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Who is Kanye Omari West? The entertainment and rap world know Kanye West as an American rapper, singer, and record producer. West first rose to fame as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, where he eventually achieved recognition for his work on Jay-Z‘s album The Blueprint, as well as hit singles for musical artists including Alicia Keys, Ludacris, and Janet Jackson. His style of production originally used pitched-up vocal samples from soul songs incorporated with his own drums and instruments. However, subsequent productions saw him broadening his musical palette and expressing influences encompassing ’70s R&B, baroque pop, trip hop, arena rock, folk, alternative, electronica, synth-pop, and classical music.
West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004, his second album Late Registration in 2005, his third album Graduation in 2007, his fourth album 808s & Heartbreak in 2008, and his fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. His five albums have received numerous awards, including a cumulative twelve Grammys, and critical acclaim. All have been very commercially successful, with 808s & Heartbreak becoming his third consecutive #1 album in the U.S. upon release. West also runs his own record label GOOD Music, home to artists such John Legend, Common and Kid Cudi. West’s mascot and trademark is “Dropout Bear,” a teddy bear which has appeared on the covers of three of his five albums as well as various single covers and music videos. About.com ranked Kanye West #8 on their “Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers” list. On May 16, 2008, Kanye West was crowned by MTV as the year’s #1 “Hottest MC in the Game.”
Kanye West was born June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived with his parents. When he was three years old, 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. West’s mother, Dr. Donda West, was a Professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as West’s manager. He was raised in a middle-class background, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois after living in Chicago. West credits his feminine nature to being raised by his mother. When asked about his grades in high school, West replied, “I got A’s and B’s. And I’m not even frontin'”.
West attended art classes at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and also enrolled at Chicago State University, but dropped out to focus on his music career. While attending school, West produced for local artists. He later gained fame by producing hit singles for major hip hop/R&B artists, including Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Cam’ron, Paul Wall, Common, Mobb Deep, Jermaine Dupri, Scarface, The Game, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, John Legend among others. He also “ghost-produced” for his mentor Deric Angelettie, according to his song “Last Call” and the credits of Nas‘ “Poppa Was a Playa”.
Early career (1996–2003)
Kanye West’s first career productions came on Chicago rapper Grav’s 1996 debut album Down to Earth. West produced eight tracks on the album. While the album didn’t attract much attention and would be the only album released by Grav, West would soon be producing for higher profile artists. In 1998-1999 he produced for well known artists such as Jermaine Dupri, Foxy Brown, Goodie Mob, and the group Harlem World.
West got his big break in the year 2000 however when he began to produce for artists on Roc-a-Fella Records. He produced the well received Jay-Z song “This Can’t Be Life” off of the album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. West would later state that to create the beat for “This Can’t Be Life” he sped up the drum beat from Dr. Dre‘s song “Xxplosive”.
After producing for Jay-Z earlier, West’s sound was featured heavily on Jay-Z‘s critically acclaimed album The Blueprint, released on September 11, 2001. His work was featured on the lead single “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” and a diss track against Nas and Mobb Deep named “Takeover“; West has worked with Mobb Deep and Nas since the track’s release.
After meeting great commercial success and critical acclaim for his productions on The Blueprint, West became a sought after producer in the hip-hop industry, even before he became known as a rapper and solo artist. In the years 2002-2003 he would produce for artists such as Nas, Scarface, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, T.I., Ludacris, DMX, and Monica. He also continued producing for Roc-a-Fella Records artists and contribued four tracks to Jay-Z‘s follow up album to The Blueprint, The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse.
After great successes as a producer, West now looked to pursue a career as a rapper and solo artist, but struggled to find a way to get a record deal. Chris Anokute, then A&R at Def Jam, said that when West regularly dropped by the office to pick up his producer checks he would play demos of solo material to Anokute in his cubicle and bemoan the fact that no one was taking him seriously as a rapper. Jay-Z admitted that Roc-A-Fella was initially reluctant to support West as a rapper, claiming that he saw him as a producer first and foremost.Multiple record companies felt he was not as marketable as rappers who portray the “street image” prominent in hip hop culture. Beginning his career as a rapper, Kanye West rapped a verse on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse, an album he produced for, from the same label he was signed to as a rapper.
The College Dropout (2004)
On October 23, 2002, West was involved in a near fatal car crash while driving home from the recording studio. The crash provided inspiration for West’s first single, “Through the Wire“. West’s faith is apparent in many of his songs, such as “Jesus Walks“, which became a staple at his benefit performances, such as the Live 8 concert. These songs were featured on West’s debut album, The College Dropout, which was released on Roc-A-Fella Records in February 2004, and went on to receive critical acclaim. The album also defined the style for which West would become known, including wordplay and sampling. The album was eventually certified triple platinum. Guest appearances included Jay-Z, Ludacris, GLC, Consequence, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Common, and Syleena Johnson. The album also featured the singles, “All Falls Down“ and “The New Workout Plan“, as well as Twista’s number one single, “Slow Jamz“. During 2003 West also co-produced songs for British singer Javine Hylton, even appearing in the music video to Real Things playing the love interest of Javine.
