Thanks to his stream-of-consciousness style tweets, Kanye West's life is practically an open book. Everything from his support of Leonardo DiCaprio to his beef with deadmau5 is right there on Twitter. Although he occasionally posts about wife Kim Kardashian and their two kids, Saint and North, 'Ye doesn't talk about his own father too often, so a recent tweet about he and his dad loving gospel musician Kirk Franklin stood out. I can't help but wonder: Who is Kanye West's dad? I decided to dig up everything fans should know about Ray West — besides the fact that he's a big fan of Franklin. Like his son, he's taken on a variety of career endeavors over the years.
On The Life Of Pablo, there's a track called "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1." In February, Kanye tweeted about the song and said, "I cried writing this. I love my Dad." Lyrics on the track include,
Sorry that I ain’t call you back
The same problems my father had
All his time
All he had
All he had
In what what he dreamed
All his cash
Hurt him bad
People get divorced for that
Drop some stacks, Pops is good
Momma pass in Hollywood
Kanye's late mother Donda and his father Ray got divorced when he was just 3 years old. As the lyrics above imply, it may have been related to financial issues. He was primarily raised by his mother, but spent summers with his dad, the Daily Mail reports.
"Father Stretch My Hands" isn't the only track that mentions his dad. In 2007, his song "Champion" from Graduation compared his relationship with his father to that of Will Smith's character in The Pursuit of Happyness. He raps,
I don't know I just want it better for my kids
And I ain't saying we was from the projects
But every time I wanna layaway or deposit
My dad'd say "when you see clothes, close your eyelids"
We was sort of like Will Smith and his son
In the movie — I ain't talking 'bout the rich ones
Cause every summer
He'll get some brand new harebrained scheme to get rich from
And I don't know what he did for dough
But he'll send me back to school with a new wardrobe
Once again, this implies some financial struggles, yet it seems like his dad always came through when it came to providing for his son. As for his father's background, Ray was a Black Panther in the '60s and '70s. After that, he was one of the first black photojournalists at the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, as reported by the newspaper itself. He even photographed former President Ronald Reagan, as well as Maya Angelou.
In addition to those prestigious credentials, his dad once worked as a paparazzo, according to Kanye himself. In a 2014 deposition related to a lawsuit about an altercation with a celebrity photographer in Los Angeles, the rapper said, "My father was a paparazzo himself. My father was a medical illustrator, a Black Panther, a Christian marriage counselor." Like Kanye — who is a rapper, fashion designer, and possible presidential hopeful — his dad has worn many hats. He even opened up the Good Water Store and Cafe in Lexington Park, Maryland in 2006, according to The Washington Post. Apparently the "Ultralight Beam" singer lent him money to get the business off the ground.
Although he may have been raised mostly by his mother, it's clear there's still love between Kanye and his dad. After all, the truth is in the tweets.