Controversial Facts About Kanye West

October 22, 2023 | Miles Brucker

Controversial Facts About Kanye West

Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy. An icon of contemporary music, The Guardian once called him the David Bowie of “modern mainstream” music. Not without his flaws, Kanye is a living embodiment of the modern day celebrity and lives his life as one large performance piece, with his heart hanging out on his sleeve. Here are 42 of the craziest facts about the controversial musical genius.

1. Stuntman Suit

After coming across the video for Kanye’s hit “Touch The Sky,” Evel Knievel sued the artist for the use of his image because in the video, West dons the persona “Evel Kanyevel". While originally upset with the use of his name, Knievel decided to drop the lawsuit and settle it in a friendly manner after meeting with Kanye. Knievel was actually quite fond of Kanye, saying that he “thought he was a wonderful guy and quite a gentleman".


2. Flee The Country

One of Kanye’s most infamous moments was his MTV VMA interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. After this incident, Kanye became a pariah, and fellow rapper Mos Def advised him to leave the United States and settle somewhere else to clear his head and get away from the media. Kanye followed the advice, traveling around the world before finally settling in Hawaii, where he would go on to record his magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Taylor Swift FactsGetty Images

3. Outspoken Kanye

Kanye founded the Kanye West Foundation with his mother in 2003, and to this day continues to provide philanthropic support to low-income communities throughout the United States. Although, many people would consider his most famous community service effort to be the time he said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on live TV during the benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Kanye West FactsShutterstock

4. Streaming Success

Kanye West holds the digital age distinction of being the first artist to go platinum strictly from streaming, with the release of his album The Life of Pablo.

Best Moments of the Decade FactsWikimedia Commons

5. Distinguished Artist

Given his rants, it might be a surprise to find out that Kanye West has won 21 Grammy awards from 68 Grammy nominations, making him the eleventh most awarded musical artist in Grammy history.

Kanye West FactsGetty Images


Kanye West’s creative agency company is named DONDA, after his mother. The company was a dream come true for him, and he decided to name it in honor of his mother, who sadly succumbed to complications after undergoing plastic surgery in 2007. Kanye's life began spiraling out of control after his mother's passing, reaching a peak with a highly public breakdown on stage during a performance in Paris.

John Legend FactsShutterstock


7. New Law

As a result of Donda West's passing, California put into place the "Donda West Law." This law was signed in by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and made medical clearance mandatory for all cosmetic surgery procedures.

GettyImages-53317307 Governor SchwarzeneggerGetty Images

8. Conception and Consummation

When Kim and Kanye had to make a decision about where their marriage should be, it was an easy one: Florence, Italy. What made it such an easy decision was that Florence was where they conceived their first child, North.

Lana Del Rey FactsGetty Images

9. The Bear

Ever wondered if Kanye gave a name to the bear that was the mascot for his first three albums? Well, of course, he did! The bear's name is Dropout.

Kanye West FactsFlickr

10. Extravagant Fish

The first extravagant gift that West rewarded himself with after The College Dropout became a hit was a giant aquarium. The aquarium was from the 18th century and included a golden cherub fountain resting on a marble base, filled with 30 koi fish.

Drive-thru workersPexels


11. Hometown

Though he counts Chicago as his hometown, Kanye Omari West was actually born in Atlanta and spent the first three years of his life there, before moving to Chicago with his mother.

Millie Bobby Brown factsPixabay

12. Net Worth

Kanye is estimated to be worth $145 million.

Kim Kardashian FactsGetty Images

13. What’s Your Opinion

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the stuff of hip-hop folklore by now, but its creative process was one of wide-spread collaboration. When food delivery men would show up to the studio, West would often play them some tracks and ask for their opinion.

Kanye West FactsFlickr

14. Sense Of Humor

Given his status as a King of Twitter (specifically, Twitter's strange side), it's no wonder Kanye has a good gut feel for how internet culture works.

Kanye knew he was creating a meme-in-the-making when he filmed the music video for his song “Bound 2” in 2013, and when he saw what Seth Rogen and James Franco did with their spoof, he invited them to perform their comedic take on it at his wedding to Kim Kardashian.

Kanye West FactsShutterstock

15. Not The Best Idea

After some reflection, everyone involved realized that it was simply too ridiculous of an idea, and they sadly did not perform their take on the video at the West-Kardashian wedding.

