Kanye West’s Net Worth: From College Dropout to Yeezus
Kanye West’s name is synonymous with modern rap.
His seminal approach to hip-hop in the early 2000s changed the genre forever – a pattern he continues today. With each change in sound, a new era of rap is born with its long list of offspring following in its footsteps.
Unfortunately, all that pioneering goodness is often overshadowed by his seemingly insatiable need to stir up controversy. From calling out other rappers, to ruining Taylor Swift’s burgeoning big VMA moment, to starting performing with just about everyone, West has made a splash throughout his career.
Still, West has managed to carve out a lauded career in music, fashion and more. CelebrityNetworth.com estimated the rapper to be worth nearly $6.6 billion. While his albums still manage to generate revenue – to the tune of $1.5 billion a year – for the donda artist, much of his income comes from his Yeezy clothing line and his collaboration with Adidas.
Its Yeezy brand is estimated to bring in around $4-5 billion a year. In March 2021, his deal with The Gap added another $1 billion to West’s net worth.
Love him or hate him, he did just fine. Below, we’ll chart a journey through the rapper’s polarizing career.
Kanye Omari West grew up in Chicago, Illinois under the musical guidance of DJ No ID. While learning with the producer, West began to experiment with his own sound. He then attended the American Academy of Art in 1997 before transferring to Chicago State University to study English. Eventually, he dropped out at age 20 to pursue his music career.
His early career began creating beats for other artists to use while he perfected his craft. His first official production credits were for rapper Grave’s debut album, Down to earth. Other artists he produced with during this time include Foxy Brown, Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, and Harlem World.
West started making waves in 2000 while working as a producer at Roc-A-Fella Records. There he worked with established artists from the Hip Hop and R&B scene, such as Ludacris, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson.
But that was his work on Jay-Z’s 2011 album, The plan, which sparked serious interest in West’s work. He completely took off after the release of the album and started working for other heavyweights like Beyoncé and John Legend.
Despite his success as a producer, West’s main dream was to be a full-fledged rapper. After a serious car accident in 2002, West was inspired and recorded the song “Through the Wire” with his jaw still locked. The sequel to his debut album, University dropoutreceived rave reviews in 2004 and earned 10 Grammy nominations, and was eventually certified triple platinum in the United States.
While West continued to produce rented album after rented album, the rapper had all but one LP that did not go Platinum in the United States.
808 and heartache truly defined mid-2000s rap, causing the booming drum machine to spread throughout the genre. Yeezus caused controversy in 2013, as many claimed the rapper compared himself to Jesus with the title. Pablo’s life once again changed West’s sound with a turn to the spiritual. He then plunged headlong into the divine with jesus is king in 2019.
In light of his faith, he also began to continue orchestrating the weekly “Sunday Service” with his choir in 2019. The group performed regularly every Sunday for a time, playing a mix of popular and gospel classics.
His last albums donda and 2 saw West turn to a darker sound with a long list of famous features. The debut album enjoyed widespread success while the unique rollout of Part 2 – available exclusively on its Stem Player – diminished its appeal.
In addition to his own albums and releases, West continued his work as a producer for artists including 6ix9ine, XXXTentacion, Lil Pump, Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, and Teyana Taylor.
West has long expressed an interest in fashion and was the first non-athlete to sign a shoe deal with Nike with his 2009 Air Yeezy sneaker. He has also designed shoes for Louis Vuitton, Bape and Guiseppe Zanotti.
In 2013, Adidas officially announced its new footwear collaboration with West, which produced the Yeezy Boost 750 sneaker. The collaboration sold out in New York City within 20 minutes of going live. West and the brand went on to create over 6 designs. In 2015, West premiered Season 1 of his full Yeezy apparel line with Adidas, with Season 2 following later that year, and then Season 3 being revealed in 2016.
Photo by Rich Fury/VF20/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
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