West was involved in a financial dispute over Royce Da 5’9″‘s song “Heartbeat”, produced by West and released on Build & Destroy: The Lost Sessions. West maintains that Royce never paid for the beat, but recorded to it and released it; hearing him on the beat, the original customers decided not to buy it from West. After the disagreement, West vowed to never work with Royce again. Other Kanye West-produced hit singles during the period The College Dropout was released included “I Changed My Mind” by Keyshia Cole, “Overnight Celebrity” by Twista and “Talk About Our Love” by Brandy.
Late Registration (2005)
Taking a more eclectic route, West collaborated with American film score composer Jon Brion to construct his second album, Late Registration, which was released on August 30, 2005. Like its predecessor, the sophomore effort garnered universal acclaim from music critics. Late Registration topped countless critic polls and was revered as the best album of the year by numerous publications, including USA Today, Spin, and Time. Rolling Stone awarded the album the highest position on their end of the year record list and hailed it as a “sweepingly generous, absurdly virtuosic hip-hop classic.” The record earned the number one spot on the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics’ poll of 2005 for the second consecutive year. Late Registration was also a commercial success, selling over 860,000 copies in its first week alone and topping the Billboard 200. Grossing over 2.3 million units sold in the United States alone by year’s end, Late Registration was considered by industry observers as the sole majorly successful album release of the fall of 2005, a season that was plagued by steadily declining CD sales. The sophomore album earned eight Grammy Award nominations including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for the song “Gold Digger”. The album is certified triple platinum.
On August 22, 2005, the MTV special All Eyes On Kanye West aired, in which West spoke out against homophobia in hip-hop. He claimed 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 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.
In September 2005, West announced that he would release his Pastelle Clothing line in spring 2006: “Now that I have a Grammy under my belt and Late Registration is finished, I am ready to launch my clothing line next spring.” The current status of this project is unknown. In that year, West produced the hit singles “Go” by Common and “Dreams” by The Game.
In 2007, it was announced that West would be starring in a series directed by Larry Charles. He has been working on the pilot episode for the past two years with Larry Charles and Rick Rubin. He also had this to say on January 14: “I wouldn’t do something as cliché as a reality show. At least give me the credit for being more creative than that. It’s a situational half-hour comedy. It’s fictional, and loosely based on my life. ” West also collaborated with Japanese hip-hop group Teriyaki Boyz to produce the single “I Still Love H.E.R.,” a reference to Common’s 1994 single “I Used to Love H.E.R.“. Further to this, during a radio appearance in early 2007, West, like many of his peers, recorded an impromptu freestyle to the popular song “Throw Some D’s.” The song that to all other rappers was about automobile rims, was used by West to comically refer to D-cup breasts. Because of the unexpected success of the song, West went on to make a video for the freestyle, in which he is seen playing his ‘Old Ass Cousin’.
West was also featured in a new song called “Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been)”. It was believed to be a single for, Graduation, because he is featured on the track, but Nike quickly explained that it was for the Nike Air Force 1’s anniversary. It was meant only to be an exclusive track for the company.
On March 25, 2007, he and his father Ray West supported World Water Day by having a “Walk for Water” rally. After a two-year break, West has returned to being a fashion columnist in lifestyle magazine Complex. On July 7, 2007, West performed with The Police and John Mayer at the American leg of Live Earth. West hosted the August 17 edition of British comedy- variety show The Friday Night Project.
In July 2007, West changed the release date of Graduation, his third album, from September 18, 2007, to the same release date as 50 Cent’s album Curtis, September 11, 2007. 50 Cent later claimed that if Graduation were to sell more records than Curtis, he would stop releasing solo albums. However, 50 Cent would later dispel his comments. The album has been certified double platinum. Guest appearances included T-Pain, Mos Def, and Lil Wayne.
|“||When I hear that thing about the debate, I thought that was the stupidest thing. When my albums drops and 50’s album drops, you’re gonna get a lot of good music at the same time.||”|
On August 26, 2007, West appeared as himself on the HBO television show Entourage which he used as a platform to premier his new single “Good Life” during the end credits. On September 9, 2007, West performed at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, losing in every category he was nominated for; he gave an angry speech immediately afterward. (see “Controversies” section)
Following the MTV stint, West was nominated in eight Grammy Award categories for the 50th annual Grammy Awards. He won four of them, including Best Rap Album for Graduation and Best Rap Solo Performance for “Stronger” from Graduation. During the four-hour televised Grammy Awards ceremony, West also performed two songs: “Stronger” (with Daft Punk) and “Hey Mama” (in honor of his recently deceased mother).
Glow in the Dark Tour, 808s & Heartbreak (2008–09)
West kicked off the Glow In The Dark Tour in Seattle at the Key Arena on April 16. The tour was originally scheduled to end in June in Cincinnati but was extended into August. Over the course of the tour West was joined by a varying group of opening acts, including Lupe Fiasco, Rihanna, N.E.R.D., DJ Craze, and Gnarls Barkley. On June 15, West was scheduled to perform a late night set at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. His performance started almost two hours late and ran for half of its alloted time, angering many fans in the audience. West later wrote an outraged entry on his blog, blaming the festival organizers as well as Pearl Jam‘s preceding set, which ran longer than expected.
