The Evolution of Kanye West [UPDATED]

The Evolution of Kanye West [UPDATED]

From producing for Jay-Z to his relationship with Kim Kardashian and his anti-Semitic comments, we cover the evolution of Kanye West’s music career and persona.

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Kanye West’s life has been one hell of a ride—or some might say a train wreck for himself, his fans, haters and everyone in between. And yet, we all must admit this one thing: the man is a talented musician, rapper and producer who has made some of the best and most memorable hip-hop music...ever.

But somehow along the way, Ye has made some of the most controversial and questionable decisions a public figure could ever make. Some people love him, and many people hate him, but one thing remains: almost everyone continues to pay attention.

So, let’s dive in. Here is the evolution of Kanye West.

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Producing for Jay-Z

Producing for Jay-Z

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Before Kanye was an outlandish and talented rapper and billionaire mogul, he was a humble producer working for Roc-A-Fella Records. His most notable work during this time was his production of Jay-Z’s 2001 album The Blueprint.

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Car crash

Car crash

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Screenshot: WIUX

While out in Los Angeles in October 2002 working on his debut album, Kanye fell asleep at the wheel and almost died in a car crash that left him with a shattered jaw which was wired shut in reconstructive surgery. The incident inspired Kanye to write his first hit single, “Through The Wire.”

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College Dropout

College Dropout

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The success of “Through The Wire” gave Roc-A-Fella Records the confidence to release his debut album College Dropout in February 2004, which was met with critical and mainstream success and made Kanye one of the biggest rising stars in rap. Songs like “Slow Jamz,” “All Falls Down,” and “Jesus Walks” all became big songs for Kanye and catapulted him to another level of fame.

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Grammys

Grammys

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The Recording Academy recognized Kanye’s success and he won his first of many Grammys for best rap album in 2005, beating out Jay-Z, Nelly and LL Cool J. In total, he was nominated for 10 Grammys. In total, Kanye has won 22 Grammys.

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Late Registration

Late Registration

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Kanye went right back to work releasing his sophomore album Late Registration in August 2005. The album featured hit records, “Heard ‘Em Say,” “Touch the Sky,” “Gold Digger,” and “Diamonds From Sierra Leone.” Kanye again won the Grammy for best rap album in 2006.

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Kanye vs 50 Cent

Kanye vs 50 Cent

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West’s third studio album saw him in competition with fellow star rapper, 50 Cent. Kanye with his album Graduation and 50 Cent with his album Curtis went head to head with the same release date in September 2007. Graduation outsold Curtis by a wide margin and solidified a changing of the guard in hip-hop. Kanye flamboyant and energetic style showed that hardcore-gangster rap is not the only way to sell rap music.

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Death of Donda West

Death of Donda West

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In November 2007, Donda West, Kanye’s mother died unexpectedly due to post-plastic surgery complications. Kanye’s heartbreak inspired his next album 808s & Heartbreak and just two days after his mother’s funeral, Kanye went back on tour.

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“I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!”

“I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!”

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Up until “The Slap,” this was the craziest live TV moment anyone had ever seen. While Taylor Swift was doing her acceptance speech for winning best female video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye hopped on stage, grabbed the mic from Swift and said, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’m gonna let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!” and then proceeded to shrug his head and get off the stage. You gotta love live TV.

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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Kanye has one of the best music discographies in history. His worst album is better than many artists’ best. But what many consider his magnum opus is his 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The album is perfect and is considered one the best albums of all time.

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Watch the Throne

Watch the Throne

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Kanye collaborated with Jay-Z once again, but this time as a fellow rapper. In January 2011 the two released the collaborative album Watch the Throne with the album artwork being done by Virgil Abloh. The album was a no-doubt hit and birthed records like, “Niggas in Paris,” “Otis,” and “No Church in the Wild.”

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Kanye and Kim

Kanye and Kim

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Here comes the Kanye Kardashian saga. Kanye and Kim Kardashian started dating in 2011 and welcomed their first child, daughter North West in June 2013. In May 2014, they tied the knot and got married. Since then, they have had three more children.

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GOOD Music

GOOD Music

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In September 2012, the compilation album Kanye West Presents: Good Music - Cruel Summer was released and featured all of the signees and frequent collaborators of West’s label, GOOD Music. Some of the artists signed to his label at that time included, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Teyana Taylor, Kid Cudi, Common and Cyhi the Prynce. The albums featured hit records “Clique,” “Mercy.1,” and “Don’t Like.1.”

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Yeezus

Yeezus

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Screenshot: YouTube

Kanye went from rapping about god’s son on “Jesus Walks” in 2004, to actually becoming him on his 2013 album Yeezus. The album was met with mixed reviews but made Kanye more of a polarizing figure. The music video for “Bound 2” featured a topless Kim Kardashian riding on a motorbike with Kanye through various landscapes.

