An intimate look at the ultimate pop culture power couple
Favorites of the paparazzi, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are both worth millions in their own right. She is the queen of reality TV and an all-around business mogul, he's a rapper, fashion designer, and outspoken award show favorite. Together they are Kimye—glitzy, globetrotting icons and parents of one very stylish kid, North West. Without question they are the biggest news in entertainment today, making headlines around the world on a daily basis. Amerca's "other" first couple were friends before the hooked up, although Kanye admitted to holding a torch for Kim for years. They may have their share of haters, and Kim came under fire when she filed for divorce from Humphries less than three months after their wedding. But in a recent lavish Italian ceremony fit for royalty, she and Kanye tied the knot, cementing their superstar status once and for all. Nadia Cohen's brilliant biography traces the rise of Kimye, the world's most glamorous couple.
|Publisher:||John Blake Publishing, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Nadia Cohen is an entertainment journalist who has worked at a number of national newspapers and magazines including the Daily Mail. As a showbusiness correspondent she covered film festivals, premieres, and award ceremonies around the world. Nadia was headhunted for the launch of In Touch Weekly, and spent several years living and working in New York.
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Kim & Kanye
The Love Story
By Nadia Cohen
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2015 Nadia Cohen
All rights reserved.
HUMBLE – AND NOT SO HUMBLE – BEGINNINGS
Although Kim Kardashian and Kanye West appear to be a match made in heaven, the Hollywood power couple began their lives worlds apart.
Kimberly Noel Kardashian was born on 21 October 1980 into a life of unimaginable luxury. Alongside her sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie, and brother Rob, Kim's indulgent upbringing was like something out of a fairy tale. Her father was the multi-millionaire lawyer Robert Kardashian, who gained notoriety when he defended his best friend, OJ Simpson, at his controversial murder trial. He had met Kim's mother, Kristen Mary Houghton, in 1972, at a racetrack in San Diego, having been introduced by a mutual friend. She was just seventeen at the time, and working as a flight attendant, while Robert was a law student eleven years her senior. Despite the age gap, the pair were smitten and married within four years, deciding to raise their family in a sprawling mansion on Tower Lane, one of the most exclusive addresses in star -studded Beverly Hills.
There were only three houses in the exclusive cul-de-sac. One belonged to the world-famous singer Bruce Springsteen, and on the other side lived an eccentric millionaire who kept a garden full of peacocks and llamas. Chat show host Jay Leno was a close neighbour too. The Kardashian kids had everything they could wish for – dozens of pets including cats named Coco and Chanel, hamsters, turtles, Doberman and Bichon Frisé dogs, even a woodpecker and four white mice named Eenie, Meanie, Miney and Moe.
Tucked away at the end of that private road, behind a long drive, their vast home boasted a pool shaped like a duck alongside an egg-shaped jacuzzi. There was a tennis court, and a pool house with a bar. Little wonder then that the Kardashian compound was where all the local children wanted to hang out. In her book, Kardashian Konfidential, Kim recalled how her friends used to come over for tennis lessons, and Kris brought out Girl Scout cookies and ice tea to wash them down with. She said that those times would forever be embedded in the minds of her and her sisters.
The children had an idyllic childhood, full of fun and over-the-top birthday parties with pony rides and petting zoos. Kim even celebrated her fourteenth birthday at Michael Jackson's famous ranch, Neverland, where she and her friends enjoyed amusement park rides, movies and a zoo with baby elephants!
The parties their parents threw were legendary too, and gave Kim a flair for lavish entertaining which would be evident when she married Kanye many years later. She recalled one New Year's Eve celebration with a can-can theme when Kris sent out life-size chocolate legs as invitations: 'Our parents just loved to entertain and have people over – and people just loved coming over to be entertained! Tower Lane was truly party central.'
Giving an insight into their close-knit family bond, which was to characterise them later in life, Kim explained in her book Kardashian Konfidential that Christmas had always been a favourite holiday of hers. Her mum Kris used to decorate the entire house from top to bottom after Thanksgiving, complete with a themed tree which changed each year. Every Christmas Eve would see a huge party descend on the Kardashian household, and sometimes her father would dress up as Santa (Kim added that she had believed in Santa for far longer than most of her friends!).
She remembered how the family would wake up at five or six in the morning, and the house would be charged with nervous energy and excitement.
But sometimes sibling rivalry would spoil the festive harmony: one year Kim ended up in tears because she received a fish tank instead of what she'd asked for, but her siblings would usually get the things on their lists. One year, Kim had asked for a watch she had wanted all year, and didn't get it – and then it turned out that Kourtney, who was one year ahead of her in school, got the very same watch for her graduation present.
After her parents divorced in 1991, the girls would usually go to Robert's house for the afternoons and later eat dinner with Khloe's godparent, the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, and his wife at their house.
Kim said that her most memorable Christmas was the year when her dad walked in unannounced and threw a set of keys at Khloe. It turned out he had given her a brand new Mercedes! The whole family were excited by that gift.