On September 7, West debuted a new song “Love Lockdown“ at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. “Love Lockdown” features no rapping and only singing using an auto-tune device. This song appears on West’s fourth studio album, 808s & Heartbreak. The new album was expected to be released on December 16, but West announced on his blog on September 24, 2008, that he had finished the album and would be releasing it sometime in November, earlier than previously scheduled. In early October, West made a surprise appearance at a T.I. concert in Los Angeles, where he stated that 808s & Heartbreak was scheduled to be released on November 25, though it was actually released on the 24th, and that the second single is “Heartless“. The album was another number one album for West, even though the first week numbers fell well short of Graduation with 450,145 sold.
Along with Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Leona Lewis, and others, West performed at the American Music Awards ceremony on November 23. That same night he won two AMA awards, including Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for Graduation and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Male Artist. West performed at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August 2008, along with Wyclef Jean and N.E.R.D. in support of Barack Obama. On January 20, 2009, Kanye West performed at the Youth Inaugural Ball hosted by MTV for Obama’s inauguration.
On February 17, 2009, West was named one of Top 10 Most Stylish Men in America by GQ. The next day, February 18, 2009, West won International Male Solo Artist at The Brit Awards 2009. West was not in attendance but accepted his award with a video speech, saying “Barack is the ‘Best Interracial Male’ but I’m proud to be the Best International Male in the world.
In April 2009, Kanye West recorded a song called “Hurricane” with 30 Seconds to Mars to appear on their album This Is War, but was not released due to legal issues with both record companies. 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto has said that it will be released at some point.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010–present)
In May 2010, West made an animated television guest appearance on Fox‘s animated television series The Cleveland Show (a spin-off of Family Guy) as the voice behind “Kenny West”, a rival of Cleveland Brown‘s son. In his first episode he performed in a rap battle with Cleveland’s son. The producers stated working with West was a very good experience and a reason they chose him was because they knew he was a fan of Family Guy. Kenny West re-appeared in the season 2 premiere of The Cleveland Show.
West spent the first half of 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii, working on his new album with the working title “Good Ass Job”, later named My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, released on November 22, 2010. West has cited Maya Angelou, Gil Scott-Heron and Nina Simone as his musical inspirations for this album. Outside production is said to come from RZA, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. West also had Justin Vernon flown into his studio on Oahu after seemingly expressing interest in sampling one of Bon Iver‘s songs; Vernon proceeded to feature on a number of new tracks, including “Lost In The World,” which features Vernon’s vocal line from Woods.
On May 28, the Dwele-assisted first single from the album, entitled “Power“, leaked to the Internet. On June 30, the track was officially released via iTunes. The upcoming music video was quoted as being “apocalyptic, in a very personal way” by the director Marco Brambilla.
On September 12, 2010, West performed a new song, “Runaway” featuring Pusha T, at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Shortly after the performance, Kanye revealed he was working on a 35 minute short film based around the song. The movie is said to be influenced by film noir and concerns a fallen phoenix whom Kanye falls in love with. The short film debuted consecutively on VH1, MTV, and BET on October 23, 2010.
Watch My Throne, an upcoming collaborative studio album by West and Jay-Z, is scheduled to be released by Def Jam Recordings in 2011. It has been under production since August 2010 as part of West’s GOOD Friday initiative of releasing new songs every Friday between August 20 and Christmas 2010. West said through a recent interview with MTV that the album is “going to be very dark and sexy, like couture hip hop. He appeared at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing the track “Lost in the World” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Kanye West and designer Alexis Phifer ended their 18-month engagement in 2008. The couple had been dating on and off since 2002, with West eventually proposing in August 2006. According to a friend, the couple’s relationship had been straining, significantly influenced by the sheer amount of time and attention West was dedicating to his current concert tour. “It’s always sad when things like this end, and we remain friends,” Phifer told People.
West was also in a high profile on/off relationship with Amber Rose from 2008 until the summer of 2010.
On November 10, 2007, West’s mother, Donda West, died of complications from cosmetic surgery involving abdominoplasty and breast augmentation TMZ reported that Beverly Hills physician Andre Aboolian had advised Donda West not to have surgery because of a health condition that placed her at risk for a heart attack. Aboolian referred her to another internist. Donda never met with the doctor recommended by Aboolian and had the procedures performed by a third doctor, Jan Adams.
Adams sent condolences to Donda West’s family but declined to publicly discuss the procedure because of confidentiality. He had previously been under scrutiny by the medical board. Adams appeared on Larry King Live on November 20, 2007 but left before speaking. Two days later, he appeared again, with his attorney, stating he was there to “defend himself.” He said that the recently released autopsy results “spoke for themselves”. The final coroner’s report January 10, 2008 concluded that Donda West died of “coronary artery disease and multiple post-operative factors due to or as a consequence of liposuction and mammoplasty.”
The funeral and burial for Donda West was held in Oklahoma City on November 20, 2007. West held his first concert following the funeral at The O2 in London on November 22. He dedicated a performance of “Hey Mama“, as well as a cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’“, to his mother, and did so on all other dates of his Glow in the Dark tour.
At a December 2008 press conference in New Zealand, West spoke about his mother’s death for the first time. “It was like losing an arm and a leg and trying to walk through that,” he told reporters.
In honor of her death, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passed the “Donda West Law,” a legislation which makes it mandatory for patients to provide medical clearance for elective cosmetic surgery.
