On this day, June 7, in hip-hop history…

1977: Kanye West is known by many for his rants, awards show antics, and his highly publicized relationship with a certain Armenian-American reality star. Many, however, forget the fact that Kanye West “started from the bottom” and worked his way to the top of the music industry. Believe it or not, there was a time when Kanye West was simply a producer by the name of K. West, shopping his demo CD around in an effort to convince labels of his rapping ability. There was a time when producing Jay-Z’s smash single “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” from The Blueprint was his biggest claim to fame.

Five platinum-selling solo albums and 21 Grammys later, Kanye Omari West is one of hip-hop’s most prolific and polarizing figures. In addition to providing music lovers with countless hits and memorable (often controversial) moments, Mr. West has directly influenced the direction hip-hop music has taken. His introspective, boundary pushing brand of hip-hop has kicked the door open for other conscious rappers, and shifted hip-hop’s focus away from gangster rap. As he celebrates his 36th birthday, music fans all over the world await the release of his sixth studio album, Yeezus, which is set to release on June 18.

Happy Birthday, Kanye! – Chisom Uzosike