Who: Hip-hop’s 39-year-old enfant terrible
Why: At the MTV VMAs in August, Kanye was given four minutes of airtime to introduce his new video for ‘Fade’. “I am Kanye West,” began his tribute to his own genius, “and that feels really great to say, especially this year.” Too right. The year might have been something of a rollercoaster ride for Kanye, but the highs were skyscrapingly good. With ‘The Life Of Pablo’ he offered up arguably his finest ever collection of work; an ever-evolving, star-studded release that pushed the boundaries of mainstream hip-hop further than ever before and confirmed his status as one of music’s most vital voices. The provocative 10-minute ‘Famous’ video earned the admiration of film legend Werner Herzog and also the shock of a public he’d played like a fiddle.
The epic, 20-track masterpiece also gave rise to his jaw-dropping ‘Saint Pablo’ tour, a feat of engineering and entertainment, with West performing on top of a moving platform suspended above the crowd amid a light show worthy of an alien landing. The tour reached 41 dizzying performances before its key player was hospitalised in November for “temporary psychosis due to sleep deprivation and dehydration”. An intense year, then, and one with a fittingly intense ending.
What he says: “Don’t be mad at the truth. When you don’t like me you are merely shooting the messenger.”
What people say about him: “We had a few afternoons at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The only deal I made with Kanye was that if it doesn’t work, we won’t tell anyone. I think he’s a great artist” – Paul McCartney
How he made the world a better place: By ensuring there was never a dull moment.
See more of the NME People Of The Year 2016 profiles