16 Lesser Known Facts We Learned From Kanye West’s Wikipedia Page
At this point in his career, Kanye West's personal and professional lives are pretty much open books to the public. With five albums in the can and a sixth titled Yeezus on the way, pretty much every listener knows the ins and outs of the Chicago rap star's story. Still, Yeezy's Wikipedia page is rife with factoids and tid-bits that the average G.O.O.D. Music devotee may not know.
Now, XXL has decided to put together a list of 16 lesser known things that we learned from Mr. West's Wiki page.
He Was Actually Born In Atlanta
That's right—Chi Town's number one son isn't actually a native of the Windy City; Kanye was actually born in Atlanta, where his father Ray was a photojournalist and Christian counselor and his mother Donda was English professor at Clark Atlanta University. He only moved to Chicago at the age of three when his parents divorced.
He Helped Fund His Father's Cafe
In 2006, Yeezy's father Ray West relocated to Maryland, where he opened up the G.O.O.D. Water Store and Café in the Lexington Park area. However, it was Ray's son Kanye who helped fund the project by giving his father the start-up capital for the cafe.
He Went To School In China
Yeezy was international before the fame and glory when he and his mother lived in Nanjing, China at the age of 10. According to West's mother Donda—who was teaching at Nanjing University as part of an exchange program at the time—'Ye was the only non-native student in his school. However, West was quickly able to pick up the language.
His First Manager Was His Mother
At the start of his music career, Kanye apparently kept his business dealings all in the family. West's late mother Donda—a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University and later Chicago State University—retired from teaching to become her son's manager for the early part of his career.
He First Produced For Chicago Rapper Grav
Long before he linked up with Hov and the Roc Army, Kanye cut his teeth alongside local Chicago rapper Grav. At the age of 19, Yeezy produced eight songs for Grav's debut album Down To Earth. Although the album wasn't successful—it was Grav's only LP to date—the gig did lead to higher profile production placements for the young producer.
He Wasn't Allowed To Go Solo, So He Formed A Group
It's no great secret that Kanye was once a member of the group the Go-Getters—a Chicago squad that also included GLC, Timmy G, Really Doe, and Arrowstar. However, part of the reason the crew came about is that Kanye wasn't allowed to go solo due to contractual obligations to producer/mentor Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie.
His First Song With Jay-Z Is "The Can't Be Life"
Although Yeezy has since become one of Jay's biggest collaborators, the duo's first song together dates back to 2000 on Hov's The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. Kanye is credited with producing the Scarface and Beanie Sigel-assisted "The Can't Be Life," for which he sampled Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes' "I Miss You."
He Used To Play His Demo For Def Jam A&R Chris Anokute
Kanye's struggle to transition from producer to MC is well documented throughout his music. However, 'Ye didn't keep to quiet about his desire to become a full-fledged rapper. Def Jam A&R Chris Anokute recalled that Yeezy would often play his demo for him in his cubicle when he would stop by Def Jam's offices to pick up his production checks.
He Refuses To Work With Royce Da 5'9"
Kanye and Royce have a long-standing feud stemming from a 2003 song that West produced for the Detroit rhymer titled "Heartbeat." West alleges that Nickel Nine never paid for the beat, but recorded to it and released it on Build And Destroy: The Lost Sessions regardless. He has since stated that he will never work with Royce again.
He Worked With Film Composer Jon Brion On Late Registration
While preparing for his sophomore studio release Late Registration, Yeezy pulled out all the stops to create a more eclectic sound. Yeezy enlisted noted film composer Jon Brion to help craft Late Registration's sonics. Although Brion is a solo artist in his own right, he composed soundtracks for films like I Heart Huckabees, Magnolia, Step Brothers and more.
He Worked With Rick Rubin and Larry Charles On A TV Show
At one point in his career—circa the release of Graduation in 2007—Kanye was slated to star in a TV series. Back by producers Rick Rubin and Larry Charles, the show was set to be a half-hour scripted sitcom based West's life and music career. Despite numerous mentions of the show to the press, it ultimately never made it to TV.
He Recorded With Rock Group 30 Seconds To Mars
Although 'Ye has a penchant for left field collaborations—most notably Chris Martin of Coldplay, Daft Punk, Bon Iver and Katy Perry—one of his most unexpected collabs came with rock group 30 Seconds To Mars. In 2009, Kanye recorded a song titled "Hurricane" with the group—which features actor Jared Leto on the lead vocals—but the song was only ever released as a bonus cut due to label issues.
He Cites RZA As His Primary Influence
Although his relationships with hip-hop legends like No I.D. and D-Dot are well known, Kanye's primary production influence is the RZA. According to Yeezy himself, RZA's work with the Wu influenced numerous aspects of his later career—"from [the] slang to style of dress, skits, the samples."
He Allegedly Ghost Produced For D-Dot
While ghost production is hardly a rare instance in the hip-hop industry, Kanye West opened up about his under-the-table work for Bad Boy veteran D-Dot on "Last Call" off The College Dropout. His Wiki page adds more credence to the claim, citing his "additional production" credit on Nas' D-Dot produced "Poppa Was A Playa" as evidence.
He Was Influenced To Use String Sections By Portishead
Although the mid-90's trip-hop outfit Portishead has earned itself a special place in hip-hop history for its unique use of samples and drums, Kanye divined a different influence from the iconic British group. Kanye's increased use of string sections over the years is a result of listening to Portishead's Roseland NYC Live album with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
He Was Sued By Evel Knievel
Even though Kanye's faced the occasional sampling license suit in his day, legendary daredevil Robert "Evel" Knievel took the rapper to court over his "Touch The Sky" video. Knievel deemed the video to be "vulgar and offensive," and an illegal use of Knievel's likeness. The suit was later dropped after West and Knievel had a sit-down meeting, after which Knievel called 'Ye, "a wonderful guy and quite a gentleman."