Musical style and influences
At the start of his career, Kanye West’s production style often used pitched-up vocal samples, usually from soul songs, with his own drums and instruments. His first major release featuring his trademark vocal sampling style was “This Can’t Be Life”, a track from Jay-Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. West said he sped up the drum beat of Dr. Dre‘s “Xxplosive” to use as a replacement for his drums on “This Can’t Be Life”.
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 Killah and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were some of his all-time favorites, “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 [production] style I use, RZA has been doing that.”RZA himself has spoken quite positively of the comparisons, stating in an interview for Rolling Stone, “All good. I got super respect for Kanye. He came up to me about a year or two ago. He gave me mad praising and blessings… For people to say Wu-Tang inspire Kanye, Kanye is one of the biggest artists in the world. That goes back to what we say: ‘Wu-Tang is forever.’ Kanye is going to inspire people to be like him.” After hearing his work on The Blueprint, RZA claimed that a torch-passing had occurred between him and West, saying, “The shoes gotta be filled. If you ain’t gonna do it, somebody else is gonna do it. That’s how I feel about rap today.”
While his use of sampling has lessened over time, West’s production continues to feature distinctive and intricate string arrangements. This characteristic arose from him listening to the English trip hop group Portishead, whose 1998 live album Roseland NYC Live, with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra inspired him to incorporate string sections into his hip hop production. Though he was unable to afford live instruments beyond violin riffs provided by Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari around the time of his debut album, its subsequent commercial success allowed him to hire his very own eleven-piece string orchestra. For a time, West stood as the sole current pop star to tour with a string section.
West has stated on several occasions that outside of work, he favors listening to rock music over hip-hop. He cites Franz Ferdinand, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Killers as some of his most favorite musical groups. Additionally, on Graduation, West drew inspiration from arena rock bands such as U2, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin for melody and chord progression. Both a fan and supporter of indie culture, West uses his official website to promote obscure indie rock bands, posting up music videos and mp3s on a daily basis. This musical affinity is mutual, as West has collaborated with indie artists such as Santigold, Peter Bjorn and John and Lykke Li while his songs have gone on to be covered countless times by myriad rock bands.
In August 2008, West revealed plans to open 10 Fatburger restaurants in the Chicago area; the first was set to open in September 2008 in Orland Park. The second followed in January 2009, while a third location is yet to be revealed, although the process is being finalized. His company, KW Foods LLC, bought the rights to the chain in Chicago. Additionally, West planned to launch his fashion career, and applied for internships with major European fashion houses. He is due to release his own clothing line called Past Tell in 2009. He also collaborated with Nike to release his own shoe, Air Yeezys.
On January 22, 2009, during Paris Fashion Week, West introduced his first shoe line designed for Louis Vuitton. The line was released in summer 2009.
West started the “Kanye West Foundation” in Chicago in 2003. On August 24, 2007, West hosted the inaugural benefit concert to launch the foundation’s partnership with Strong American Schools. It is focused on helping Latino and African American children stay in school and to get a proper education through grade school, high school, and college. The foundation also helps children to stay in high school by finding a path through music. West has contributed over $500,000 to his foundation. The foundation has also been called the “Donda West Foundation”.
Kanye West has appeared and participated in many fundraisers, benefit concerts, and has done community work for Hurricane Katrina relief, the Kanye West Foundation, the Millions More Movement, 100 Black Men of America, a Live Earth concert benefit, World Water Day rally and march, Nike runs, and a MTV special helping young Iraq War veterans who struggle through debt and PTSD a second chance after returning home.
West has had several controversies throughout his career. On September 2, 2005, during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief on NBC, A Concert for Hurricane Relief, West was a featured speaker. When West was presenting alongside actor Mike Myers, he deviated from the prepared script. Myers spoke next and continued to read the script. Once it was West’s turn to speak again, he said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” At this point, telethon producer Rick Kaplan cut off the microphone and then cut away to Chris Tucker, who was unaware of the cut for a few seconds. Still, West’s comment reached much of the United States. Bush stated in an interview that the comment was “one of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency.
In January 2006, West again sparked controversy when he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in the image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.
Later in 2006, West had his first of a number of incidents involving music award events. After the 2006 Grammy nominations were released, West said he would “really have a problem” if he did not win the Album of the Year, saying, “I don’t care what I do, I don’t care how much I stunt — you can never take away from the amount of work I put into it. I don’t want to hear all of that politically correct stuff.” On November 2, 2006, when his “Touch the Sky” failed to win Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards, West went onto the stage as the award was being presented to Justice and Simian for “We Are Your Friends” and argued that he should have won the award instead. Hundreds of news outlets worldwide criticized the outburst. On November 7, 2006, West apologized for this outburst publicly during his performance as support act for U2 for their Vertigo concert in Brisbane. He later spoofed the incident in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. On September 9, 2007, West suggested that his race had to do with his being overlooked for opening the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) in favor of Britney Spears; he claimed, “Maybe my skin’s not right.” West was performing at the event; that night, he lost all 5 awards that he was nominated for, including Best Male Artist and Video of the Year. After the show, he was visibly upset that he had lost at the VMAs two years in a row, stating that he would not come back to MTV ever again. He also appeared on several radio stations saying that when he made the song “Stronger” that it was his dream to open the VMAs with it. He has also stated that Spears hasn’t had a hit in a long period of time and that MTV exploited her for ratings.
