15 Interesting Things About Kanye West That Might Surprise You (PHOTOS)

Amy Goldman | Mar 18, 2016 Celebrities


Kanye WestThere are few public figures as exasperating as Kanye West is. It's impossible to know if his notorious persona is authentic or just a calculated part of his brand. For every groundbreaking contribution to music, there's an infuriating tweet about a powerful woman. For every sweet photo captured of him with North West, there's a concerning outburst on the set of Saturday Night Live.

All of his idiosyncrasies considered, Ye's undeniable influence on pop culture drives us all to want to know more about this controversial musician. What do we know about the real Kanye? Keep reading for 15 things about Kanye West that might surprise you.


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  • Family Business


    Image via Splash News

    Kanye's drive for success apparently runs in the family. His father, Ray, was one of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution's first black photojournalistsKanye's mother, Donda, was an English professor at Clark Atlanta University. 

  • Curb His Enthusiasm? Never!


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    In 2007, Kanye filmed a TV pilot for HBO that unfortunately never made it to air. The sitcom, inspired by his real life, was compared to Larry David's heavily improvised show Curb Your Enthusiasm. We bet that Ye -- like Larry -- also has a mean Bernie Sanders impression. 

  • He Don't Need No Diamond Ring


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    Kanye is known to brag about his flashy lifestyle, but sometimes he uses his fame as a platform to promote more selfless causes. With his music video for "Diamonds From Sierra Leone," Kanye addressed the terrible human cost of conflict diamonds.

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  • The Biggest Fiona Apple Fan OF ALL TIME


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    It turns out that Kanye loves Fiona Apple's music as much as we do. In an Interview magazine feature, Kanye rhapsodized about his appreciation for the singer. Ye told Fiona that her debut album Tidal made him want to work with her producer "so I could be like the rap version of you." 

  • Mother Knows Best


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    Kanye's mother, who tragically died in 2007, had an enormous impact on his career. As a teacher in Chicago, Donda worked with hip-hop producer No I.D.'s mother. Donda asked her colleague if she could introduce Kanye to her son. No I.D. was so impressed by Kanye that he became his mentor and his manager.

  • Fish Sticks


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    To celebrate the success of The College Dropout, Kanye treated himself to an elaborate antique aquarium filled with 30 koi fish. Made in the 18th century, the tank featured a gold fountain in the shape of a cherub with a marble base. If you've seen a certain South Park episode about Kanye, you'll know why we think this bit of trivia is hilarious. 

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  • Burger Boss


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    Kanye opened two burger joints in 2009. Located in Chicago, the restaurants were part of the Fatburger franchise. Both restaurants have since closed, but we won't give up hope that Kanye will one day guest star on Bob's Burgers.

  • I Scream, You Scream, Kanye Screams for Ice Cream!


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    When Kanye was 10 years old, Donda brought him with her to China where she spent a year at Nanjing University as a visiting professor. Kanye revealed to NME that he busked for spare change by performing karate in the street. "To be honest it was pretty entertaining for me, and I used to spend what I earned on ice cream," said West. 

  • An Honest Mistake


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    Kanye was arrested in 2000, in what he claimed was a case of mistaken identity. He was convicted of stealing printers from an Office Max, which admittedly would have been a weird thing for a successful music producer to do. In a court deposition, Kanye said that he "was racially profiled for having a white T-shirt and braids."

    More from The Stir: 15 Times Kanye West Looked Like He Was About to Lose It (PHOTOS)

  • A Hero's Work Is Never Done


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    Kanye raised a few eyebrows in 2010 when he described Lindsay Lohan's collaboration with fashion brand Ungaro as the "9/11 of celebrities doing fashion." He added, "After that, I thought, 'Well, I can't do a line now.'" Thankfully, Kanye recovered and went on to create Yeezy, his line of very expensive sweatsuits.

  • Kanye the Telemarketer


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    After briefly attending Chicago State University, Kanye dropped out of college and started working as a telemarketer. His job involved selling insurance to Montgomery Ward credit card holders. Maybe this experience with insurance prepared him for taking out the life insurance policy, reportedly valued at $20 million, mentioned in his prenuptial agreement with Kim.

  • Pocket Change


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    Kanye made $8,800 when he sold his first beat to local Chicago rapper Gravity. We bet Ye never imagined he'd one day be $53 million in debt!

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  • He's Gonna Be Popular


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    Kanye might not be the first person you'd expect to be a fan of the musical Wicked, but the rapper can be seen in a video sampling Kristin Chenoweth's vocals from the chorus of "Popular." The video, which features Kanye in a recording studio with then-girlfriend Amber Rose, dates back to when he was recording material for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

  • Trendsetter


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    Kanye West once got a phone call from Michael Jackson, who wanted to ask him about the stylish jacket he wore in the music video for "Stronger." Kanye has referenced MJ in several of his songs including "Slow Jamz" and "Through the Wire," so the artists clearly shared a mutual appreciation for each other.

  • Heavy Metal


    Image via Jackson Lee/Brian/Splash News

    Kanye almost died in a car accident in 2002 when he fell asleep behind the wheel on his way home from a recording session. His broken jaw was wired shut, and he had to have a metal plate put into his chin. He managed to rap through the wire on his aptly named track, "Through the Wire."

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