June is Black Music Month. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter decreed that the month of June would be dedicated to celebrating the African American music and musicians that have helped the country to dance, express their faith through song, march against injustice, and to defend the country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.
Isn’t it ironic that someone considered by many to be one of the greatest and most influential hip-hop artists of all time has a birthday during this special month? That’s right, Kanye West turns 45 today! Kanye Omari West was born in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of three, after his parents went through a divorce, him and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. West began writing poetry at just five years old, started rapping in the third grade and began making musical compositions in the seventh grade. He would eventually meet his mentor, producer/DJ No I.D. After Kanye got his first sampler at age 15, No I.D. taught him how to sample and program beats.
After years of producing for local up and coming artists in the Chicago area, his name started to ring out loudly. This led to the biggest break that he finally got in 2000, when he began producing for Roc-A-Fella artists. Kanye’s work on Jay-Z‘s 2001 album ‘The Blueprint’ has been praised highly since it’s release over 20 years ago. After the album’s success, he would continue to produce for a host of artists including Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Cam’Ron, Ludacris, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson.
Although Ye gained a ton of notoriety as a producer, his main love was still rapping. Dame Dash reluctantly signed Kanye to the Roc (in part to keep him from signing with other labels). Basically a year after being signed to the label, Kanye got into a car accident that changed his life. His jaw was shattered and had to be wired shut in reconstructive surgery. The product of the ordeal would end up becoming Kanye’s breakthrough. He released ‘Through The Wire‘ and his first studio album ‘The College Dropout‘ and it’s safe to say that the rest is history.
Since then, Kanye has dropped 10 more solo studio albums and 3 collaborative ones, racking up 24 Grammy Awards. Even though his music ability is what we recognize him most for, it is surely not the only thing. The Louis Vuitton Don has always been very big into fashion. He has collaborated with the likes of Nike, The Gap, Louis Vuitton and A.P.C. just to name a few and also leads the Yeezy collaboration with Adidas. Donda, the creative content company named after his mother, was also founded by West. His Donda Sports agency has recently signed two big name athletes with more sure to follow. He also founded GOOD Music in 2004 and helped catapult the careers of artists like Big Sean, John Legend, Teyana Taylor and Pusha T. West has even dipped his hands into the architecture world over the years.
Kanye wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t also come with controversy. He has found himself in the headlines countless amounts of times in regards to his relationship statuses, his views on religion and politics, his antics at award shows and even his mental health issues that he’s faced. Overall, whether you love or hate him, you cannot deny his impact on our culture and especially the music industry. He is one of a kind and has influenced so many people over his time in the game. We salute a true legend on his birthday and to celebrate, we put together a gallery of some of our favorite photos of Ye over the years. Check it out below. HAPPY 45TH YEEZY!
1. JESUS WALKS
2. HEY MAMA
3. BIG BROTHER
4. SUNDAY SERVICE YE
6. MASK OFF?
7. FATHER STRETCH MY HANDS
8. THE DROPOUT
9. 808’S ERA
10. ROSE GOLD
11. ABOVE IT ALL
12. KIDS SEE GHOST
13. LV TEARS OF JOY