On September 13, 2009, during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards while Taylor Swift was accepting her award for Best Female Video for “You Belong with Me“, West went on stage and grabbed the microphone to proclaim that Beyoncé‘s video for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)“, nominated for the same award, was “one of the best videos of all time”. He was subsequently removed from the remainder of the show for his actions. When Beyoncé later won the award for Best Video of the Year for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, she called Swift up on stage so that she could finish her acceptance speech. West was criticized by various celebrities for the outburst, and by President Barack Obama, who called West a “jackass” in an off the record comment. In addition, West’s VMA disruption sparked a large influx of Internet photo memes with blogs, forums and “tweets” with the “Let you finish” photo-jokes. He posted two apologies for the outburst on his personal blog; one on the night of the incident and the other the same day he appeared on The Jay Leno Show, on September 14, 2009, where he apologized again. After Swift appeared on The View two days after the outburst, partly to discuss the matter, West called her to apologize personally. Swift said she accepted his apology. In September 2010, West wrote a series of apologetic tweets addressed to Swift including “Beyonce didn’t need that. MTV didn’t need that and Taylor and her family friends and fans definitely didn’t want or need that” and concluding with “I’m sorry Taylor.” West also revealed he had written a song for Swift and if she didn’t accept the song, he would perform it himself. 
In December 2006, Robert “Evel” Knievel sued West for trademark infringement in West’s video for “Touch the Sky.” Knievel took issue with a “sexually-charged video” in which West takes on the persona of “Evel Kanyevel” and attempts flying a rocket over a canyon. The suit filed in federal court claims infringement on his trademarked name and likeness. Knievel also claims the “vulgar and offensive” images depicted in the video damage his reputation. The suit seeks damages and to stop distribution of the video. West’s attorneys argued that the music video amounted to satire and therefore was covered under the First Amendment. Just days before his death in November 2007, Knievel amicably settled the suit after being paid a visit from West, saying, “I thought he was a wonderful guy and quite a gentleman.”
On September 11, 2008, West and his road manager/bodyguard Don Crowley were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and booked on charges of felony vandalism after an altercation with the paparazzi in which West and Crowley broke the photographers’ cameras. West was later released from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division station in Culver City on $20,000 bail bond. On September 26, 2008 the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said it would not file felony counts against West over the incident. Instead the case file was forwarded to the city attorney’s office, which charged West with one count of misdemeanor vandalism, one count of grand theft and one count of battery and his manager with three counts of each on March 18, 2009. West’s and Crowley’s arraignment was delayed from an original date of April 14, 2009. West was arrested again on November 14, 2008 at a hotel near Gateshead after another scuffle involving a photographer outside a nightclub in Newcastle Upon Tyne. He was later released “with no further action”, according to a police spokesperson.
- Studio albums
- The College Dropout (2004)
- Late Registration (2005)
- Graduation (2007)
- 808s & Heartbreak (2008)
- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
- Live albums
- Collaboration albums
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Gavin John Blyth  was a British television producer and journalist, He was probably best known for being series producer on Emmerdale from January 2009 until his death. Beginning his career in 2002, He joined Emmerdale in 2003 as a writer, he later went on to be an assistant producer and also a story editor on Coronation Street.
(27 October 1969 – 26 November 2010)
Blyth was born on 27 October 1969, in Southport he grew up in the village of Hesketh Bank and was educated at Tarleton High School, he was the son of Merseyside journalist and broadcaster Roger Blyth. He began his journalism career in 1985 with his father’s company Mercury Press Agency in Liverpool.
On 17 January 2009, it was announced that Anita Turner had quit her role as Emmerdale’s series producer after just one year. Blyth was later announced as producer on 22 January 2009. Blyth’s first credited episode aired March 13, 2009.
He introduced several characters to the show, including Faye Lamb, Lizzie Lakely, Ryan Lamb, Jai Sharma, Nikhil Sharma, Priya Sharma, Sally Spode, Jackson Walsh and Hazel Rhodes. Blyth also reintroduced past and popular characters to the programme including Viv Hope. Charity Tate and Kelly Windsor.
Blyth was married to Suzy with whom he had a son Carter.He had two older children Tom and Anya from his first marriage.
|Emmerdale Series Producer
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James DiPaola, American politician, Massachusetts House of Representatives (1993–1996), Sheriff of Middlesex County (1996–2010), died from apparent suicide by gunshot he was , 57
James Vincent DiPaola was county sheriff of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from 1996 until his death in 2010. He had served as a Malden police officer for 18 years and was a Massachusetts state representative from 1993 to 1996. On November 26, 2010, DiPaola committed suicide. At the time of his death, he was facing multiple allegations from the state and press over ethics issues.
(May 5, 1953 – November 26, 2010)
James Vincent DiPaola was born May 5, 1953, in Malden, Massachusetts, and attended Malden Catholic High School and Malden High School. After graduating he attended North Shore Community College, where he studied criminal justice, and the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he received a B.A. in political science. He was a patrolman, sergeant and undercover narcotics detective in the Malden Police Department for 18 years, and served 25 years in the United States Military Reserves. In November 1992 he was elected as a Democrat to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the 36th Middlesex District, and he was sworn into office in January 1993. On November 27, 1996, he was sworn in as Middlesex County Sheriff after winning a special election. After serving the remainder of a partial term, he was elected to a full six-year term in November 1998 and re-elected in November 2004 and November 2010.
