Kanye Omari West was born on June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia. He became interested in music as a child, when he began writing, rhyming, and making beats. When he turned 20, West co-produced tracks for Harlem World and the Mad Rapper. Before becoming a recording artist, West was better known in hip hop circles for his production prowess. His skill at beatmaking earned him the attention of Roc-a-Fella Records, where he collaborated with artists such as Talib Kweli, Common, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, and John Legend.
West received his big break when he worked with Jay-Z on the latter's 2001 album The Blueprint, which included the songs "Takeover" and "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)." After its success, West was signed with the then-Jay-Z owned Roc-a-Fella in 2002. He released his debut album, College Dropout, in February 2004. The record's popularity turned Kanye West into a star. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 4 million copies worldwide. The album spawned three hit singles, "All Falls Down," "Jesus Walks," and "Through the Wire," the last of which was inspired by a near-fatal car accident West had in late 2002. West received 10 Grammy nominations in 2005, winning Best R&B Song, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Album.
In August of 2005, West released his second album, Late Registration. Selling over five million albums worldwide, it contains a string of hit singles, including "Diamonds in Sierra Leone," "Heard 'Em Say," "Touch the Sky," and "Gold Digger," West's first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. His reputation as a rapper now well established, West released his third album, Graduation, in September 2007. Selling over two million copies to date, the album features the singles "Can’t Tell Me Nothing," "Stronger," "Good Life," "Flashing Lights," and "Homecoming." West released his fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak, in November 2008. It has had two top 10 singles, "Love Lockdown" and "Heartless."