Kanye Omari West born June 8, 1977 is an American rapper, singer, and record producer. Kanye 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.
Kanye 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. West released a collaborative album, Watch the Throne, with Jay-Z on August 8, 2011, which is the duo's first collaborative album. His five solo albums, all of which have gone platinum, have received numerous awards and critical acclaim. As of 2011, Kanye West has won a total of fourteen Grammy awards. All albums have been very commercially successful, with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy becoming his fourth consecutive No.1 album in the U.S. upon release. West has had 5 songs exceed 3 million in digital sales as of July 2011, with "Gold Digger" selling 3,086,000, "Stronger" selling 4,402,000, "Heartless" selling 3,742,000, "E.T." selling over 4,000,000 and "Love Lockdown" selling over 3,000,000 placing him third in overall digital sales of the past decade. He has sold over 25 million digital songs in the United States placing him second for solo male artists on the list and sixth overall for best selling digital artists.
Kanye West also runs his own record label GOOD Music, home to artists such as John Legend, Common and Kid Cudi. Kanye 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 No.8 on their "Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers" list. On May 16, 2008, Kanye West was crowned by MTV as the year's No.1 "Hottest MC in the Game." On December 17, 2010, Kanye West was voted as the MTV Man of the Year by MTV. Billboard ranked Kanye West No. 3 on their list of Top 10 Producers of the decade.