Sure, these days he’s known as a tough-guy rapper and a fashion guru, but there was a time—way back in 80s—when Kanye West was just a kid with a jean jacket and white kicks… in China.
As That's Online first reported, a photo from Kanye West’s childhood has surfaced online through a fan forum on RapGenius.com. The user, who goes by the screen name “Frak,” explained that his father is an astronomy professor, and he recently met his father’s advisor—also a professor—who asked “Frak” if he was a fan of Kanye West; he then explained that he and Yeezy’s mother, Donda, were good friends when they both taught in Nanjing and revealed the childhood pic of the Yeezus rapper as a kid.
According to Donda’s obituary that ran in the Los Angeles Times, the woman who inspired his hit “Hey Mama” taught in Nanjing as a Fullbright Scholar.
Kanye has been candid about his childhood experiences in China; in 2011, he told the Sabotage Times that living in a foreign country helped prepare him for fame.
“I think being in China got me ready to be a celeb because, at that time, a lot of Chinese [people] had never seen a black person,” he explained. “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.
When Kanye appeared on Kris this summer, he told his future mother in law that his experiences in China helped form his belief that “people should want to go on vacation or just want to travel because that’s what opens people’s minds.”
So how much has Kanye changed since he was just a fifth grader in China? Well, we’ll let you decide for yourself.
According to RapGenius user Frak, his father’s adviser said, “Kanye was a really sweet kid who wasn’t afraid to speak to adults and ask questions.”