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Kanye West

Real name: Kanye Omari West
Birthdate: N/A
Status: Single


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West was born in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived with both of his parents. "Kanye" means "the only one" in Swahili. When he was three years old (as mentioned in "Homecoming") his parents divorced, and he and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. His father was Ray West, a former Black Panther who was one of the first black photojournalists at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and is now a Christian counselor. Kanye's mother, Dr. Donda West, worked as the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as Kanye's manager. He was raised in an upper middle class background, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois.

West has said that Wu-Tang Clan producer RZA influenced him in his style, and has said on numerous occasions that Wu-Tang rappers Ghostface and Ol' Dirty Bastard were some of his all-time favorites. Said by Kanye West: "Wu-Tang? Me and my friends talk about this all the time… We think Wu-Tang had one of the biggest impacts as far as a movement. From slang to style of dress, skits, the samples. Similar to the style I use, RZA has been doing that."

On March 25, 2007, Kanye and his father Ray West supported World Water Day by having a "Walk for Water" rally.

On August 22, 2005, the MTV special All Eyes On Kanye West aired, in which West spoke out against homophobia in hip-hop, claiming that hip-hop has always been about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people". He then reflected on a personal experience. He said that he had a "turning point" when he realized one of his cousins was gay. He said regarding this experience: "This is my cousin. I love him and I've been discriminating against gays." He went on to say that "not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates against gay people ... I wanna just come on TV, and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, 'Yo, stop it'". He also drew comparison between African Americans' struggle for civil rights and today's gay rights movement. The following year, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, West further expounded his experiences with and views on the relationship between the black and gay communities:

I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'they're looting'. You see a white family, it says, 'they're looking for food'. And, you know, it's been five days because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV, because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what's, what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was, if I was down there, and those are, those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help—with the set up, the way America is set up to help, the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, this is, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way—and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!


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