He's one of the best producers in the game, an MC whose talent on the mic continues to evolve and, according to Esquire magazine, one of the best-dressed men in the world. Kanye West says you can tag another title onto him: activist. He has a voice that millions listen to now, and he's not going to waste the opportunity.
"I didn't set out to be an activist," he said recently. "I was born into it. My grandfather drove the first car in [some civil rights] marches [in the 1960s]. My grandfather said, 'We goin' in and we finnin' to sit down over here.' Like I said on the first album, my mother got arrested at 6 years old for the sit-ins.
"My father was a former Black Panther," he added. "Now he's converted his life and he's a counselor. He's at a bunch of different jobs where his main goal is to help people and to teach, and my mother's main goal is to help people and to teach. And these two people made me. I have one of the biggest voices around, so I'm not tryin' to hurt people, I'm tryin' to help people and to teach. I can't find out some information and not tell you."
On his third LP, tentatively titled Graduation and scheduled for release in October 2006, West says he's going get deeper with his messages. Of course, West's second LP, Late Registration, comes out on August 30 (see "Kanye's Co-Pilot, Jon Brion, Talks About The Making Of Late Registration" and "Kanye Previews New LP, Modestly Exclaims: 'This Is Killing Everything Out There!' ") and he certainly doesn't shy away from socially relevant topics, even while making you dance on tracks like his current single, "Gold Digger." On one of the verses, he raps about a man who paid child support for 18 years before finding out, on the kid's 18th birthday, that he's not actually the father.
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Kanye West' Extras
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" 'Gold Digger' is the quintessential Kanye West record," he said. "It makes you think. Look how I break down the information on [the verse that starts with] '18 years.' That's a serious situation right there. Look how I broke down at the end how, how n---as be getting rich and leaving their black girlfriend for a white girlfriend. That's not just a rap about money and girls. And I do it in such a charming way."
Kanye talks about his less charming qualities, his insecurities and even being called "gay" by classmates in "All Eyes On Kanye West," which airs Thursday at 10:30 p.m. on MTV. For Kanye's extended interview, log onto MTVNews.com starting at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, and read the "All Eyes On Kanye West" feature.
Track list for Kanye West's Late Registration, according to his publicist:
- "Wake Up Mr. West"
- "Heard 'Em Say" (featuring Adam Levine)
- "Touch the Sky" (featuring Lupe Fiasco)
- "Gold Digger" (featuring Jamie Foxx)
- Skit #1
- "Drive Slow" (featuring Paul Wall and GLC)
- "My Way Home" (featuring Common)
- "Crack Music" (featuring Game)
- "Bring Me Down" (featuring Brandy)
- "Addiction "
- Skit #2
- "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" (remix, featuring Jay-Z)
- "We Major" (featuring Nas and Really Doe)
- Skit #3
- "Hey Mama "
- Skit #4
- "Gone" (featuring Consequence and Cam'ron)
- "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" (bonus track)