Kanye West was born on June 8, 1977 to Donda and Ray West in Atlanta, GA. Mrs. West attained a doctorate degree in English in 1980 and Mr. West had his own photography business. The couple had been married for near to four years at the time of the birth.
Donda West and Ray West divorced and Mrs. West attained custody over Kanye Kanye and the two move to Chicago, where West started to her professor position at Chicago State University. Ray West decided to pursue his business career. West grew up a middle-class life in Chicago, lived one year in China when his mother taught at Nanjing University, and attended Polaris High School. West became involved in the Chicago area hip-hop scene after becoming friends with producer No I.D and getting his first sampler when he was fifteen.
After West receives a scholarship to attend American Academy of Art and subsequently transfers to Chicago State University, he decides to drop out of college to pursue a career in music, much to his mother’s disapproval. West works on production for Chicago artist Gravity and Bad Boy Records’ Mase and realizes that his class schedule prevents him from fully exploring these musical opportunities. Over the years, West works with Chicago artists GLC, Really Doe, Timmy G, and Arrowstar, with whom he creates the group Go Getters. Through the group, he gets in touch with Hinge Studios, which leads to projects with Jay-Z and Lil’ Kim.
West makes the instrumental for Jay-Z’s “This Can’t Be Life” and the single is released.
After being evicted from his home in Chicago, West moves to Hoboken, New Jersey to be closer to New York’s hip-hop scene, where he has more professional opportunities to produce music. It is during this time period that West’s career as a producer flourishes. West also wants to pursue a career as a rapper but his non-gangster image prevents labels from signing him.
On September 11th, 2001, Jay-Z’s album The Blueprint is released. West did a substantial amount of production work for the album. In particular, the song “Izzo (H.O.V.A)” becomes a hit and reaches Billboard Top 10. During this time period there is also a beef between Jay-Z and Nas and Kanye makes the instrumental for Jay’z “The Takeover”, a diss track of Nas that is featured on the album.
In October, Kanye survives fatal car crash that results in his jaw becoming wired. After the near death experience West promises himself that he will to everything he can to pursue his dream of becoming a rapper. The experience also serves as inspiration for West’s song “Through The Wire”, where he actually records himself rapping with the wire in his mouth.
After years of hard work, Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records finally signs West as a rapper. It is on this day that the label releases West’s first studio album The College Dropout. Some of the album’s song’s “Through the Wire”, “Slow Jamz”, and “Jesus Walks” reach the Billboard 200 and Billboard Hot 100.
West founds his own record label GOOD Music that will be under the distribution of Def Jam.
Kanye West receives 10 Grammy nominations and receives 3 Grammys for Best Rap Album for The College Dropout, Best Rap Song for “Jesus Walks, and Best R&B Song for his production work on Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name”.
West announces the creation of his fashion label Pastel, effectively marking the beginning of his career in fashion. In later years West pursues other projects in fashion.
In an interview on MTV with Sway Calloway, West talks about his past experiences being homophobic in high school and later finding out that his cousin was gay. He censures hip-hop culture for largely being homophobic and he tells his fellow hip-hop artists to “stop it”. The interview creates controversy in the hip-hop community and speculations that West himself was gay.
In August, West’s album Late Registration is released. The songs from the album “Touch The Sky”, “Heard ‘em Say”, and “Gold Digger” reach the Billboard Hot 100. At the 2006 Grammys, West receives 8 Grammy nominations and wins 3 Grammys for Best Rap Album for Late Registration, Best Rap Song for “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”, and Best Rap Solo Performance for “Gold Digger”.
On September 2, Kanye West appears with actor Mike Meyers on an NBC special Hurricane Relief, a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina. West becomes frustrated by the President Bush’s lack of response to the Hurricane and goes off script to say: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”. The event, along with the previous interview about homophobia, establishes West as a controversial figure. West later apologizes for his comments.
On September 11, West releases his third studio album Graduation. Coincidentally, 50 Cent decides to release his album Curtis on the same day. The two rappers hold a contest, where they try to outsell each other’s album. West ends winning the competition, signifying a shift in hip-hop away from gangsta rap music and the increase of electronic influences in the music.
On November 12, Kanye West’s mother, Donda West, dies after cosmetic surgery complications. Kanye continues to perform on his Graduation Tour in Paris five days later.
On November 24th, West releases his fourth studio album 808s and Heartbreak. Two of the album’s singles “Love Lockdown” and “Heartless” become hits. The album marks a shift in West’s sound, especially because of the prominent use of autotune and the Ronald TR-808 in the album.
West interrupts Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech of Best Female Video at MTV music awards, saying that Beyonce should have won the music award. He later apologized for his comments.
After living a publicly inactive life in Hawaii for a few months, West releases his fourth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The album’s songs “Power”, “Monster”, “Runaway”, and “All of The Lights” become hits. The album eventually goes platinum the following January.
In August, West releases his joint album Watch The Throne with Jay-Z. The album receives 7 Grammy nominations and produces the long lasting hit “Niggas in Paris”.
On September 4, GOOD Music releases the album Cruel Summer, a compilation album between its artists and record label affiliates. The album features Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean, Teyena Taylor, Cyhi the Prynce, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Common, D’banj, Malik Yusef, 2 Chainz, Jay Z, and Travi$ Scott, among many other artists.
In June, Kanye West releases his seventh studio album Yeezus, which features the hits “Blood on the Leaves”, “New Slavez”, “Black Skinhead”, and “Bound 2”.
After much anticipation and several name changes, Kanye West releases The Life of Pablo on February 14th. The album goes to number one spot on the Billboards 100, characterized by its integration of Gospel. After the release, Kanye adds changes to some of the tracks on the album as well as including the last song “Saint Pablo”. Also to note, the initial album release does not include any use of CDs.
In November, West suffers a mental breakdown and is taken to the UCLA Medical Center. A few days prior at a concert in Sacramento on his Saint Pablo tour, West tells the audience that he would have voted for Trump if he had voted. West cancels the tour after another concert where he reprimands Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Hillary Clinton, and Mark Zuckerberg. Some speculate that West’s breakdown was sparked by the anniversary of his mother’s funeral, which occurred nine years prior.
After virtually disappearing from the public eye following his mental breakdown and deactivating his social media, West is reported to be in Jackson Hole, Wyoming working on a variety of recording projects.
In April, Kanye re-emerges into the public with a flurry of tweets, re-affirming his controversial support of Republican President Donald Trump and asserting that slavery “was a choice,” while simultaneously announcing that he will release five albums in the summer of 2017 as the result of his “Wyoming Sessions.” These include collaborations with Pusha T, Kid Cudi, Nas, Teyana Taylor, and a project of his own.
In May/June, Kanye releases 5 albums that he produced/worked on including Pusha T’s Daytona, Nas’ Nasir, Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E, Kids See Ghosts’ Kids See Ghosts (with Kid Cudi), and Kanye’s own ye. ye received generally positive, yet somewhat mixed reviews, becoming Kanye’s eighth consecutive album to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 200.
In September/October, Kanye continues to make waves in tabloid headlines, holding a controversial meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, as well as announcing the impending release of his ninth studio album, Yandhi.