Kanye West FactsFlickr

16. Surprise Drummer

During an impromptu trip to visit Kanye in the studio, famed film and music video director Michel Gondry somehow ended up playing drums on the track “Diamonds from Sierra Leone". The two would collaborate again in the future, as Gondry would go on to direct the video from Kanye’s song “Heard ‘Em Say".

Kanye West FactsWikimedia Commons

17. Mistaken Identity

Kanye once faced detainment for pilfering printers from a branch of the former Office Max chain. Kanye alleges that he was singled out due to his appearance - a black man with braids wearing a white t-shirt - and detained in 2000 on charges of stealing printers. The law enforcement report was even manipulated by the authorities to match the description of Kanye, who had, by that time, already established himself as a successful producer.

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18. The Only One

Let’s admit it. Kanye is a pretty good name. Credit goes not just to his parents, but to the Swahili language, which the name comes from, meaning “the only one". His middle name Omari is also Swahili, meaning “God the highest".

Kanye West speaks with his hands crossed placed at the chest with black shirt and red hatConsolidated News Photos, Shutterstock

19. Beat Breaks

The first beat that Kanye successfully sold was for $8,000 to Gravity, a Chicago rapper. Shortly after this, he moved to New Jersey so that he could be close to New York and pitch his demos to studios. He then got a big break by selling his second beat to Jermaine Dupri, for the track “Life in 1462".

Kanye West FactsShutterstock

20. How To Get Signed

After gaining momentum as a producer in the rap world, Kanye wanted to make music for himself, not just other artists. As a college educated, pink polo wearing guy in a world dominated by gangsta rap, Jay-Z was incredibly skeptical of signing him, so Kanye resorted to pestering the star for an opportunity. But, it wasn’t until Kanye was about to secure a deal with Capitol records that Jay finally stepped in and signed him.

Jay-Z factsShutterstock

21. The Parents

Kanye’s parents were both intellectuals. His father, Ray West, was an activist with the Black Panthers during the Civil Rights era before becoming one of the first black photojournalists in the country. His mother, Donda, made her career as an English Professor and went on to become the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University.

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22. Motherly Duties

While she making a good living for herself as a professor, Donda would eventually retire so that she could commit herself to working as her son's manager.

Kanye West FactsGetty Images

23. Kanye In China

When Kanye was only 10 years old, his mother participated in a teaching exchange program in Nanjing, China. This meant that Kanye, whose parents had split when he was three years old, went to live with his mom in China. Kanye was a fast learner, picking up Chinese in the time he lived there, however, he has since lost most of his ability, because if you don’t use it, you will indeed lose it.

Kanye West FactsPixy

24. Dr. Kanye Suess

Kanye began writing poetry at five years old and started rapping in the third grade. It was around this time, in the third grade, that his mother noticed his talent, and when he was 13, she supported him in recording his first rap song. The name of the song 13-year-old Kanye recorded? Why, what could it be besides “Green Eggs and Ham".

Furious Students FactsPxfuel

25. First Machine

It was at the ripe age of 15 that Kanye received his first sampler, and began messing around with the craft that would go on to make him an international superstar.

Kanye West FactsGetty Images

26. New I.D.

No I.D. is one of hip-hop's most legendary producers, and Kanye was fortunate to cross paths with the legend when he was in his teens. The two struck up a close friendship, and No I.D. would serve as one of Kanye's first mentors in the rap world.

Kanye West FactsGetty Images


27. Momma’s Connections

But wait, how did the two hip-hop juggernauts meet? Well, both of their mothers worked together as teachers in Chicago. No I.D. was 19 at the time that he met Donda, who put in work to convince him to teach her 14-year-old son Kanye about music.

Robert Johnson FactsShutterstock

28. Car Crash Trajectory

Kanye rose to fame with his debut single “Through The Wire” in 2004. The track would prove to be a new direction for rap music, as Kanye came up with the idea to tell more nuanced stories about life after surviving a devastating car crash. When No I.D. visited him in the hospital, Kanye told him he had an epiphany to rap about the accident and change the direction of his music by becoming more conscious.

Kanye West FactsFlickr

29. Through The Wire

Kanye was so inspired by his accident that he didn’t wait until he was healed to record the track. Instead, he proved his merit by rapping the song while his mouth was still wired shut.

