Kanye West has become one of those figures who is known for his personal escapades just as much as his professional accolades, but the rapper is still reaping the benefits of his art.
Last week, BET announced that the hip-hop heavyweight will be one of the recipients at the 2015 BET Honors. The mogul will be honored with the Visionary Award “for setting trends and redefining ways of self-expression through different mediums of art.” Even though he might be in the headlines for his rowdy voice and outings with wifey, Kim Kardashian, SheKnows decided to round up a few of the outstanding professional landmarks that make this honor fitting.
1. Kanye’s debut
Kanye took the world of hip-hop by storm when he dropped his debut album, The College Dropout, in 2004. It was an impressive debut that won over fans, nabbed a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and had a string of successful singles, including “Through the Wire,” “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks.” Even though it was a full-blown success, the LP didn’t garner him a Best New Artist win at the American Music Awards and introduced us to the first taste of his overt personality when he told reporters, “I felt like I was definitely robbed, and I refused to give any politically correct bullshit-ass comment… I was the best new artist this year.”
2. Crossing over with “Stronger”
Ye has a ton of hits, but his second single from his third LP, Graduation, still hits extremely hard. By teaming up with Daft Punk to rework “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” West was able to transcend beyond standard hip-hop boundaries and introduce himself to a wave of new fans. Five years later and the video still stands as his most viewed upload on his YouTube account with 131,837,301 views.
3. Nike Air Yeezy
While Kanye has redefined the boundaries of hip-hop, he’s also made an impact in the world of shoes. Back in the late 2000s, Ye teamed up with Nike to create the Nike Air Yeezy with the company’s creative director, Mark Smith. Even with a hefty price of $215 per pair, the first line (available in various colors) sold out immediately. Demand for the line prompted the second release of West shoes, called Nike Air Yeezy 2, in 2012.
4. 2006’s Rolling Stone cover
Kanye really brought his song, “Jesus Walks,” to life when he posed for the Feb. 9, 2006 edition of Rolling Stone. On the cover, Ye wore a shoulder-baring ensemble with a crown of thorns and streaks of blood across his face. It was imagery that a lot of people didn’t take well, including a portion of the Christian community who deemed the photo disrespectful. However, it would be the beginning of what we know as the rapper’s nickname and the title of his sixth studio album, Yeezus.
5. “Blood on the Leaves” 2013 VMAs performance
MTV’s Video Music Awards are usually reserved for performances that make a statement. Ye did just that back in 2013 when he offered viewers the debut live performance of “Blood on the Leaves.” With a backdrop of Steve McQueen’s “Lynching Tree” painting, the rapper made a memorable and eerie visual presence as his shadow illuminated from the set. His set also served as a record-breaking moment for the emcee by tying Madonna as the artist with the most VMA performances of all time.
6. Kimye proposal
West’s Visionary Award is clearly a focus on his professional accolades, but we’d like to think it takes a visionary to stir up the proposal that led to the wedding of the year. As seen on E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Yeezy pulled out all the stops when he proposed to Kimmy at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Say what you want about the guy, but you can’t deny that this proposal was over the top.
7. “Power” video
We all know that Kanye has one heck of a mouth, but even so, he’s never been one to listen to others and follow musical trends. His video for “Power” is no exception. Directed by Marco Brambilla, the clip was more like a moving painting with Ye at the center of the madness surrounded by a string of angelic and devilish lady figures. It’s chaotic, intriguing and brilliant all at the same time.