Ethics charges and death
On November 19, 2010, DiPaola was questioned by reporters for The Boston Globe for exploiting a state pension loophole which allowed him to file for retirement, then announce a run for re-election. This would allow him to serve his third full term while collecting both a salary and pension. He maintained that it was a legal maneuver, and he had no reason to decline the opportunity: “There is nothing evil about it. I don’t see it as grabbing something. I’m supposed to say no to it?” The next day, however, he phoned the Globe after a “sleepless night” and confessed his own feelings of guilt, saying, “I’d always be remembered for this, for double-dipping, that that would be my legacy.” He abandoned the plan and decided not to serve the following term. The following week, DiPaola revealed that the State Ethics Commission was investigating his office over allegations that his employees were illegally raising money for his re-election. On November 27, 2010, DiPaola was found dead in a hotel in Wells, Maine, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He had died between 5:30 pm and 7 pm the evening before.
DiPaola had a wife, Adeline, and three daughters.
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Alfred Balk, American journalist, former editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, died from cancer he was , 80
Alfred Balk was a magazine writer/editor and journalist-book author dedicated to media-improvement activities died from cancer he was , 80.
(born July 24, 1930 in Oskaloosa, Iowa, died November 25, 2010 in Huntley, Illinois)
He was awarded journalism degrees at Northwestern University (B.S. 1952, M.S. 1953). Then followed newswriting at station WBBM (WBBM-TV), reporting at The Chicago Sun-Times, and writing freelance articles for major national magazines. He was a member of the Society of Magazine Writers, which elected him president in 1969.
In eight years’ full time freelancing his most influential articles appeared in the era’s leading magazines. For the weekly Saturday Evening Post, which for a time retained him under contract, he wrote on subjects such as Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, victims of a fallout-shelter craze, how a T.V. jackpot almost ruined the winners, defections among Protestant ministers, and the rise of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, co-authored with Alex Haley of future Roots and Autobiography of Malcolm X fame.
One Post article, “Confessions of a Block-Buster” (July 14–21, 1962), made legal history when, after the weekly’s demise a homeowners group sued Balk to compel disclosure of his confidential source. A U.S. District Court upheld his right to confidentiality, the Supreme Court declined to review the decision, and the press (May 8, 1973) pronounced the case a landmark.
For Harper’s, his subjects included zoning abuses, a builder who made integration pay, and two high-profile cover stories. One, a collaboration with then State Sen.Paul Simon on “The Illinois Legislature: A Study in Corruption” (Sept., 1964), spurred ethics reforms and vaulted Simon to national prominence, a U.S. Senate seat, and a legacy including helping foster President-to-be Barack Obama’s political rise. The other, “God Is Rich” (October 1967), on religious organizations’ tax exemptions, led to the book The Religion Business (John Knox Press) and, under a Foundation fellowship, a nationwide study The Free List: Property Without Taxes (Russell Sage Foundation), which Time, in a two-page report (May 3, 1971), described as “a penetrating new book.”
Among other prominent articles, for The Reader’s Digest he reported on nursing-home neglect, threats to public parkland, Great Lakes water problems, boating-boom safety hazards, and Thomas Edison remembered by a son; for The Reporter, the social significance of Ebony magazine founder John Johnson’s success; and for The New York Times Magazine, the “Dust Bowl” revisited.
He served on staffs at four magazines, during which he also wrote signed pieces: Editor at Columbia Journalism Review (1969–1973) and World Press Review (1973–1986); Feature Editor and Editor-at-Large at Saturday Review (1966–1970); and Managing Editor at IEEE Spectrum (1989–1990). He also was an Executive Committee member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and Overseas Press Club and consultant to the Twentieth Century Fund and Ford Foundation and the John and Mary Markle Foundation.
After his last full time position, on the journalism faculty at Syracuse University, he wrote his eighth book, The Rise of Radio: From Marconi Through the Golden Age (McFarland, 2006). His stated purpose was to provide a one-volume “sweep of radio history” which could update, correct, and fill gaps in the field; offer “background and flavor”; place in sequence Golden Age program debuts; offer fresh insight into minorities and women in broadcasting; shed new light on formative contributions by Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, and San Francisco; and pinpoint how and why the Age’s programs and values died.” Among praise for the book, Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, who began in radio, has called it “fabulous…and the research is stunning”; former FCC Commissioner Newton Minow, “excellent”; and Golden Age writing legend Norman Corwin, destined “to live long in the history of radio.”
Balk died of cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2010 in his home in Huntley, Illinois at age 80. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren.
- The Rise of Radio, from Marconi through the Golden Age (McFarland, 2006).
- Movie Palace Masterpiece: Saving Syracuse’s Loew’s State/Landmark Theatre (Landmark Foundation, 1998).
- The Myth of American Eclipse: The New Global Age (Transaction), 1990.
- A Free and Responsive Press (Twentieth Century Fund, Paperback), 1972.
- Our Troubled Press: Ten Years of Columbia Journalism Review co-author with James Boylan, Little Brown, 1971.