Kanye West FactsShutterstock

30. College Dropout

Kanye was interested in painting in his youth and he originally attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1997, where he studied painting on a scholarship. It wasn’t long before he decided to instead transfer to his mother’s workplace, Chicago State University, and study English. However, this again was short-lived, as Kanye would famously dropout at the age of 20 because he felt college took too much time away from making music.

Seymour Fleming FactsShutterstock

31. Blueprint Producer

It is interesting that Jay-Z didn’t originally trust Kanye enough to sign him as a rapper, because if it wasn’t for Kanye, Jay wouldn’t have been able to produce what is considered his greatest album, The Blueprint. Kanye produced 5 of the 13 tracks that appeared on the landmark album.

Jay ZWikimedia

32. Help With Rent

Donda West was hard on Kanye growing up, and she once demanded that he help with the rent while they were living together, so he was forced to take a job as a telemarketer early in his musical career.

Clueless People FactsPikist

33. Dr. West

Even though he dropped out of college, Kanye eventually would receive an honorary doctorate from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Kanye West FactsGetty Images

34. Yeezy The Perfectionist

“Stronger” was one of Kanye’s greatest hits, but he put in some serious work for it. In order to create the song, he had eight audio engineers and 11 mix engineers work on the song for months, mixing the song 75 times in order to get the proper effect he wanted.

Kanye West Facts

35. Working With Others

Kanye is known to be a prolific collaborator, and it shows in the credits of his albums. Over 50% of his released tracks have been a collaboration with other artists.

50 Cent FactsGetty Images

36. Biggest Fan

It may come as a surprise, but Kanye’s favorite musical artist is Fiona Apple. He even sought out her producer in order to make songs that were “like the rap version” of Apple.

Kanye West FactsWikimedia Commons

37. Dream Job

Music may have been Kanye’s passion, but that didn’t stop him from dreaming. The star confessed that he pondered over fulfilling his dream of entering the explicit content industry several times.

Kanye West FactsShutterstock

38. Superior To Intimacy

Kanye is also on record saying that the greatest pleasure in his life is finally finishing a song in post-production, noting that he finds it even more enjoyable than intimate encounters. This explains why he didn't actually pursue a career in the adult entertainment industry. It doesn't explain why he believes God gave him a $68 million tax refund.

Kanye West FactsShutterstock

39. Losing A Mother

Kanye West shared a profound bond with his mother Donda, and his whole universe was profoundly impacted when she abruptly left this world. Even more heartbreakingly, the coroner's report disclosed sorrowful details about her mysterious disappearance. Officially, Donda succumbed to a pre-existing coronary artery disease. Additionally, she had recently finished several cosmetic surgeries which led to further complications at the time of her passing. There have always been inquiries about whether medical experts could have provided more assistance to her. Immediately following her departure, Kanye expressed to a magazine, "If I had never moved to L.A. she'd still be with us." Heartbreakingly, he continued "I don't want to go far into it because it will bring me to tears."

Kanye West FactsShutterstock


40. Seeing Music

Kanye is affected by a sensory phenomenon known as synesthesia, which means that when one sense is stimulated, a second cognitive pathway is opened up involuntarily, leading to a multi-sensory experience when working in art. Put simply: music makes Kanye see colors. Other artists as diverse as Vladimir Nabokov, Wassily Kandinsky, Nikola Tesla, Aphex Twin, and Pharrell Williams have claimed to have the condition.

Kanye West FactsShutterstock

41. Legendary Fans

Michael Jackson was known to be an admirer of Kanye. Not only did he like his music, but he was a big fan of Kanye’s fashion sense, and after seeing the video for “Stronger” he called the rapper to ask him about the jacket he wore in it. For Kanye's part, witnesses who were there when the rapper first met Jackson say that Kanye was instantly humbled, gushing, and starstruck. As one witness relates, "The whole time, Kanye was like a kid in a candy store. I've never seen somebody be so humble. To see him that way was surreal. Everybody knows that Kanye can be very arrogant, and here he was, just amazed to be in the same room as Mr. Jackson."

Michael Jackson FactsShutterstock

42. To Get A Sample

Chaka Khan originally declined to clear her sample for “Through The Wire,” so Kanye took an alternative route in order to get the clearance. Soon after her refusal, he brought Khan’s son to a BBQ and played the track for him and two weeks later...ta-da! the sample was cleared. You know the phrase "You earn more flies with honey?" Well, you earn even more with delicious BBQ.

Kanye West FactsGetty Images

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

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