Kayne's coming

ImageIt's been quite a year for Kanye West.

His latest album, "Late Registration,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. His single “Gold Digger” is perched atop the singles chart.

Just this week, he donated a nearly $500,000 jewel-encrusted watch to London’s Natural History Museum, was named on of Barbara Walters’ 10 most fascinating people of the year and announced he’d join U2 on the supergroup’s tour beginning Dec. 14.

Before then, he’s headlining his own tour, which comes to Birmingham on Friday. Here are a few things to know about him:

- Before recording his own hip-hop CDs, he was a producer for the likes of Jay-Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys.

- A near-fatal car accident in October 2002 led to his breakthrough single, “Through the Wire,” which was literally about his jaw being wired shut.

- His debut CD, “The College Dropout,” sold 3 million copies. He earned 10 Grammy nominations and won three: Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song and Best R&B Song.

- Guests on “Late Registration” included Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx, Brandy, Paul Wall, Cam’ron, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and John Legend.

- After his single “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” became a hit, West became outspoken against the diamond trade and what he says is the criminal culture surrounding it.

- West’s comments about President Bush came while he was on live TV with Mike Myers during the “Concert for Hurricane Relief.” NBC apologized for his comments.

- West’s raps are a mix of wit and insight, a rare combination in mainstream hip-hop. His “Jesus Walks” was a critical and commercial smash. But the prince of Roc-a-Fella Records also touches on more common hip-hop themes, including sexuality.

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