- The Free List: Property Without Taxes (Russell Sage/Basic Books), 1970.
- The Religion Business (John Knox Press), 1968.
- Kup’s Chicago: A Many-Faceted and Affectionate Portrait (collaboration with Irv Kupcinet, World), 1962.
Saturday Evening Post
- “Anyone for Survival” (Mar. 27, 1965)
- “The Last Dinosaur Wins Again” (May 11, 1963)
- “Black Merchants of Hate” (with Alex Haley; Jan. 26, 1963)
- “Why I Quit the Ministry” (with an anonymous ex-minister; Nov. 17, 1962)
- “Confessions of a Block-Buster” (July 14–21, 1962)
- “A Jackpot Almost Ruined Their Lives” (July 15, 1961).
- “God Is Rich” (Oct., 1967)
- “Zoning: Invitation to Bribery” (Oct. 1966)
- “The Builder Who Makes Integration Pay” (July, 1965)
- “The Illinois Legislature: A Study in Corruption” (with Sen. Paul Simon; Sept., 1964).
- “Water Crisis on the Great Lakes” (Mar., 1965)
- “The Shame of Our Nursing Homes” (Jan., 1965)
- “Danger Rides in Small Boats” (Aug., 1962)
- “My Most Unforgettable Character” (December 1961); “Good-Bye to Our Public Parks” (November 1960).
- “Mr. Johnson Finds His Market” (Nov. 12, 1959).
New York Times Magazine
- “When the Wind Blew Black Blizzards” (Nov. 10, 1963).
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Jesse Homer Bankston, Sr. 2010) was a politician within the Democratic Party of Louisiana, a businessman, and, at his death at the age of 103, a member of the board of Louisiana Public Broadcasting. He wrote a book on Huey Long and a memoir of his boyhood.
(October 7, 1907–November 25,
Bankston is best known for a dispute in 1959 with Governor Earl Kemp Long which led to his dismissal as the director of the State Department of Hospitals. Long’s estranged wife had committed him to the Southeast Louisiana (Mental) Hospital in Mandeville. Long ordered Bankston, an otherwise loyal supporter, to discharge him, but Bankston refused because he believed that Long needed treatment; his recent behavior had been erratic. With the affirmation of Lieutenant Governor Lether Frazar, Attorney General Jack P.F. Gremillion, and the Senate President Pro Tempore, Long fired Bankston and replaced him with a pliable supporter, who immediately took steps to release the governor from the hospital. During this confrontation, Bankston was also at odds with his political ally, State Senator Sixty Rayburn of Bogalusa in Washington Parish, who remained steadfast to Long.
In June 2007, the Louisiana State Legislature in a joint resolution congratulated Bankston on his upcoming 100th birthday. The legislators described Bankston as a “political icon” and a “mover and shaker with nearly seventy years of experience in the public arena.”
 Early life and education
Jesse Homer Bankston was the last surviving of eleven children born to the former Allie Magee and Leon V. Bankston in Mount Hermon, Washington Parish, Louisiana. It was one of the Florida Parishes.) He was educated in local schools. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1933 and 1936, respectively. He did further graduate work at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
 Marriage and family
Jemison married the former Ruth Paine (1918-1997), a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Paine, Sr. She was a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Democratic Executive Committee and was a delegate to two Democratic National Conventions. The Bankstons had a daughter, Shirley, and three sons, Dale Leon, Larry S. Bankston and Jesse Bankston, Jr. Larry Bankston became an attorney and a Democratic member of the Baton Rouge City-Parish Commission and the Louisiana State Senate.
Bankston began government service in 1940 under the staunchly anti-Long Governor Sam Houston Jones, a staunch anti-Long political figure. Bankston was first a management consultant charged with reorganization of state government. In 1942, he became an organizational specialist in the Louisiana Civil Service Department.
He moved to the state Department of Institutions in 1944 under Governor Jimmie H. Davis as administrative assistant. He was appointed director of the Department of Institutions in 1947. After serving as the appointed director of the Louisiana Hospital Board from 1948-1952 under Governor Earl Long, Bankston left state government after a change in administrations.
He opened a health-care consulting firm, Bankston and Associates. With the return of Governor Long in 1956, Bankston was appointed the director of the newly established Department of Hospitals, where he served until the 1959 dispute over Long’s mental health. At that time ,Bankston returned to his consulting business, which he maintained until 1990, when he turned eighty-three.
 Political affairs
Bankston was the longest-serving elected member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (1968 to 1996). He represented the Baton Rouge-based Sixth Congressional District on the board. Bankston was also the longest serving member of the powerful Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee, a party administrative body which he joined in 1960, when James Houston “Jimmie” Davis began his second nonconsecutive term as governor.
As the director of the Department of Institutions, an agency that encompassed both corrections and hospitals, Bankston wanted employees to have access to loans. He established the Department of Hospitals Credit Union, which subsequently became the “Pelican State Credit Union.”
After his dismissal by Long, Bankston began his work for Democratic candidates and causes, having worked to deliver Louisiana’s then ten electoral votes for the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. This carried Louisiana over the Republican ticket of Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and an unpledged elector slate that included future Governor David C. Treen.
