Some Yeezy trivia many fans may not know: At the age of 10, Kanye West moved with his mother Donda to Nanjing, Jiangsu province, where Donda was a lecturer at Nanjing University. A recent post on the Rap Genius forums has unearthed a photo of the young Kanye in 1987.
This is crazy. My dad is an astronomy professor, and we just had dinner with his astronomy advisor from Harvard. He asked what I was into and I told him about my ventures into hip-hop (I’m a rapper/producer). He asked if I knew about Kanye West, and obviously being a Ye stan I kept my cool and told him yes. He then told me that him and Donda West were good friends and co-teachers in China, and he got to spend a great deal of time playing with Kanye as a kid. Out of nowhere he whips out this picture and my jaw-drops. He said Kanye was a really sweet kid who wasn’t afraid to speak to adults and ask questions.
Donda West earned a doctoral degree from Auburn University in 1980, and later moved to to Nanjing as part of the Fulbright scholarship. During Kanye's short time in Nanjing, he was a classmate of future Re-TROS singer Hua Dong, who described their time together in an interview:
At that time, my parents worked in the same university as Kanye's mom, so I went to the same primary school as he did, and we were in the same class, I remember that we played together a lot and had a really good friendship, unfortunately, we lost contact after he went back to US, but it was not until several years ago I read a report about him in some kind of magazine by accident which introduced his experience in Nanjing, I suddenly realized that this superstar was my little friend when we were both in childhood. You know, sometimes, life is full of miracles and surprises!
In a 2011 interview, Yeezy spoke about his experiences in China:
I think being in China got me ready to be a celeb because, at that time, a lot of Chinese had never seen a black person. They would always come up and also stare at me, fishbowl me and everything. And that’s kind of the way it is for me right now.
I used to say something in Chinese that I just knew by instinct meant ‘get away!’. They’d rub your skin. They’d ask you how old your mother is. I went to school there but it was hard because I didn’t speak Chinese that well. They had me in third grade when I was really supposed to be in fifth grade. We were in Nanjing. But let me tell you one thing I learned about school – the whole period of College Dropout when we were in China. My mother had to take me out and home school me because couldn’t speak the language I wasn’t excelling. That can throw a kid off slightly. So then when I went back to school, I had to do some tests. I sent them and they thought my mother did them for me, that I cheated. When I went there, I had to take the test again while they monitored me. Ever since then I was always two grades which means that whole time they weren’t teaching me at the level I needed to be taught at. That’s why I’d always get in trouble. I dropped out of College because I was bored out of mind.
[Image: Rap Genius, Wikipedia // Via: Bridget O'Donnell]