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.
A Tribe Called Quest:
A Tribe Called Quest is one of Hip Hops most legendary, beloved and revered groups of all time and for good reason. Easily recognized for their unique approach to rap music by employing jazz infused soundscapes to Afro centric rhymes, sans the jaded and often nihilistic aggressive posturing associated with hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest was largely responsible for the popularity of a new genre that dominated the East Coast sound of the early 1990s.
Queens, New York natives Q-Tip , Phife Dawg , and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of Brooklyn, formed ATCQ in 1985. Jarobi, the honorary member of ATCQ, though not always heard, was a fixture of the group in heart and in friendship. QUEST, the original name of the group, was later given the prefix A Tribe Called by their high school buddies, The Jungle Brothers, while recording Black Is Black for their album Straight Out The Jungle. ATCQ, along with the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul, formed a unit called The Native Tongues. With a building buzz around The Native Tongues and Tribes energetic live performances, ATCQ landed a major recording contract with Jive Records in 1989.
Sonically, ATCQ was a decisive and welcomed tangent of jazz, bass-heavy rhythmic vibes and eclectic sampling when compared to the mundane recycling of soul loops, breaks and vocals of their contemporaries. Lyrically, emcees Q-Tip and Phife Dawg addressed social issues relevant to young blacks such as use of the n word and its relevance, date rape and other interpersonal relationships, industry politics and consumerism with infectious energy and fun and having a good time while still promoting positivity.
ATCQ composed a number of successful singles and albums with their creative approach to rap music. In 1990, the group released Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, scoring several memorable songs including Bonita Applebum, Can I Kick It and I Left my Wallet in El Segundo. It was their sophomore effort, The Low End Theory, considered one of the greatest follow-ups in hip-hop history, that would solidify them as legends. Released in late 1991, the freedom expressed in the creation and feel of this record - along with its successor Midnight Marauders - influenced many future artists and producers such as Common, The Roots, Jill Scott, Kanye West and The Neptunes. These artists are a part of ATCQs legacy and are evidence of ATCQs impact for years to come. Classics like Award Tour, Electric Relaxation, Check The Rhyme and Scenario defined ATCQs sound during this period.
In 1996, ATCQs fourth album, Beats, Rhymes & Life, was released. The Ummah - a production team consisting of Q-Tip , Ali Shaheed and newcomer and stellar talent Jay Dee (now Jay Dilla of Slum Village) - was established the same year. The team worked together to share their aural aesthetic with other artists like Janet Jackson, DAngelo, and Faith Evans.
ATCQ continued to perfect and advance their sound, displaying their unique take on hip-hop. It was with the completion of their fifth studio album, The Love Movement, that ATCQ chose to exit the proverbial stage.
In recent years, the anticipation for another ATCQ album has been building. The Abstract Poetic, Five Foot Assasin , and Mr. Muhammad have yet to grace the studio for another record, but have hit the road again. Today, the power of their music is still evident in their dynamic stage shows and in the reception of their adoring fans.
A Tribe Called Quests anomalous posture has changed the face and sound of hip-hop and paved the way for future groups, artists, producers and even fans to be unapologetic about their creative expression. With or without future recordings, ATCQs legacy lives on in the groups creative innovation that is recognized as a profound contribution to musical history.