When he's not blowing up the Twittersphere with his caps-lock key, Kanye West is reinventing himself. There is one thing that remains constant: whatever he does-- it's gonna be groundbreaking.
The Chicago native grew up in an intellectual environment; his mother was a professor and English chair at Chicago State University. West himself attended Chicago State University, but soon dropped out to pursue his burgeoning music career. By the late '90s, West was producing rap and hip-hop's hottest tracks and club bangers. His breakout production credit was Jay-Z's 2001 jam "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)", which led to more collaborations with Jay-Z, Ludacris, DMX, Monica, and Foxy Brown.
It wasn't long before West wanted to step out of the production panel and into the recording booth. Faced with reluctance from record execs, West was able to finagle a solo recording deal with Def Jam. On the way to the recording studio in 2002, West was involved in a near fatal car accident that left him hospitalized and severely hurt for several weeks. West drew inspiration from the accident and -- with the help of a Chaka Khan hook -- he crafted his debut single "Through the Wire" which chronicles his near-death experience. Kanye's debut album, "The College Dropout", was released in 2004 and he was immediately heralded as the MC who was going to take hip-hop to the next level. The album was certified triple platinum and all hesitations of West's rhyming abilities were laid to rest.
After the success of the album, West collaborated with Brandy on her comeback album as well as Alicia Key's sophomore release, ensuring hit singles for both. He released his sophomore album, "Late Registration", in 2005 with the lead single "Diamonds From the Sierra Leone". The album was a critical and commercial success, with Rolling Stone calling the album a "Sweepingly generous, absurdly virtuosic hip-hop classic". The album debuted at #1, selling over 860k copies in its maiden week. West went on to be nominated for eight Grammy awards including Album of the Year, and winning for Best Rap Album.
Kanye repeated the success with his third album "Graduation", which sold 437k copies on its first day of release and nearly a million copies in its first week. In 2008, Kanye West concert dates were scheduled on the "Glow in the Dark Tour", which featured Rihanna, Lupe Fiasco, and Nas.
West released his fourth album, "808s & Heartbreak" in 2008, which was a departure from his previously upbeat, humorous style. The album's initial singles "Love Lockdown" and "Heartless" chronicled heartache and love lost. The album debuted at #1 in and sold nearly half a million copies in its maiden week. Kanye was quick to return in 2010 with his latest album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy " in 2010. The album marked a shift in the rapper's style, showcasing more serious, creative, and innovative songs. The next year, Kanye headlined the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California, where his performance was widely publicized in the national media as one of the greatest hip-hop sets of all time.
Looking to cement his place in the annuls of hip hop fame, Kanye's next album was a collaboration with mentor Jay-Z. Watch the Throne became another platinum record on West's wall, due to the blending of his orchestral and rock beats and brazen lyrics with Jay-Z's dogmatic composition. Kanye's search for the next plateau had fans waiting on the 2013 album, Yeezus, longer than expected. However, the result was an album unlike anything heard in hip hop. The stripped down, industrial sound created by Rick Rubin incorporated elements of dancehall, acid house, and Chicago drill that resulted in haunting melodies.
Despite the sound featured on Yeezus, Kanye next collaborated with Paul McCartney on the songs "FourFiveSeconds" and "Only One", the latter a lullaby for young North West. His third collaboration with McCartney, "All Day", returned to the etheric, industrial direction in which Kanye had been headed. As did the single "Wolves", both becoming the lead singles off of the 2015 album, So Help Me God.
Throughout all the success and controversy, Kanye West has maintained a ninja-like focus towards his recording career. He is undoubtedly one of the best performers, producers, and personas in American pop culture history. Use Eventful as your source for Kanye West tour dates and venue information.