Bankston joined the boards of the newly established Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB). Public Broadcasting President Beth Courtney told the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate that Bankston never misses a board meeting: “He asks good questions, built on a lifetime of public service. He’s got good advice. He’s got experience.”
In the 1979 gubernatorial general election campaign, Bankston obtained a censure resolution against two failed Democratic candidates E.L. “Bubba” Henry and Edgar G. “Sonny” Mouton, Jr., both of whom openly endorsed the successful Republican candidate, former Democrat David Treen. Bankston warned Mouton, then an outgoing state senator from Lafayette and one generally considered to have been a liberal lawmaker, that “if he thinks he is going to get all those people who voted for him in the primary to vote for a Republican, I think he’s looking through rose-colored glasses.” Bankston questioned whether Treen had agreed to assist in the retirement of Mouton’s campaign debts. Bankston blamed confusion over the certification of Democratic candidate Louis Lambert in part to the competition between the Associated Press and United Press International in attempting to be the first to report the ballot tabulations. The Democratic committee did not censure two other Democratic gubernatorial candidates who backed Treen, outgoing Secretary of State Paul J. Hardy and outgoing Lieutenant Governor Jimmy Fitzmorris because their support for Treen came after the committee had met.
 Bankston on the Democrat future
In a printed interview in 1980, Bankston said that the Louisiana Democratic Party apparatus was in excellent condition despite losing the governorship for the first time since 1872:
“Why, for years, the party was just kind of performing ministerial duties and didn’t do anything from a political standpoint. We supported state Democrats and national Republicans. But with President Carter‘s election in 1976 — when we carried Louisiana for only the [third] since 1944 — we broke away from the old Perez group. We were able to get blacks as officers for the first time. We elected Hank Braden [an African American from New Orleans] as national committeeman. That was the first time we actually came out, as a party, and endorsed the national party’s presidential ticket, and that caused a real revolution.
Bankston noted that during the time that the state Democrats balked over their national nominees, the Louisiana GOP had largely rallied to support all of its candidates. Bankston said that he had warned the Louisiana Democratic congressional representatives in 1979 that Republican Treen could take the governorship:
“I went to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Democrats in the congressional delegation and the national party people, and I told them that unless we get our act together and get some money and organization, the Republicans were going to take it. But they wouldn’t listen. They said, ‘Louisiana is a surplus state: we don’t ever put money into Louisiana.’ I said, ‘Well, this time you better, or you are going to lose the governor and maybe then the congressional delegation because the governor’s office in Louisiana is the most powerful office in the United States except the office of U.S. President, and the governor can have a lot of influence on who is elected to Congress.”
After going to Washington, Bankston said party officials contacted him and asked what they could do. Bankston said that he told them, “Nothing, you’re too dad-blamed late.” Bankston said that Fitzmorris, Hardy, Henry, and Mouton “completely misjudged the wrath brought on by the party.” Bankston predicted that future Louisiana Democrats eliminated in the nonpartisan blanket primary would not dare to endorse a Republican in a general election showdown.
 Civic affairs
In addition to LPB, Bankston served on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America, Salvation Army, and the United Way. He was a member of the Masonic lodge, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the American Hospital Association and its state equivalent. He was a member of the trustees of the Broadmoor Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.
 Legacy and honors
- 2002, Bankston was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, the seat of Winn Parish and the traditional home of the Longs.
- 2007, he received the first annual “T. J. Jemison Race Relations Award” from the Mount Zion First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, named for the black minister and civil rights advocate T. J. Jemison. Bankston was recognized for “working to bring people together regardless of their race, ethnicity, or religious backgrounds.”
Bankston wrote a book about Earl Long. He also penned a memoir entitled Memories of a Country Boy, an account of his boyhood in Washington Parish.
After his death, services for Bankston were held on December 3, 2010, at Greenoaks Funeral Home Chapel.
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(July 7, 1910 – November 25, 2010)
Born in Calgary, Alberta, McCarthy attended the Ontario College of Art from (1926–1930), where she was awarded various scholarships and prizes. She became a teacher shortly thereafter and taught most frequently at Central Technical School in downtown Toronto from 1932 until she retired in 1972. She spent most of her life living and working in Scarborough (now a Toronto district), Ontario, though she traveled abroad extensively and painted the landscapes of various countries, including: Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, Japan, India, England, and Ireland. McCarthy was nonetheless probably best known for her Canadian landscapes and her depictions of Arctic icebergs. In 1989, she graduated from the University of Toronto at Scarborough with a B.A in English.
McCarthy’s work has been exhibited and collected extensively in Canada and abroad, in both public and private art galleries Including: National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Doris McCarthy Art Gallery at University of Toronto at Scarborough., and Wynick/Tuck Gallery.
McCarthy also penned three autobiographies, chronicling the various stages of her life: A Fool in Paradise (Toronto: MacFarlane, Walter & Ross, 1990), The Good Wine (Toronto: MacFarlane, Walter & Ross, 1991), and Ninety Years Wise (Toronto: Second Story Press, 2004). She was also the recipient of the Order of Ontario, the Order of Canada, honorary degrees from the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, Trent University, the University of Alberta, and Nipissing University, an honorary fellowship from the Ontario College of Art and Design and also had a gallery named in her honour on the Scarborough campus at the University of Toronto.
She died on November 25, 2010.
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