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Friday, March 31, 2006



Kanye West

Well-known for his production work with Jay-Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys, Kanye West became a household name with the release of his debut album, 2004's "The College Dropout." The multi-platinum recording exploded out of the gates and the massive cross-over appeal of West's rap anthems netted him 10 Grammy Award nominations in 2005 and established him as a top player in pop music.

Looking to capitalize on such astounding achievements, he released his sophomore album, "Late Registration," last summer. Well-written rhymes that ooze social consciousness and street cred, along with top-notch production, helped the disc to match the commercial and critical success of its predecessor -- February saw West picking up a Brit Award and three Grammys for the album.

Never one to shy away from the media, the egocentric West loves mugging for the cameras, keeping his stylish figure plastered across TV screens and magazines across the globe. Last year, West used his celebrity to become more outspoken on social issues, appearing at Live 8 and denouncing homophobia in hip-hop. But what got him the most attention was his bold proclamation during a televised Hurricane Katrina benefit that "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

While the comment may have sunk a lesser artist, West's stock is as high as ever. The Puff Daddy of the new millennium, he's created his own record label, G.O.O.D. Music, designed jewelry and plans to start his own fashion line, Pastelle Clothing. Recently, he even signed on to appear in and executive-produce a movie inspired by his music.

Since he's selling out arenas in North America and Europe, his appearances next week at Yokohama Blitz and Studio Coast may be one of the last chances to catch this pop superstar in a slightly more intimate setting.

"Kanye West -- Touch the Sky Tour": April 5, 7:30 p.m. at Yokohama Blitz, Yokohama, 8,500 yen/12,000 yen ([045] 640 4900) and April 6, 7:30 p.m. at Shin-Kiba Studio Coast, Tokyo, 8,500 yen ([03]) 5534 1515).

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