Kanye West, also known as Ye, is an unavoidable name in pop culture. Since the 2004 release of his first album, College Dropout, he has maintained a formidable presence in music, managing to secure himself twenty-two Grammys throughout his storied career. Not satisfied with merely being an iconic music figure, Kanye has extended his reach into the realm of fashion, building a clothing empire through Yeezy, a collaborative project between himself and the apparel company Adidas. Thanks to some smart business moves and an incredible amount of talent, Kanye has lifted himself from his humble beginnings in Chicago to become one of America’s seven Black billionaires.
While most may know Kanye West for his achievements in music and fashion, many may not be aware that the rapper has had a long interest in gaming and has tried several times to penetrate the gaming market. Although his success in this field has been minimal, the story of Kanye’s intertwinement with the gaming industry is an interesting one.
Kanye West the Video Game Developer
Kanye’s big break came thanks to producing music for big names such as Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. However, Kanye’s eyes were not always set on being a global musical phenomenon, and as a child, he initially wanted to make video games. When he was twelve, he began work on his first video game, but even at that age Kanye was an eccentric individual. As such, his Mario-inspired game was quite sexual. Despite the immature themes, it was a difficult project to work on. As Kanye explains: “I’m 12 years old, and this is stuff 30-year-olds are programming. You’d have to draw in and program every little step.”
Though his labor would not result in the next gaming hit, it did lead him to discover his musical talents. It was through trying to make soundtracks for his game that Kanye fell in love with music. This would prove to be a wise choice for Mr. West, but it would not be the last time he dabbled in the world of video games.
Donda West Ascends to Heaven
One of the most important figures in Kanye’s life was his mother, Donda West. Like Kanye, Donda was a successful individual, and she served as the chair of Chicago State University’s Department of English, Communications, Media, and Theater. Kanye has never been shy about expressing his love for his mother, and his second album, Late Registration, features the song “Hey Mama,” which is dedicated to his mom. Unfortunately, disaster would strike in 2007 when Donda passed away. The passing of Kanye’s mother had a profound impact on him, with many linking the beginning of his controversial public antics to the death of his mother.
Since Donda’s death, Kanye’s mother has featured frequently in Kanye’s creative works, as seen in his latest album which was named after his mother. Interestingly, Kanye also tried to make a video game based on his mother. The game, titled Only One, was imagined as an iPhone game. Development was being handled by Encyclopedia Pictura, a film and animation studio in Los Angeles. As Kanye has explained, it was a linear game about getting Donda to heaven. A trailer for the game was shown at E3 2016, and it featured sublime imagery of an angelic version of Donda riding a winged horse through clouds. The game mechanics described were also interesting, as it was meant to be an “endless runner” that features no concept of death.
Unfortunately, not much has been seen or heard about the project since the E3 reveal in 2016, and most people who were anticipating the game have been wise enough to accept that it is likely never coming.
Kanye West Meets With Nintendo
During his long career, Kanye has worked with many big names from several industries. Hence, it should come as no surprise that his ventures in gaming would have him setting his sights on the best of the best. Kanye first approached Nintendo during an E3 event where he spoke to Shigeru Miyamoto, known for his work on legendary franchises such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong. Kanye requested to meet with the president of Nintendo America who was, at the time, Reggie Fils-Aime.
The meeting between Kanye and Reggie eventually occurred in Kanye’s fashion office in California. Kanye expressed interest in working with Nintendo in creating a new video game, and Reggie admits that Kanye had “a passion for the video game space.” However, Reggie ultimately turned Kanye down, telling him that “Nintendo would be incredibly difficult to work with because of its commitment to high-quality content.”
Kanye West Presents Turbo Grafx 16
Although Kanye has made many attempts to craft a video game, his big break in the gaming industry has yet to come. Nevertheless, video games continue to influence his music. In 2016, Kanye announced that he would release an album titled Turbo Grafx 16. The album is named after the TurboGrafx-16, also known as the PC Engine, which is a Japanese video game console released in 1987. According to Kanye, Blazing Lazers was his favorite game on that console.
In classic Kanye fashion, the album never saw the light of day, but Pete Rock, a producer Kanye works with, has shared an image listing some games that Kanye had intended to sample for the album. The list includes Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Sonic Colors, Super Mario Galaxy, Pikmin 2, and Okami, to name a few.
Although unexpected, Kanye’s relationship with gaming is a long one fueled by his love of video games, which began at a very early age. Though he has tried to venture into making games several times, he has yet to have an impact in gaming the way he has in music and fashion. Nevertheless, the creative genius does not look eager for early retirement, and there may be plenty of opportunities in the future for a Kanye West game to finally come into existence.
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About The Author
Smangaliso Simelane (133 Articles Published)
Smangaliso Simelane spends most of his time writing. When he isn’t working on his imaginary worlds, he is writing about video games.