paul McCartney, from Vulture:
I like the differences of views in our approach to music. I come in and I have all these lists of complaints, and he says, ‘Yo man, it’s all cool though. How ’bout we make a song.’ And we just make song after song after song. People think that our first two singles don’t have drums, but both of those are percussive instruments … I liked songs like that [‘FourFiveSeconds’] when I was growing up. The type of chord changes that Paul does, I don’t even understand them. And to be able to be involved with that and writing a song like that, it’s just like way next level. Meeting Paul McCartney is like meeting Ralph Lauren … And the whole cadence [of ‘FourFiveSeconds’] was trap. As soon as Paul starts playing, I start singing in trap. Fusion is the future. Period.Kanye West
Paul McCartney on writing with Kanye West, from Mirror.co.uk, May 1, 2015:
The Hey Jude singer spent two afternoons penning tracks with the “All Day” rapper and the pair adopted a similar process to that which the 72-year-old musician used when crafting songs with his late Beatles bandmate. He said: “When I wrote with John, he would sit down with a guitar. I would sit down. We’d ping-pong till we had a song. It was like that.“
Paul was initially reluctant to work with the “controversial” star so made Kanye agree that their efforts would be scrapped if he wasn’t entirely happy with them. He told The Sun newspaper: “My first thought was, ‘Woah, what am I going to get into here? He is amazingly talented but controversial and can make eccentric moves. I realised if it didn’t work out we’d just say so and shake hands and leave.“
The two men got on well as they exchanged a number of stories, and one of Paul’s memories sparked a song, Only One, in Kanye. He explained: “We sat around and talked an awful lot just to break the ice. One of the stories I told him was about how I happened to have written ‘Let It Be’. My mum came to me in a dream when she’d died years previously. I was in a bit of a state — it was the Sixties and I was overdoing it. In the dream she said, ‘Don’t worry it’s all going to be fine, just let it be.’ And I woke up and thought, ‘Woah’ and wrote the song. I told Kanye this and he said, ‘I’m going to write a song with my mum.’ So then I sat down at the piano.“
Paul McCartney, from BBC News, March 23, 2017:
[…] Now with Kanye, I had no idea what was going to happen because I knew it wasn’t going to be two acoustic guitars opposite each other. So I thought, ‘Well, here goes nothing’.
The one provision I said to everyone, I said, ‘Look, if I feel this doesn’t work out, then we just won’t tell anyone. Kanye who? I didn’t work with him!’
I just was myself and I told Kanye various stories that had inspired me musically. One of them was how the song Let It Be arrived, which was through a dream I’d had in which I’d seen my mother, who had died 10 years previously.
But I was so inspired by that that I wrote the song. I told Kanye that, because he’d lost his mother. So then he wrote a song called Only One when I was just noodling around on the electronic piano. So he got the melody, I put the chords in and the style and that’s how it happened.
Last updated on February 27, 2021
Concerts, TV & radio shows
Feb 08, 2015 • USA • Los Angeles • Staples Center • TV show