Kanye West

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Kanye West (1977-) is an American hip hop artist from Chicago [born in Atlanta]. Originally a producer for Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records, he started releasing his own music in 2004 with the Grammy-winning College Dropout. Some of his music videos reference and describe his experiences in the South Side of Chicago, including a music video where he rapped in front of a Harold's Chicken restaurant.

Some know him for his controversies. Some of his actions that some may consider egotistical have arguably garnered more attention than his music. His polarizing line from 2005, "George Bush doesn't care about black people" was one example. And then there was--

"Yo Taylor, I'm real happy for you, I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!

*Ahem.* As we were saying, there was also the infamous incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, in which he brusquely interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for winning Best Female Video with the above quote. Reporters, talk shows, and the Internet in general had a field day with this, and several people today (including Barack Obama) still won't let him off the hook.

He's currently released eight albums: The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808's & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus, The Life of Pablo, and a collaboration album with Jay Z titled Watch the Throne. Kanye featured a Funny Animal named "Dropout Bear" on the front cover of his first three albums.

Discography:
Filmography:
  • Runaway (2010)
  • Cruel Summer (2012, with Alexandre Moors)
Kanye West provides examples of the following tropes:
  • All-Star Cast: " All of the Lights" from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy features all of the following on one song: Rihanna, Elly Jackson, Elton John, Alicia Keys, The-Dream, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams, and John Legend.
    • MBDTF in general. Looking at the list of personnel involved, they range from the expected (e.g. Kid Cudi, Drake) to the somewhat less-expected (e.g. Gil Scott-Heron) to the rather bizarre (Justin Vernon of Bon Iver? Really?)
  • Alternative Hip Hop: although the masses tend to view him as a pop rapper due to his use of auto tune, Kanye may be one of the few artistic rappers in the modern music industry and his work incorporates a large body of genres and progressive ideas.
  • Ascended Meme: The leaked, unfinished version of "See Me Now" (a bonus track from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that features Beyonce) has Kanye ad-libbing for about a minute at the end. Among the things he says is...

"...and I'mma let you finish but I got Beyonce on the track!"

"Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. ONE OF THE BEST VIDEOS OF ALL TIME."

