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It's been 12 years since the release of Kanye West's debut album 'The College Dropout' and in that decade he had become a staple of hip-hop, which can mainly be attributed to these 18 career defining moments of his.
'Ye's mum was an English professor and education was very important to them both. Kanye West previously studied art at college and then English at Chicago State University, but at age 20 he decided to drop out to pursue a career in music. The event is what inspired Kanye's debut, platinum selling album 'College Dropout.'
Before anyone knew who 'Kanye West' was, 'Ye found a mentor in No I.D when the two were introduced and No I.D invited Kanye to his producing sessions with Common. The relationship had a huge influence on 'Ye's career, who began experimenting with hip-hop production himself. It was also No I.D who introduced Kanye to Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua, the A&R for Roc-a-fella records, who would end up signing Kanye.
Everyone knows that Kanye West is the King of sampling music. From Daft Punk to Etta James to Marvin Gaye, Kanye went where other hip-hop artists didn't even know existed. His unique style of speeding up the samples made him sound fresh, was getting him noticed on production he was doing for local artists, and is often credited with reviving Jay Z's career. Picture: Getty
Kanye's big break came in 2000 when he got a job producing records at Roc-A-Fella Records where he made a remarkable name for himself. His most notable work in this era is undoubtedly the production work he did on Jay Z's 'The Blueprint' – which is now thought of as one of hip-hops greatest albums.
Kanye has no problem shouting about the fact that no one would take him seriously as a recording artist, which was his real dream. Everyone saw him as a producer first and foremost and one big record deal actually fell through for 'Ye at the last minute. Although it was a low point in his career, the events shaped Kanye as an artist and personality.
When Kanye West fell asleep at the wheel after a long day of production he was involved in a near-fatal car crash that left him with a shattered draw which was wired shut in reconstructive surgery. The song inspired Kanye to write and record 'Through The Wire' which ended up being The College Dropout's lead single and a worldwide hit for 'Ye.
The way Kanye West reacted when his debut album 'The College Dropout' leaked months before its release date was a defining moment in his career. 'Ye used the negative to make a positive, deciding to use the opportunity to review the album and significantly remixing, remastering and revising it. The album release was then postponed three times before its release in August 2003.
The second single off his debut album 'Slow Jamz' featuring Twista and Jamie Foxx went on to become his first number one single for all three artists. It would be the first of many for Kanye. Picture: Getty
Finally, Kanye received the recognition he deserved when 'The College Dropout' won the 'Best Rap Album' Grammy in 2005, beating Jay Z, Nelly LL Cool J and Beastie Boys. That year he gained 10 Grammy nominations in total, with the album going triple platinum in the US and receiving critical acclaim amongst critics.
'Ye has a long history of controversy at award shows, the moment it began was when he lost the 'Best New Artist' title at the 2003 AMA's to country singer Gretchen Wilson. Kanye walked out of the awards and was quoted as saying backstage "I was the best new artist this year." It was the beginning of what would lead to Kanye to be known as one of the most egotistical – or self-assured, depending on how you see, artists ever.
Kanye West as long likened himself to Jesus, just look at the name of his most recent album and tour. But it all really kicked off when after the worldwide success of single 'Jesus Walks,' Kanye posed as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stones. West defended what some stained as ego, claiming "You want me to be great, but you don't ever want me to say I'm great?"
Kanye West went head to head with 50 Cent when both of their albums, 'Graduation' and 'Curtis' went head to head with the same release date in September 2007. 'Graduation' outsold 50's album by a large margin and debuted at number one in the US. Many critics dubbed the result as a defining moment in hip-hop, seeing 'Ye's style as avoiding the hardcore-gangster style as the beginning of a new direction for hip-hop. Picture: Getty
When 'Ye's mum Donda died unexpectedly in 2007 due to post plastic surgery complications Kanye described it as "like losing an arm and a leg and trying to walk." The emotions he went through following the horrendous event inspired his next album '808's And Heartbreak' and two days after the funeral, West went back on tour, dedicating his performance of 'Hey Mama' to his mother every night of the rest of the tour.
It's the moment that needs no introduction! The moment Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech when she won 'Best Female Video' at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards will be remembered as one of Kanye's career defining moments whether he wants it to or not!
'Watch The Throne' was one of the few major label albums in the internet age to avoid a leak because of its unique sales strategy. The album was released digitally weeks before the physical copies. The album debuted at number one and has been certified platinum.
Kanye and Jay Z took 'Watch The Throne' to the stage, performing 57 nights in the US, Canada and Europe between October 2011 and June 2012. The tour had a total gross of $75 million over those 57 shows, making it the highest-grossing hip-hop tour ever.
Released in June 2013 'Yeezus' received rave reviews from critics and continued 'Ye's number one album streak. Off the back of its success Kanye West decided to embark on his first solo tour in five years.
To support 'Bound 2' Kanye released a controversial video which saw a topless Kim Kardashian, topless riding on a motorbike with West through various landscapes. The video has had over 36 million views on YouTube and was famously (and hilariously) parodied by Seth Rogan and James Franco.