Kanye West is a polarizing character in pop culture today. He’s known for his regular outbursts, his unpredictable behavior and his unparalleled artistry in the artistic mediums of rap, fashion and talking for a long time while still remaining unclear. Whether you love him or hate him, West is someone who is always making headlines, whether it’s for his successes, his failures, or his controversies (which tend to be a mix of the first two). Despite the recent unfortunate events, West remains a fascinating staple of music, celebrity and culture.
Kanye West is a complex person, one most often known for being able to both alienate and endear his own fans and to mock the very nature of his extreme fame, as well as the fame of his wife, Kim Kardashian West. He is an example of the duplicity of identity and there always seems to be a surprise from him. Here are some pretty surprising and highly interesting facts about Yeezus, Yeezy, or Mr. West.
1. He does not take selfies.
Unlike his wife, Kanye West is NOT a fan of selfies, which he relayed to Harper’s Bazaar during his first couples’ interview and shoot with his wife of nearly three years. He, along with many others, is a big fan of Kim’s infamously sexy selfies, saying, “I love her nude selfies. Like, I love the ones from the side, the back ones and the front.”
2. He doesn’t appear frequently on Keeping Up With the Kardashians for an unexpected reason.
Both Kim and Kanye have divulged that the rapper isn’t particularly fond of making an appearance on his wife’s hit reality TV show. In true Kanye West fashion, it has to do with art. West doesn’t like the way the show is shot, including the camera angles, and would prefer for the cameramen to be a bit more aesthetically avant-garde with their recording methods. In one episode on which he made a brief appearance, West is heard instructing the cameraman to shoot a bit more like Stanley Kubrick.
3. He sometimes becomes emotional about fonts.
“Sometimes I get emotional over fonts,” Kanye West tweeted on August 17, 2010. West is known for his ardent dedication to art, with his endeavors beyond music including forays into fashion, interior design and visual design. His most notable creations have been for his Yeezy Season shows in collaboration with Adidas.
4. Kanye means “the only one” in Swahili.
The phrase “only one” has played a major role in West’s career. He wrote an emotional single entitled “Only One,” which features Paul McCartney. His mother, Donda, who passed away, referred to him as her only one, and he also calls his daughter, North, by the nickname.
5. His debut album College Dropout was given the title of ‘album of the year’ by almost every publication in music, including the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time, GQ, Spin and XXL.
The album has a rating of 87 on Metacritic and received 10 Grammy nominations. Pitchfork and Time both named College Dropout in their listings of the best albums of all time. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, with Norah Jones’ Feels Like Home in the top spot.
6. West’s most serious relationship before Kim Kardashian was with fashion designer and stylist Alexis Phifer.
Phifer and West dated from 2002 to 2008. They were engaged for 18 months after he proposed to her at a lobster and pasta dinner in Capri, with West citing his mother’s passing as a major influence in getting serious with Phifer. As West prepared for his first major tour, things went south for the pair, and they eventually split, with Phifer calling him “one of the most talented people I’ve ever met.”
The album 808s and Heartbreak, as well as Graduation, are both said to be written about Alexis Phifer and their tumultuous relationship.
The first photograph of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West together also features Phifer, as the three met at a party in 2007.
7. One of his most famous and shocking TV moments was totally unscripted.
West is infamous for saying, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” during a Hurricane Katrine infomercial/telethon, with an extremely uncomfortable and obviously shocked Mike Myers next to him.
West’s quote aired live on the East Coast but was actually edited out for West Coast viewers.
He later told Ellen Degeneres, “It’s the least I could do to go up there and say something from my heart.”
8. West fled the country after the infamous Taylor Swift scandal.
After he grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift and shocked the world at the VMAs, West was subject to some pretty harsh criticism from the media and music fans alike. Many people speculated that West’s career was over, with Taylor Swift becoming a bit of an “America’s sweetheart” immediately following the scandal.
West moved to Japan and then traveled to Rome before settling down in Hawaii for six months to begin working on new music. He also interned at Fendi during this hiatus and reflected on his actions, particularly in relation to his mom’s passing and his grief.
9. West was an aspiring restaurant owner.
He joined several other celebrities in opening his own properties of a restaurant chain, West’s partner of choice being Fatburger. His company KW Foods LLC was slated to open 10 Fatburger stores around his native Chicago. Two of the restaurants, which serve cooked-to-order fast food, opened in 2009. In 2011, West shut down both of the locations due to financial problems. West’s collaborator Pharrell also partnered with the fast food brand, opening his own restaurants in China.
In March of 2014, it was reported that KW Foods would be investing in and opening 10 Burger King restaurants in Europe as a gift to Kardashian. Though it’s not clear if the chains were opened, KW Foods LLC is still listed as an operating private company.
10. West met his former stylist and creative collaborator during a shopping trip at Barney’s.
West was doing some casual shopping and complimented Cassius Clay on his slippers. They exchanged email information, as West did not have a cell phone at the time, a habit which he occasionally practices in order to allow his creative process to flow. West emailed Clay after another run-in and asked him if he’d be interested in styling him. Clay took a year off from his academic studies at Yale, saying to Complex, “It was hard for me to come up with reasons not to do it.” Clay then attended video shoots, performances and recording sessions before deciding to walk away from West amidst the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. After some particularly harsh press coverage, Clay returned to school and finished his studies in art history, not because of the attention but simply because he says he considered college important. Ultimately, he says he made the right decision, but has no ill will toward Kanye West.