As rapper Kanye West and reality TV star Kim Kardashian prepare to welcome their first child together next summer, the spotlight on their love affair and foray into parenthood promises to only burn brighter.
We last saw West in the UAE back in 2010 when he opened the Yasalam After-Race concerts for the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live on Yas Island.
“Stage in Abu Dhabi... Craze!” proclaimed an excited West after showing thousands of fans an amazing night.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. Kanye let his nine million Twitter fans know that he’d had a chance to enjoy “Abu Dhabi hobbies” including “sky diving, dune buggies and vintage jewellery and the fastest roller coaster” during his trip, and has kept the Middle East at the forefront of his mind since.
Hip-hop’s most egotistical star and musical genius will finally be returning to the UAE on January 31 for a one-off performance on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. For fans who witnessed his first foray in the capital, West’s quick return to the stage here is no surprise.
So taken was West with the region that he decided to create his first short film, Cruel Summer, based on Arabic folklore. The movie, which was released in 2012 at Cannes Film Festival, tells the tale of a car thief who falls in love with a blind Arabian princess. With a set of less-than-impressed parents and a battlefield of challenges to overcome in order to be together, it is a classic love story.
Whilst West did consider shooting the movie against a UAE backdrop, he settled on Doha and made history when he cast Sarah A, an intern at the Doha Film Institute, as the leading lady – the first female Qatari to star in a movie. Sarah, who is a producer at heart and only accepted the role as it offered such a unique experience, said that the movie “represents the East in a more beautiful way - it shows the beauty of the region and how most of the region is”.
Lebanese actress Razane Jammal, who plays the Queen in Cruel Summer, had nothing bad to say about West as a director. She said, “He knows what he’s doing, he’s very sharp, he’s very sweet, he’s so hard working.”
But it was the accompanying soundtrack and the unique way in which the movie was shot that really captivated the audience. At Cannes, the short film was premiered on not one, but seven screens in a custom built pyramid-shaped screening pavilion. Each screen showed a different perspective on the action and West told MTV that the project was an attempt to “change entertainment experiences. Like if McQueen or Tarsem was to meet the entertainment value of Cirque du Soleil or Walt Disney.”
It seems to us no coincidence that Kanye has ended up with a woman who shares his love of the region.
Kanye’s girlfriend and soon to be ‘baby mama’ Kim Kardashian is no stranger to the UAE either, having visited to launch the first Millions of Milkshakes store outside of the US and promote her self-named perfume. Kim has been at Kanye’s side since they started dating in April 2012 and he let slip at a recent gig that they were expecting a baby together. But the jury is still out on whether Kim will be joining her beau in Abu Dhabi later this month when he returns to du Forum, Yas Island on January 31. West will be taking to the stage to perform tracks from his platinum-selling albums including Gold Digger, Heartless and Love Lockdown, alongside tracks from Cruel Summer.
We’re sure Kim will jump at the chance for another trip to Abu Dhabi, and we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for a signature pair of stilettos backstage.
1) The name Kanye means “the only one” in Swahili.
2) At age 10, Kanye spent a year in Nanjing, China, where his mother was a visiting professor.
3) Kanye broke down at a concert in Paris, a week after the passing of his mother, Dr. Donda West, as he tried to sing the verses of Hey Mama, a song he had written earlier on in his career in dedication to her.
4) West has a metal plate in his chin from a near fatal accident in which he was involved in October 2002. He was driving home from a studio session and fell asleep behind the steering wheel and crashed into another car.
5) After the success of The College Dropout, West bought himself an 18th-century aquarium with about 30 koi fish in it. In the middle of the tank is a cherub-shaped gold fountain resting on a marble base.
6) Kanye attended Chicago State University/Columbia College in Chicago. He dropped out to pursue music which is why he named his 2004 debut album The College Dropout.
Kings of hip-hop
Kanye West collaborated with long time friend Jay-Z on the studio album Watch the Throne which was released in 2011. The rappers had originally set out to record a five-song EP together, but the project ended up as a full-length album.
The albumincorporates orchestral and progressive rock influences, unconventional samples, and dramatic melodies. Jay-Z and West’s lyrics exhibit themes of opulence, fame, materialism, power and the burdens of success, as well as political and socioeconomic context. The album expresses other topics such as Jay-Z’s thoughts on fatherhood, West’s reflection on being deemed a social villain, and their legacy as performers.
The album spawned seven singles, including the international hits Otis, Paris and No Church in the Wild. The Watch the Throne Tour went on to become the highest grossing hip-hop concert tour in history.
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