Kanye West stands out as one of the most well-known musicians of the decade. In just the past five years, he has earned a whopping 14 Grammys, and received an additional 22 nominations. Overall, he has sold more than 10 million albums and almost 30 million digital song downloads -- in just the United States. What's even more impressive is that it almost didn't happen.
Kanye West first began making his name as a music producer at Roc-a-Fella Records. After producing a successful song for Jay-Z, he took a more prominent role in Jay-Z's 2001 album, "The Blueprint." He soon became one of the most sought-after producers in the hip-hop industry, but wanted more. His initial requests for a record deal were turned down because music executives felt that he didn't portray the street image of hip-hop. Eventually, they relented and gave him a chance.
The executives weren't the only hurdle for Kanye. A serious car accident almost ended his life in 2002. Fortunately, he pulled through, and the event inspired several tracks on his debut album, "The College Dropout," which was released in 2004 to huge success. It would eventually be certified double platinum. As Kanye released his next three albums, "Late Registration" in 2006, "Graduation" in 2007, and "808's and Heartbreak" in 2008, they continued to be certified multi-platinum, and the awards kept coming. He continued to include various musical styles -- never settling for what was expected.
Throughout his successes, Kanye West has been a friend to Ellen. He has constantly stopped by for performances and has premiered songs and videos exclusively on the show. His latest project is a 40-minute film to accompany the release of his new album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." He surprised Ellen and her audience with an unexpected visit and premiered exclusive footage from the film.