  • Boastful Rap: Oh, yes..
    • with Estelle on "American Boy", in which Kanye brags about his fame and fashion sense, with Estelle complimenting him for good measure.
  • Bowdlerization: A couple instances on The College Dropout. Aretha Franklin would only clear the sample for "School Spirit" if Kanye guaranteed the resulting song would be clean, so it's edited even on the explicit version. Less clear is why this also happened to the single swear on "Through the Wire" (left in on the single version) and half of the principal's profane rant in "Graduation Day".
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer Despite how much of a total jackass some might say he is, the music is awesome enough for his career to stay intact.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: As if we didn't already know, the video of Runaway seemed to prove this.
  • Colbert Bump: His decision to bring Justin Vernon in for Dark Twisted Fantasy gave Bon Iver a lot of exposure.
  • Contemptible Cover: The original banned cover art for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (NSFW)
  • Creator Breakdown: His longtime fiancee dumped him, then his mom died a during a plastic surgery operation, the album 808s & Heartbreak being the end result.
  • Darker and Edgier: Late Registration's "Crack Music", which is the bleaker Spiritual Successor to the uplifting "Jesus Walks". The church chorus is still present, but the subject matter and tone doesn't inspire optimism like its predecessor (though that may be the point).
    • 808's and Heartbreak (yes, the entire album) is another big one, though it's less intentional and more due his epic Creator Breakdown (see above for details).
  • Doing It for the Art: The Runaway film. Paid out of his own pocket, done solely to show off the music and backstory of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Def Jam's official statement was basically: "We have no idea where the money for this came from."
  • Dueling Stars Album: Watch The Throne with Jay Z.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Listen to 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.' Now go back and watch the Runaway' film. The film contains 11 of the 13 tracks featured on the album in either a snippet or its full track. The only two tracks on the album that aren't in the film are 'Monster' and 'So Appalled,' which were released as part of his G.O.O.D. Fridays project. So if you heard the two "G.O.O.D. Fridays" and watched the film, you heard the album before it got released in stores.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink His Power video portrays Kanye as Yahweh, Horus and[1] Allah with The Sword of Damocles over his head. Complete with being flanked by Isis and Hathor as well as two Seraphim Aquarius and Half the Major and Minor Arcana. [2]
  • Feghoot: His verse on Kid Cudi's "Erase Me" is all just a set up for him to make a rather corny diarrhea joke.
  • Heel Realization: The narrator of "Runaway".
  • The Illuminati: Ye's membership is proposed by a significant portion of the Fan Dumb. For example. the casual conspiracy theorist who has no knowledge of Roc-A-Fella Records might think that his is an anodyne sign. Helping the theories are the fact that Kanye's among the many popular artists to use Masonic symbolism and other Illuminati references (all seeing-eye, Pharaohs and Egyptian symbolism, pyramids, chessboard etc...) .
  • Insufferable Genius: Prime example for showing that such types are entertaining to watch but highly unpleasant to be around. He almost seems to lampshade this in the remix of Beyoncé's Ego.
  • It's the Best Whatever Ever!: His infamous, endlessly parodied interruption quote.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As obnoxious as he is, he's not entirely a bad person; starting an organization to help kids stay in school and loved his mama enough to start an organization in her memory, etc. He's also been probably the most prominent voice criticizing endemic homophobia in rap music.
  • Large H.A.M.: Kanye loooooooves attention.
  • Loudness War: Most of the albums are brickwalled to a certain extent, but it's particularly Egregious on MBDTF. Thank you, Vlado Meller.
  • Meaningful Name: "Through The Wire" is about a car accident that Kanye was in, and was recorded while his jaw was wired shut.
  • Messianic Archetype: Seems to think of himself like this, as evidenced when he portrayed himself as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone.
  • New Sound Album: 808s and Heartbreak. To a lesser extent Graduation as well, with that album featuring a sound that Kanye described as being more inspired by arena rock.
  • No Indoor Voice: On the Internet at least...his blog is written in ALL CAPS with gratuitous exclamation points.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Graduation Day", "Dark Fantasy", "Gorgeous", "Devil in a New Dress", "New Day", "Gotta Have It", "Otis".
  • Odd Friendship: With Elly Jackson of La Roux and Aziz Ansari.
  • One of Us: Who says top hip-hoppers can't like anime?
    • Besides using Akira as an inspiration for the video for "Stronger", he played clips from various anime works at the listening party for the album Graduation.
    • West once stated he started experimenting with music production as a child, when he was making a video game and needed a soundtrack.
    • From his Twitter: "No way Spirited Away is better than Akira... NOOO WAAAY... sorry was just looking at a youtube of top 10 anime films." So not only does he like anime, he starts online arguments about it.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: Before he blew up, Kanye was usually described as "the cheaper Just Blaze". Good luck affording either of them now.
  • Refrain From Assuming: Kanye insisted on naming "Niggas in Paris" as such (instead of "Ball So Hard" like Jay Z wanted, or "That Shit Cray", both repeated throughout the song) because the song's about them being in Paris.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Though the opposing record labels are really to blame, one can't help but think the Taylor Swift incident had something to do with Kanye's absence from the commercial version of 30 Seconds to Mars' album, This Is War, though the version of the song he guested on was released as a single and put on the Deluxe version. He also performed the song with them live on the 2010 MTV European Music Awards, with a slice of "Power" thrown in.
    • The same can be said for his planned tour with Lady Gaga.
  • Sampling: One of his trademarks in the past was taking samples from old R&B/soul/funk records and pitching them up until they sounded like chipmunks. He himself admitted this technique was borrowed from RZA, but the sheer number of samples Kanye has used in his career has made him sampling's poster boy, and inevitably leads to a Love It or Hate It reaction from people who like the original material.
    • He's branched out a bit as far as genre. Artists sampled in Graduation include Elton John, Steely Dan, Michael Jackson and Daft Punk.
    • 808s, being a weird album, has some weird samples: The Alan Parsons Project, Tears for Fears and... the soundtrack to the '90s Great Expectations movie.
    • And on MBDTF, the list expands to include King Crimson, Aphex Twin, Manfred Mann (and his Earth Band), Black Sabbath and Bon Iver.
      • Ironically, the one song on MBDTF that sounds most like his Dropout era work ("Devil in a New Dress") is the only one that's not self-produced - it was produced by Bink!, one of Kanye's producer friends from the Blueprint period.
    • Taken to its extreme with the track "Comfortable" by Lil Wayne, which is a sample of Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name", which he produced and sampled from a song by The Main Ingredient. In other words, Kanye sampled himself using a sample.
  • Shout-Out: The animated music video for "Heartless". The Rotoscoped animation, Pop Art-influenced backgrounds and a few of the scenes in the video pay tribute to Ralph Bakshi's film American Pop. Also, when the character in the video is seen in his apartment, you can spot posters of The Jetsons and other Hanna-Barbera characters on the wall.
  • Serial Escalation: Done on the first leg of the Watch the Throne Tour with "Niggas in Paris". Kanye and Jay-Z cut the song off near on the first night - and played it again from the top. The resulting crowd explosion apparently convinced them to one-up themselves until they were playing it nine times back-to-back in Chicago.
  • Sincerity Mode: Inverted. His online apology to Taylor Swift (in all caps) contained statements such as "I'm sorry Taylor... Beyoncé had one of the greatest videos of all time!"
    • Many people argue over whether or not he sounded sincere in his apology on The Jay Leno Show.
    • And later played straight when he apologized, for real, to Taylor over Twitter. No, really.
  • Stealth Parody: A few people believe Kanye West is the hip-hop equivalent of Andy Kaufman. But they also think because of the fact he's a rapper, it's no stretch to believe people think Kanye is dead serious
  • Supergroup: "Child Rebel Soldier/CRS" with Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams. Though work has cooled on that front.
    • Recently, he and Jay-Z announced that they would be officially touring under the name "The Throne" for their collaborative album.
  • Take That: Not from Kanye, though when Beyoncé won her award she called Taylor up onto the stage and told her that she deserved to share this moment too, due to the first time of it being soiled by a certain SOMEONE. The certain someone part wasn't said, but she apparently made it quite clear that despite Kanye's opinions about her video, she was plenty ticked at him too. A competing team on America's Best Dance Crew also did a routine to Taylor Swift music, which ended with one of them assuming the role of Kanye and doing his famous rant. Before he could finish, another member turned around and punched him repeatedly before kicking him in the nads.
    • When Taylor Lautner hosted Saturday Night Live, his monologue included an apology to Taylor (his then girlfriend) for not standing up for her, ending with a demonstration of his black-belt level Tae Kwon Do on a Kanye West cardboard cutout.
    • In a rare move for Kanye, he responded to SNL in his first post-VMA single "Power" : "Fuck SNL and the whole cast / tell 'em Yeezy said they could kiss my whole ass / more specifically, they can kiss my asshole / I'm an asshole? You niggas got JOOOOKES" before launching into a verse directed at all the haters. He rewrote the verse when he actually performed the song on SNL - then tweeted "Love to SNL and the whole cast!"
    • Also, when Barack Obama, the President of the United States calls you "a jackass", you really need time to think how you can be a better American citizen. This is considered by some to be the one thing Obama has said that both parties can agree on.
    • In "Power" he refers to himself as the "OBAMAnation of Obama's nation."
    • The 49th annual Country Music Academy Awards also had "Little" Jimmy Dickens interrupt Brad Paisley's award acceptance speech by pulling Kanye's famous rant, except by ending it with complimenting Taylor. This was followed by a joke about how a short, 87-year-old man could get past their security. Which is actually a good question for the MTV Awards.
    • "Gorgeous" contains the line "choke a South Park writer with a fishstick".
    • Another jab pointed his way came up in the 2010 CMT Awards. Kid Rock (the host) said that if anybody tried any "Kanye-Westing" or stealing microphones from nice young ladies, he and Hank Williams Jr. would punch their face in.
    • 808s & Heartbreak and MBDTF are full of shots at his ex-fiancee Alexis Phifer and his ex-girlfriend Amber Rose, respectively.
    • When Kanye performed Stronger live at Coachella in 2011, he changed the lines talking about how "I'd do anything for a blond dyke" to past-tense ("I did anything for a blond dyke"), subtly turning them into a shot at Amber Rose, who was at the fest with her new hookup Wiz Khalifa.
    • Taylor managed to get in at least one shot at him when she hosted SNL shortly after the awards; since she was both host and musical guest, during the part of the monologue where the host says "We have a great show for you tonight, [musical guest] is here!", she instead said, "We have a great show for you tonight, Kanye West is NOT here!"
    • In a beautiful example of adding insult to injury, Kanye absolutely skewers Kris Humphries on "Theraflu".

