The college dropout: The story of the Internet’s most criticized rapper of the 21st century


Erin Martin, Herald Staff

Before music production, Kanye was enrolled in Chicago State University where he lived with his late mother Donda. Eventually, Kanye dropped out of college to pursue a career in music. West’s mother told Kanye that he had one year to make it in the music industry before forcing him to go back to school. Kanye’s first album, “College dropout,” took four years to produce before it hit the ears of listeners. 

In 03,’  Kanye’s album “Slow Jamz” in collaboration with artists Twista and Jamie Foxx rose to #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, where it remained for 22 weeks. Since then, West has struggled to keep his name out of the mainstream spectacle, releasing songs such as “Gold Digger,” “Stronger” and “Heartless.” Additionally, he has worked with the likes of T-Pain, Lil Wayne and long term mentor Jay-Z. 

Kanye, who was born in Atlanta GA and raised in Chicago IL, started as a producer. In 1996, he produced eight tracks on Chicago based rapper Grav’s debut album titled “Down to Earth” when he was just 19 years old. 

Kanye’s musical success was inevitable, being taken under the wing of rapper Jay-Z after producing a song for Beanie Sigel. The up-and-coming artist worked under Jay-Z’s joined “Roc-A-Fella Records.” 

Jay-Z quickly took a liking to the then 23 year old Kanye, making him a prime producer for the label artists. He would continue collaborating with Jay-Z, releasing countless more projects together. In 2011, the joint album titled “Watch the throne” was praised by critics and fans alike. 

Despite Jay-Z helping launch Kanye’s career, the pair started butting heads as early as the 2009 VMA awards when West appeared on the stage as Taylor swift was claiming her award for Best female video. During this encounter, West dragged in Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce, stating that she should have won the award rather than Swift. 

The feud between the two ignited again when Jay-Z and Beyonce chose not to go to the wedding of Kim and Kanye. The final nail in the coffin for Ye was when Jay-Z did not go visit him and Kim after a robbery in Paris. Despite all this, in 2018 Jay-Z referred to the rapper as his “little brother” stating, “Really, My little brother is Kanye. And like {with} your little brother, things happen sometimes” This came after Jay-z said the two had a “brotherly rivalry.”

Before sparking a flame with Keeping up with the Kardashian star Kim Kardashian, Kanye was in a six year relationship with actor and fashion designer Alexis Phifer. The pair got engaged in 2006 but cut ties in 2008 after the death of West’s mother, which took a toll on his emotional health.

After the breakup, Kanye found it hard for himself to find a meaningful connection with other females. However, that changed in April of 2012 when Kanye and Kim started dating. The two met on a music video set for the artist Brandy in 2003, although they were not officially friends until 2008. Furthermore, Kim started dating former NBA player Kris Humphries, marrying him in 2011 and then separating just 72 days later. 

For Kanye, the separation was an opportunity for him to invite Kim to his fashion show in Paris, where they started dating. In the Spring of 2012, Kanye put his love into a song, releasing “Cold” which contained lyrics such as “ And I’ll admit, I had fell in love with Kim/Around the same time she had fell in love with him/Well that’s cool, baby girl, do ya thang/Lucky I ain’t had Jay drop him from the team.”  A few months later, the couple found out that Kim was pregnant with their first child, North West.

The couple would go on to host their European wedding on May 24, 2014. Additionally, they had 3 more children together. 

Divorce rumors began circulating in early 2021, with the Internet exploding with various rumors. Kim was in training to be a lawyer while her husband was engaging in questionable activities. Eventually, Kim had enough. The pair officially split in 2022 when Kim was declared legally single. Kanye did not take the divorce easily. In 2022 kanye released “Eazy”  in which he raps about life. The song has a lyric where he says “we havin’ the best divorce ever. If we go to court, we’ll go to court together/Matter of fact, pick up your sis, we’ll go to Kourt’s together,” referring to his divorce with Kardashian and referencing her sisters. 

Over his over 20 year music career, Kanye has had various hits. Many new-age artists have taken influence from his music, most notably with the release of 808’s & heartbreak. Originally, the album was received harshly by critics due to the heavy use of autotune. However, the album eventually found its popularity with a more niche group of people. 

The album focused on the loss of his mother Donda and subsequently, his break up with his then fiance, Alexis Phifer. West showcased his pain and emotions in the music as he did in 808’s and heartbreak. Artists such as Drake, Travis Scott and Juice WRLD have all credited Kanye as a major influence towards their music career.  

Despite Kanye’s influential career, the artist has found himself in a lot of controversy. His first major public controversy was at the 2009 VMAs. Shortly thereafter, his comments about slavery, relationship with former president Donald Trump, and multiple other scandals have also propelled him into the spotlight. More recently, Kanye has found himself in hot water for multiple racist and offensive sentiments. 

At West’s Yeezy Season 9 runway, he was seen with Candance Owens wearing matching “White Lives Matter” shirts. Because of this, Kanye found himself under fire from the media, saying on Instagram, “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s (sic) over. You’re welcome.” 

At this point, West was quickly banned from both Twitter and Instagram, so he had to rely on Tiktok and Facebook to push his ideologies. 

On October 6th and 7th, an interview between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Ye premiered. Within this interview, West did not try to diminish his name from scrutiny. When Carlson asked Kanye about the shirt he was wearing, West explained that “It just represents life. I am pro-life.”  

In the past, Kanye spoke about his bipolar disorder struggles with David Letterman, saying, “When you’re in this state, you’re hyper-paranoid about everything, everyone. This is my experience, other people have different experiences. Everyone now is an actor. Everything’s a conspiracy.”  

After the airing of this video, many people took to Twitter to write about their frustration with the rapper. Instead of responding to the drama, Kanye largely ignored the posts.

Only two months after his divorce with Kardashian, Kanye was spotted with architect designer Bianca Censori. The two have been spotted together numerous times in public. Kim broke down into tears while explaining her co-parent situation with West claiming that, “It’s been a day for me. It’s hard. Co-parenting is really…hard.”