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Kanye West

June 8, 1977

Artistfacts for Kanye West

  • Kanye West was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Ray West, a former Black Panther who was one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Dr. Donda West, a Professor of English at Clark Atlanta University.
  • Kanye means "the only one" in Swahili.
  • When Kanye was three years old, his parents divorced, and he and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she was the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University. Donda was a constant presence at his side and later retired to serve as her son's manager. In 2005 West recorded "Hey Mama" as a tribute to his mother, who used this song as her ringtone on her cellphone.
  • When Kanye was ten years old, he spent a year in Nanjing, China, where his mother held a position of visiting professor.
  • West's first career productions came when he helmed eight tracks on Chicago rapper Grav's 1996 first and only album Down To Move. The album did not attract much attention but within a couple of years he was producing for higher profile artists such as Foxy Brown and Jermaine Dupri. In 2000 West began to produce for artists on Roc-a-Fella Records including the Jay-Z song "This Can't Be Life."
  • On his way home from a marathon recording session, West was in a terrible car accident in October 2002 in which he almost died. His jaw was broken in three places and in emergency surgery they had to put a metal plate in his chin. Two weeks after his accident, he recorded his debut single, "Through The Wire," telling the tale of his time spent in hospital with his jaw wired shut.Dr. West tragically died at the age of 58 on November 10, 2007 from complications arising from cosmetic surgery. Kanye recorded the 2008 track "Coldest Winter" as a graveside eulogy for his late mom.
  • Dr. West tragically died at the age of 58 on November 10, 2007 from complications arising from cosmetic surgery. Kanye recorded the 2008 track "Coldest Winter" as a graveside eulogy for his late mom.
  • Much of his 808s & Heartbreak album was inspired by the ending of his 18-month engagement to the designer Alexis Phifer. They had dated on and off since 2002, and got engaged in August 2006.
  • West runs his own record label GOOD Music, home to artists such as Common, Kid Cudi and John Legend.
  • West has diamonds drilled into his teeth. He explained to Vanity Fare: "I just like diamond teeth and I didn't feel like having to take them out all the time."
  • West has a teddy bear for his motif, which appeared on the covers of his first three albums as well as various single covers and music videos.
  • West has a reputation for sometimes engaging his mouth before his brain, most famously at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when Taylor Swift was accepting her award for Best Female Video for "You Belong With Me." West went on stage and grabbed the microphone to proclaim that Beyoncé's video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)" should have won and he was subsequently removed from the remainder of the show for his actions. At the following year's MTV Video Music Awards, he debuted the song "Runaway," which he said was about having remorse for being a fool. He later told New York Magazine: "It's maybe parallel to my career. I threw a Molotov cocktail on my career last year, in a way, and I had to come back as a better person."
  • One of the hostage's ringtones in the 2006 hit thriller The Inside Man is Kanye West's "Gold Digger."
  • Kanye West was voted as the MTV Man of the Year by MTV for 2010.
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