Black History Month: Kanye West

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Black History Month: Kanye West

Dennis Cox, Reporter

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I am a God,” he claims. He supported the abolishment of the 13th amendment. He snatched the microphone from Taylor Swift as she accepted an award, and told the crowd, “Beyoncé should have won.” He told the country, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” on national television. He posed with a crown of thorns on the cover of a 2006 Rolling Stone Cover.

He is considered by some to be the most controversial man alive. In 2015, TIME Magazine ranked him at the top of their ‘100 Most Influential People’ list. He has 21 Grammy awards.

Kanye Omari West was born on June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Ga. He moved to Chicago, Ill., with his mother at age three. Kanye’s father was a former Black Panther; his mother a former English professor.

West created a makeshift recording studio when he was 13. At 15, he learned how to sample beats from the legendary producer No I.D.

In 1997, West received a scholarship to Chicago’s American Academy of Art; he later transferred to Chicago State University to study English.

At 20 years-old, Kanye West dropped out of college.

West spent the 1990s producing records for various artists. In 2000, he started working with Jay-Z at Roc-A-Fella records. Kanye expressed aspirations to become a rapper, but he was dismissed, as he was widely viewed as a producer. West got his big break producing Jay-Z’s 2001 album, “The Blueprint.” Kanye West revitalized the hip-hop sound by sampling soul music, a technique that would change the standard for musicians everywhere.

Kanye West’s life changed the next year in 2002. On Oct. 23, 2002, West fell asleep at the wheel of his rented Lexus and drifted into traffic.

The wreck was devastating. His legs were both broken, and his jaw was shattered. With no health insurance, West had to pay for the hospital bills entirely out-of-pocket.

Two weeks after being admitted into the hospital, Kanye West returned to the recording studio. He looped the hook from Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire”, and recorded his single- “Through the Wire”- with his jaw wired shut.

“Through the Wire” was released in 2003, and appeared on Kanye West’s debut studio album, “The College Dropout,” which would go on to win the Grammy award for Best Rap Album.

The early 2000’s was the era of ‘Bling Rap’, in which rappers would brag about their expensive chains and clothing. West’s album dealt with topics like religion, race, and perseverance. He changed the standards for hip-hop music.

Kanye West didn’t stop there. With every new project, West introduced a new technique, a new style, an innovative sound. When recording his second studio album, “Late Registration,” he brought a live string quartet into the studio to record samples of their sound. In “808s and Heartbreak,” Kanye West’s fourth album, he implemented auto-tune and an electric sound to his music.

Now, Kanye West has eight studio albums to his name, along with three cooperative albums. With more than 450 production credits, West is one of the most recognized and talented musical producers of all time. After producing albums for Pusha T, Nas, and Teyana Taylor, (along with his album, “Ye,” and his collaborative album with Kid Cudi, “KIDS SEE GHOSTS,”) in 2018, the American Academy of Music listed Kanye West as one of the nominees for Producer of the Year in the 61st Grammy Awards.

Despite the controversial outbursts, his surprising political opinions, and the strange relationship he has with President Trump, it is clear the mind of Kanye West is a complex system of ideas that can only be described as genius.

Undeterred by the dissenting opinions of many, the fashion designer, producer, rapper, entrepreneur, political activist, devoted Christian, family man, and potential presidential candidate Kanye West maintains an untenable creativity that establishes him in history as an artistic and musical icon.

His impact is undeniable and immeasurable. His voice inspires rhetoric and complex thought around the world. His beautiful mind is inspiring. In a world shaped by artistic achievement, his past, present, and future works of rhythm and sound sear the name ‘Kanye’ into the skin human history.

“I’m a human being. I’ve got opinions, I’m not always right, I’m not always on time, I don’t always say things in the proper way, but my intentions are always extremely pure.”

– Kanye West