KANYE WEST FACTS:
Genre: Hip Hop
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Albums: The College Dropout (2004); Late Registration (2005); Graduation (2007); 808s & Heartbreak (2008); My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010); Sixth studio album (2011)
Awards: 14 Grammy Awards
Hits: "Gold Digger," "Stronger," "Heartless," "All of the Lights"
Other: As a producer, worked with Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, Drake, and more.
It’s difficult to discuss contemporary hip-hop without talking about Kanye West. Since he first came on the scene almost a decade ago, Kanye has been among the most prolific rappers of his generation. Thanks to his wildly popular solo albums, numerous collaborations and a larger-than-life public persona, there is no telling where Kanye will take things next.
Though he is most well-known as a rapper, Kanye got his start producing beats for already-established acts like Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. It was for his work on the latter’s wildly successful 2001 album Blueprint that he earned the greatest recognition and would start him down the path to a solo career.
Kanye released his debut album, The College Dropout, in 2004, and it remains one of his most widely praised records. Featuring contributions from Jay-Z and John Legend, the album includes a number of popular tracks that have stood the test of time including "Jesus Walks," and "Through the Wire." The record earned two Grammys and was considered by many to be the best of the year.
Kanye followed up the immense popularity and success of his debut with another hit record, Late Registration. The album hit stores in 2005 and once again was filled with populars songs including "Gold Digger," which was helped by an iconic sample of a Ray Charles song performed by Jaime Foxx. Once again, the album was replete with guest performances including ones from Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and Lupe Fiasco.
Kanye’s third album, Graduation, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts, further cementing his place atop the hip-hop world by the middle of the decade. Much like it’s predecessors, the record earned significant critical acclaim thanks to a sting of strong tracks including "Stronger," "Good Life" and "Flashing Lights."
After Graduation, Kanye took things in a different direction, proving his versatility as an artist and a performer. On 808s and Heartbreak, he made extensive use of Auto-Tune to produce something completely unique, with songs like "Love Lockdown" and "Heartless" dominating radio stations. His 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, gave listeners a peek into his personal struggles and featured impressive contributions from everyone from Nicki Minaj on "Monster" to Bon Iver on the pensive "Lost in the World."
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