There are few stars that shine brighter than Kanye West. Since the release of 2004 debut College Dropout, Kanye has ruled the charts: with more than 30 million paid-for downloads, last year he was named one of the ten best-selling digital artists ever. Now firmly established as part of hip-hop royalty, thanks in part to 2011’s super-collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, West returns to the UAE next week. Ahead of the gig at Abu Dhabi’s du Arena, we round up the need-to-know facts about the man they call Yeezy (among other things).
In 2002 he was involved in a car crash that meant he had to have a metal plate put in his chin.
While still in hospital he requested an electronic drum machine so he could continue composing. His debut single ‘Through the Wire’ got its name because during recording he had to sing with a wire brace around his jaw as a result of his accident.
Over the years he’s adopted (or has been given) various monikers.
Nicknames include Konman, Ye, the Louis Vuitton Don and even Martin Louis the King Jnr. The name Kanye means ‘the only one’ in Swahili.
He runs his own record label, GOOD Music.
It stands for Getting Out Our Dreams) Music, and has the likes of John Legend, Kid Cudi and Common on its roster.
His career hasn’t always been glamorous.
Before he was a star Kanye once worked as a telemarketer selling credit card insurance.
He’s reported to be worth more than Dhs275 million.
Following his early success, he bought himself an 18th-century aquarium containing 30 koi fish. It reportedly features a cherub-shaped gold fountain on a marble base in the centre.
He does his bit for charity.
West is putting a signed and worn pair of his Nike Air Yeezy II sneakers up for auction to raise funds for the Re/Create New York charity, which is helping with the ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief. An original non-signed, non-worn pair recently sold for Dhs330,000.
Last year his second short film, Cruel Summer, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
The screening’s unusual setup featured seven screens to show the same shot from different angles simultaneously. Shot in Qatar, producer-director-star West also considered using the UAE as a location. He starred alongside ‘the first Qatari female to star in a movie’.
He’s visited the UAE a couple of times already.
Kanye performed at Dubai’s Desert Rhythm Festival in 2007 (pictured above), returning to the UAE in 2010 to open the after-race concerts at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He tweeted to fans: ‘Stage in Abu Dhabi… Craze!’ While in the UAE, he had the chance to experience what he called ‘Abu Dhabi hobbies’, including ‘skydiving, dune buggies, vintage jewellery and the fastest rollercoaster’.
He’s pretty popular on Twitter.
As @kanyewest he has more than nine million followers, sharing insights such as ‘You can’t look at a glass half full or empty if it’s overflowing’, ‘Some people have really big foreheads. Not in a bad way’ and ‘Classical music is tight yo’.
Kanye West plays du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, on Thursday January 31. Tickets, Dhs295-695, plus VIP packages. www.thinkflash.ae (800 35274).