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The Life of Pablo

The Life of Pablo

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The seventh studio album went through multiple name changes. First Kanye said it was going to be called Swish, then later he redacted that name and called it Waves. To premier both the album and season 3 of his Yeezy clothing line, Kanye had a listening party/fashion show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Then, several days before the album’s release, he finally landed on the name The Life of Pablo.

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Trump and Kanye

Trump and Kanye

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The history of Kanye and Trump is a long one. But while on his Saint Pablo Tour in San Jose, California, Kanye went on a nearly 25-minute rant discussing his political views and publicly endorsing President Dondals Trump saying, “If I would’ve voted, I would ‘ve voted for Trump.” Then in the years following Kanye was seen with Trump, wearing MAGA hats and showing his unrivaled support of the former president of the United States.

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Slavery was a choice

Slavery was a choice

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Screenshot: TMZ

During an interview with TMZ (and Candace Owens by his side) in 2018, Kanye gave his reasoning for wearing the “Make America Great Again Hat,” and went as uttering one of the dumbest statements in the history of man, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years that sounds like a choice.” As you would imagine, the Black community was pissed and while at the TMZ office, one of the employees, Van Lathan, offered a perfect response.

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Jesus is King/Christianity/Sunday Service

Jesus is King/Christianity/Sunday Service

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For Kanye’s ninth studio album, Kanye decided to tap into his Christian faith and dropped the Christian rap album Jesus Is King in October 2019 in what he described as “an expression of the gospel.” For the rollout of the album, Kanye went around the country with the help of the Sunday Service Choir and held performances across the country with the choir.

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Kanye for president

Kanye for president

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It seemed like Kanye was always joking when he said he was going to run for president for the 2020 election. But it seemed he was serious when he held an unorganized and dysfunctional campaign rally in July 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. He made some wild statements like “Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves” and “I almost killed my daughter.”

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Donda album release

Donda album release

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In 2021 Kanye teased his tenth studio album Donda in what felt like months. He held two arenas listening to parties at the Mercedes Benz Dome in Atlanta and one at Soldier Field in Chicago giving fans a chance to listen to the album. Each one was different and they each got weirder and wilder. During the final listening party in Chicago, Kanye reconstructed his childhood home, reenacted his marriage with Kim Kardashian and lit himself on fire! After weeks of delays, the album was finally released on the last Sunday in August.

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Kanye/Kim/Pete Davidson

Kanye/Kim/Pete Davidson

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Now we’re in the present, while in the process of divorcing Kim Kardashian, Kanye decided to go at any and everyone that made him angry, most notably Kim’s new boyfriend, Pete Davidson. He went on a social media rant of the likes we have probably never seen before going at everyone from Kim, Davidson, Kid Cudi, Billie Eilish and dozens more. He addressed his issues in a song with The Game titled, “Eazy,” where he said he would beat Davidson’s ass and in the music video of the song, acted out killing him.

When Davidson and Kim broke up, Kanye shared a petty reaction on his Instagram profile, which showed an image of a New York Times front page that read, “SKETE DAVIDSON DEAD AT AGE 28.”

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Struggles with Adidas and Gap

Struggles with Adidas and Gap

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In 2022, Kanye has made his issues with Adidas and Gap very public. In August, he received some criticism on social media for selling clothes from his Yeezy Gap collection out of trash bags. Nearly a month later in September, he notified Gap that he is terminating his partnership with the clothing retailer over disagreements on how they’re handling his designed clothing.

With Adidas, Kanye has been extremely open about his problems with Adidas and even went on a long social media rant calling out executives at the shoe company. In a documentary released on Oct. 10, Last Week, he shared footage of himself in a meeting with Adidas executives where he can be seen out airing his issues with the company.

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“WHITE LIVES MATTER

“WHITE LIVES MATTER

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Photo: Kanye West

While at his surprise Yeezy show during Paris Fashion Week, Kanye stunned audience members and social media when he came out wearing a shirt that read “WHITE LIVES MATTER” in capital letters across the back. Candace Owens, a notorious right-wing political commentator, showed up with the same shirt to sport it next to Kanye.

As you would imagine, this caught the ire of almost everyone in the Black community that Kanye would wear something that was so insensitive to a much large issue.

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Anti-Semitic Comments

Anti-Semitic Comments

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Kanye West’s hateful speech has reached an all-time high. He was restricted from using Instagram and Twitter for making anti-Semitic comments on both platforms. Leaked footage from his interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson saw Kanye dig himself into an even deeper hole with even more heinous and controversial anti-Semitic statements.

Just as we thought it couldn’t get any worse, media personality Van Lathan claimed that the Chicago rapper said he “loved” Adolf Hitler and the Nazi during his infamous 2018 interview with TMZ.

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