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Kanye West is an American rapper and producer well known for his best-selling records and trendsetting fashion style. West began pursuing a career in music as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records and by 2004, West had released first record album which won that year’s Best Rap Album Grammy award. On the Internet, West is well known for his self-absorbed and often erratic tweets, as well as his on-stage interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009.
September 2005: Hurricane Katrina Remark
After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, NBC hosted a benefit telethon called A Concert For Hurricane Relief on September 2nd. During the live broadcast, Kanye strayed from the teleprompter, saying “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” before the show’s producer cut away to another actor, unaware of the sudden change in broadcast.
The clip was made into a YTMND on October 2nd, 2009. Several derivatives appeared on the site after, replacing “black people” with other things including “my stapler” and “Mac people.” The video was named the 25th best viral video of the 2000s by pop culture blog Complex, appeared on Encyclopedia Dramatica, and was parodied on a shirt worn by a puppet in a 2006 episode of Arrested Development.
September 2009: MTV VMA Awards
During a live broadcast of the annual MTV Music Video Awards on September 13th, 2009, Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for that year’s Best Female Video. An exploitable of Kanye began circulating around 4chan paired with the snowclone Imma Let You Finish.
July 2010: Joins Twitter
After a blog post in which he claimed “everything that Twitter offers I need less of” on May 13th, 2009, Kanye joined Twitter as @kanyewest on July 28th, 2010. Importing the use of typing in all capital letters from his blog, he began using the site to shout out to celebrity friends and post pictures of goblets and 19th century art. This initial burst of activity was covered by the Awl, TechCrunch, Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal and TIME.
On July 31st, Kanye chose one person to follow, a teenager from England named Steven Holmes, @ste_101. Kanye and Steven exchanged several tweets on the first night, calling him the “chosen one.” Within a week, Steven asked Kanye to unfollow him due to unwanted attention. Since then, Kanye has only followed five people, despite having over 5,841,000 followers as of January 6th, 2012.
Several tribute projects to his early tweets exist, including embroidered and framed versions made by Etsy seller supervelma, a song by Josh Groban, and a Huffington Post slideshow pairing the tweets with New Yorker cartoons. Several generators were created, including a mood-based edition, a Mad Libs version, and one with an API to place Kanye quotes all over the web.
January 2012: Return to Twitter
He made a comeback to the site on January 4th, 2012. Over the course of 85 tweets and three hours, Kanye outlined a plan for a new company he has in the works, Donda, named after his late mother, who passed away in November 2007. He outlined the plan over several tweets, planning a 22 department company that would hire people from professions across the board including writers, nutritionists, musicians, lawyers, video game designers, and teachers to make products and experiences people want and can afford. He gained over 23,000 followers in the days following his rant.
We need as many amazing powerful smart talented wealthy people to be involved… Come get on board… don’t just sit there… reach out— Kanye West (@kanyewest) January 5, 2012
The next day, news of his diatribe was covered by Entertainment Weekly, MSNBC, Washington Post, Mashable. Spin Magazine collected statistics from the tweet session which included a total word count of 1623, 9 fashion brand name drops, and 1 Matrix reference. In one of these tweets, Kanye gave out an email address for the company, contactDONDA@gmail.com. A fake Twitter account, @DONDAWorldwide, was created that night, claiming they had made the Gmail account and talking about the potential projects the company would undertake.
Kanye just made the sickest lanyard. It had 5 plasma screens on it!! #DONDA— DONDA Group (@DONDAWorldwide) January 5, 2012
Several notable single topic blogs inspired by West have launched on the microblogging site Tumblr. On March 2nd, 2009, the “Where Are You Yeezy?” blog was created to curate notable quotes and photographs of the rapper until the site was abandoned in July of 2012. On October 8th, 2010, the “Kanye’d By The Bell” Tumblr was launched, highlighting screen captures from the 1990s television series Saved by the Bell accompanied by captions containing West’s song lyrics (shown below).
On December 14th, 2010, the “Kanye Plus Comics” blog was created for illustrations of comic book characters captioned with West’s song lyrics (shown below, left). On January 9th, 2011, the “Kanye Chef” blog was launched, featuring West’s rap lyrics altered to sound as if they were about verses about food products (shown below, middle). On July 8th, the “Kanye With White People” Tumblr was launched, which reblogged photos of West taken while in the company of white people (shown below, right).
On August 26th, 2012, the “Kanye Wes Anderson” Tumblr was created, showcasing screen captured images from films directed by Wes Anderson (shown below). On October 19th, Jason Kottke linked to the Tumblr on his personal blog. On the same day, notable examples from the blog were highlighted on several Internet news sites, including UpRoxx, The Huffington Post, The Daily Dot and BuzzFeed.
Kanye West was born on June 8th, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, before taking college courses in the city at the American Academy of Art and Chicago State University. While in college, he began producing tracks for local rap and hip hop artists and ultimately dropped out of school to focus on his music career. In 2000, Kanye began producing for Roc-a-Fella records before recording a verse on the Jay-Z song The Bounce.
After this opportunity, Kanye decided put producing to the site to focus on his solo career. His first single, Through The Wire was recorded after Kanye was involved in a near-fatal car crash and while his jaw was wired shut. Since 2003, Kanye has released five solo albums, two collaborative records, won 14 Grammy awards, and started his own record label.
On December 30th, 2012, Kanye West revealed that his girlfriend Kim Kardashian is pregnant to a crowd during a concert performance in Atlantic City. Almost immediately, fans reacted to the news on Twitter with mentions of “Kimye’s baby” and hashtag #KimyeBabyName, inspiring a slew of baby names and even some photoshopped parodies.
#KimyeBabyNames if its a boy: Kanye. If its a girl: Kanye
— Grant Roth (@guh_rawth) December 31, 2012
Yo Kanye I’m real happy for you, but Beyonce had the best baby announcement of all time.
— Kaleb Nation (@KalebNation) December 31, 2012
Search for Kanye West peaked in September 2009 following the Taylor Swift incident at the MTV VMAs.
Entertainment Weekly – Kanye West’s twitter is back! And yes, it’s pretty much amazing
Washington Post – Kanye West and the Donda Twitter rant: A translation
Entertainment Weekly – Kanye West already has the funniest Twitter feed of all time
Huffington Post – Kanye West’s Tweets Matched With New Yorker Cartoons
Entertainment Weekly – Kanye West’s lone Twitter follow bails, says no thanks to media attention