A retrospective look into the life of Kanye West

Tavian B.

Kanye West, a polarizing name and figure across multiple industries. 

Despite a career ridden with numerous controversies, West has cemented himself as a genius and one of the best musicians and fashion designers to ever live.

Born June 8th, 1977, West was raised by his mother Donda West following her divorce to his father Ray West. Growing up in the city of Chicago, West began his career as a producer for local rappers in his hometown. West would see his first official production credit in 1996 on the debut album of Chicago rapper Grav during his senior year of high school. Upon graduating high school, West received a scholarship to Chicago’s American Academy of Art of which he famously dropped out of, acting as inspiration for his debut album “The College Dropout” in 2004.

Using this moniker created with the release of “College Dropout”, West would release two more albums during this “era” of his career, those being “Late Registration” in 2005 and what many believe to be his best work, “Graduation” in 2007. These three albums formed a trilogy of what many fans look back at and remember as the classic and fundamental releases in West’s career.

Following his mother’s passing on November 10, 2007 and his 18-month engagement to actor Alexis Phifer being ended, West was inspired to create his fourth album “808s & Heartbreak”, releasing in 2008 as a story of self-examination and exorcism of these two life-altering events. 

Following these album releases, West began to see major success, being nominated for multiple awards and making his way onto the Billboard Hot 100 charts for multiple songs at the same time. Alas, the good times would not last forever, as West would soon begin to face large amounts of criticism and backlash. 

At the 2009 VMAs, West would barge onto the stage and interrupt Taylor Swift while she accepted her award for Best Female Video, exclaiming “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” 

Following the incident, the media began to publish mass amounts of articles regarding the situation, and fans berated him with criticism. This coupled with West’s already declining mental health state led him to completely isolate himself from social media and most of the outside world, lodging himself in Hawaii where he began to work on what may be perhaps his most critically acclaimed album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” which would release in 2010. 

Following this, West would go on to release five more solo albums, along with collaboration albums with fellow rappers Jay-Z and Kid Cudi titled “Watch the Throne” and “Kids See Ghost” respectively, as well as marrying media personality and businesswoman Kim Kardashian in 2014 with whom he now has four children.

In recent years, West has become somewhat of a polarizing figure to the public eye due to a number of controversies typically caused by his unfiltered manner of speech and lack of care about the public’s perception of him. In 2020, West fell under heavy criticism from the public due to his focal support for President Donald Trump, and has recently been dropped from all brand deals he was once a part of due to certain statements made about the Jewish community, resulting in billions of dollars being lost. On top of that, he recently divorced his ex-wife of eight years, previously mentioned media personality Kim Kardashian, to which he shared some choice words on social media, both criticizing her and asking her to rekindle their relationship at many points in time.

Despite his headstrong personality and acts which many find to be outlandish and hateful, I believe that West has shown his genius to the world in a multitude of ways. His musical ability and eye for fashion are practically unrivaled, and the ideas he creates seemingly exist in their own world we can’t comprehend. Though some of his actions are wrong, West can and should be able to redeem himself to the public instead of being scrutinized and forced to exile himself from society, as I believe he can and has done more good than harm throughout his life and career. 

A genius in many ways and a fool in others, West truly is a one of a kind personality, one which we may never experience again within our lifetimes.