And I'll admit, I had fell in love with Kim

'Round the same time she had fell in love with him

Well that's cool, baby girl, do ya thang

Lucky I ain't had Jay drop him from the team

  • Take That Me: "Runaway".
  • Take This, Haters: "Stronger". More recently, " Power."
  • Textless Album Cover: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
  • Theme Naming: His first three albums, The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation: all to do with, well, college. The next album was originally supposed to continue the trend and be named Good-Ass Job, but its title track was cut and the album was renamed to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
  • The Wiki Rule: Yup he has a wiki
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Hilariously Lampshaded by Joel McHale on The Soup, showing the media's almost Witch Hunt reaction to his actions, and treating Taylor as some kind of saint.
  • Tyson Zone: As described above, West is considered so arrogant that no stories about his ego can be dismissed offhand.
  • Visual Pun: The cover from the album 808's and Heartbreak was a broken red love heart on a green/blue background, one of the singles from the album was called Heartless which just had a plain green/blue cover.
  • What Could Have Been / Ruined FOREVER: As is the case with the development process for most rap albums, rumors circulated that Kanye had a variety of guest artists to choose from in making MBDTF. A wide variety of guest artists, including Soulja Boy (who Kanye had previously offered beats to) and Waka Flocka Flame (one of Gucci Mane's pals who's best described as a cross between Soulja Boy and Lil Jon). Much to the relief of some longtime Kanye fans, these two names never resurfaced. Madlib, the famous experimental, jazzy hip hop producer, was another name frequently mentioned. Who knows whether it would have fit with Kanye's style or not; but it would have been fascinating, no matter what.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Among other things in the film for Runaway the dinner party scene has exclusively black guests with white servants.
  • Written in Infirmity: His first hit "Through the Wire" was written while in the hospital after a car accident and recorded while his jaw was still wired shut.

ONE OF THE BEST ARTICLES OF ALL TIME!

  1. Yahweh and Allah are both names for the same Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, Islamic) God
  2. All scantily clad of course.