By Sarah Bennett
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Photo by Nabil ElderkimHis story is a hip-hop fairy tale: for years, Kanye West's beatmaking and production skills bounced around behind-the-scenes on albums by Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Talib Kweli, Ludacris, Janet Jackson and Lil' Kim, but, to put it in his own words, "It's funny how wasn't nobody interested/Till the night I almost killed myself in Lexus." In 2002, a near-fatal car accident put Kanye behind the mic with his jaw wired shut. His faith and his sense of humor intact, he rapped through clenched teeth, and his record went platinum. But what else do you really know about Top 40 radio's steel-jawed darling? Would you have to drop out of Kanye State?
1)The title of Kanye West's platinum 2004 release, College Dropout, suggests he pursued higher education for at least a little while. Where did he go to school?
2) Which of the following songs has not (yet) been sampled by West:
a) Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire"
b) -Luther Vandross' "A House Is Not a Home"
c) Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"
d) Jackson 5's "I Want You Back"
3) On "Spaceship," West raps about the trials and tribulations of working at the Gap. His pet peeves include:
a) -working the graveyard shift and not getting paid shit
b) -getting accused of stealing khakis
c) -being pushed toward African-American customers as the store's "token blackie"
d) all of the above
4) Kanye's mama is Donda West, recognized for her career as:
a) an English professor
b) -owner of a Southern takeout joint called Mama Dukes
c) a nurse in the Canadian Navy
d) -a bank teller in the Cayman Islands
5) Ray West, Kanye's father, has remained close with his son despite his break-up with Donda when Kanye was a tot. Ray has worn many hats, such as:
a) -a door-to-door salesman, a waiter and a math teacher
b) -a studio musician, a bartender and a newspaper reporter
c) -a Black Panther, an award-winning photojournalist and a marriage counselor
d) -a Naval Reservist, a published novelist and an avid bird-watcher
6) At the end of the year, West will be launching a new clothing line called Mascott. Once he starts sporting his own designer threads, the press will have trouble maintaining his current nickname:
a) The Prada Marauder
b) The Louis Vuitton Don
c) The Diesel Weasel
d) The Gucci Gucci Goon
7) TRUE OR FALSE: West, the Renaissance man that he is, also dabbles in jewelry design. In April, he created a Jesus piece, depicting a Caucasian Christ. The follow-up will be a black Christ titled "Grandma's Jesus."
Give yourself one point for each question you answer you got right.
Seven to eight points: Jesus, are you West's mama or do you just watch way too much MTV News?Four to six points: though you're not quite savvy enough to drop out of college and sign a deal with Roc-a-Fella yourself, you've got a healthy knowledge of West and the brains to show up at Powerhouse this weekend. One to three points: according to West, "Ooh, girl, your breath is harsh. Cover your mouth up like you got SARS." Hey, at least you've still got the Shins sending you their love through your iPod ear buds. Kanye West appears with Ludacris, Big Boi, Too $Hort, Beastie Boys and more at Power 106 FM's Powerhouse 2004, Arrowhead Pond, 2965 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2500. Thur., July 1, 8 p.m. $40 - $95. All ages.