For Robert, family was more important than anything else. Despite his high-flying career, he was fully involved in his children's daily routines, would check their homework and even coached school soccer games. He insisted they always had dinner together, banned phones from the table and every night would go around asking everyone to say what was 'the peak and the pit' of their day. Although he has long since passed away, the family still play 'The Peak and The Pit' when they gather together for special occasions.
When asked recently about the peaks and pits of her life, Kim said in her book Kardashian Konfidential that the biggest peak was her great, happy childhood, and making her greatest friends, people she'd known since pre-school and who she knew would stay with her for life.
As for the pits, she highlighted her 'annoying' relationship history, claiming she felt one hundred years old and bored of the dating game.
Needless to say, Kardashian family holidays were equally lavish affairs – to Mexico, Palm Springs or Hawaii, and Thanksgiving was always spent skiing in the exclusive Colorado mountain resort of Vail, where they would rent a luxurious house with a hot tub and indoor swimming pool.
Meanwhile, Kanye West had a vastly different upbringing from his future wife. Born on 8 June 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia, by the time he was three his parents had divorced and he moved with his mother Donda to Chicago. His political activist father Ray was a member of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary socialist organisation active in the United States from 1966 until 1982. The party gained international notoriety with its doctrine calling for the protection of black neighbourhoods from police brutality.
Ray was also one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and later became a Christian counsellor. In 2006, Kanye helped him open The Good Water Store and Café in Maryland. The rapper's mother, Dr. Donda C. Williams West, was a Professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and became the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to become Kanye's manager.
When Kanye was ten, he and Donda moved to Nanjing, China, where she was teaching as part of a university exchange programme. According to his mother, Kanye was the only foreigner in his class, but settled in well and quickly picked up the language, although he has since forgotten most of it. When asked about his grades in high school, West replied with a typical lack of modesty: 'I got A's and B's. And I'm not even frontin'.
Kanye showed a talent for the arts from an early age; he began writing poetry and became passionate about music when he was just five years old. As a teenager growing up back in Chicago, he became deeply involved in the city's hip-hop scene, and started writing musical raps, which he sold to other artists. At the age of thirteen, Kanye wrote his first rap song, called 'Green Eggs and Ham', and managed to persuade Donda to pay $25 an hour for him to have recording sessions in a small basement recording studio, where a microphone hung from the ceiling by a wire clothes hanger. His first recording had been inspired by his favourite childhood book by Dr Seuss, and showed an early talent for rapping.
Although this was far from the career that highly academic Donda had imagined for her son, she supported him and paid for the studio time he wanted. At fifteen, while still a student at West Aurora High School, Kanye met and formed a close friendship with a producer called No I.D., also known as 'The Godfather of Chicago Hip Hop'. No I.D. soon became his mentor, and taught Kanye how to sample and programme beats. In 1997 Kanye won a scholarship to attend Chicago's American Academy of Art and began taking painting classes, but shortly after transferred to Chicago State University to major in English, much to his mother's relief.
However, it soon became apparent to Kanye that his busy class schedule was interfering with his music, and at the age of twenty he made the decision to drop out of college to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. His mother, who was a professor at the university, was devastated when her son abandoned his studies. In an interview with Chicago Tribune, she said 'It was drummed into my head that college is the ticket to a good life, but some career goals don't require college.' She said later: 'For Kanye to make an album called College Dropout it was more about having the guts to embrace who you are, rather than following the path society has carved out for you.'
While Kanye was ambitious and working hard to follow his chosen career in the highly competitive music world in his twenties, Kim's life was a whirlwind of parties and shopping as she became known as one of Hollywood's best connected socialites. She was hanging out with a high-profile group of 'It Girls', including Paris Hilton, and openly admitted that her ambition in life was to be a reality TV star.
Busy trying to find a way to move into the spotlight, Kim took it coolly in her stride when her parents divorced in 1991, and her mother married Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner, just five months after meeting him on a blind date. In Kardashian Konfidential, she said perhaps she was less affected by the divorce because she was so anxious over the overwhelming changes to her body. The splitting up of her parents happened to coincide with the hormone-fuelled upheaval of puberty, and Kim was becoming upset with how she was developing physically. Whilst she had always had a 'big butt', it was her breasts which were bothering her. She was so embarrassed and struggling to cope with the scary side of transforming into an adult.
She recalled sitting in the bathtub and putting hot cloths over her breasts to try and shrink them back down, whilst praying that they had done growing. Her mother Kris had always said she would one day embrace those curves – and she was right. Kim owns her curvaceous body like no one else these days.
Kim had started to become body conscious from an early age. By the age of eleven she was having her eyebrows waxed by her mother, and by thirteen she was getting bikini waxes.
After Kris and Robert's divorce, the girls attended an all-girls Catholic school and divided their time between two homes – they would spend ten days with their mother, followed by five days with their father. She later asserted that both her parents always made sure they put their girls first. Even in the midst of their divorce, they united and never tried to win favour at the other's expense. It opened Kim's eyes to a whole new way to relate to her family.
But their lives were thrown into chaos in 1994 when basketball player OJ Simpson was arrested for the murder of his wife, Nicole. Fiercely loyal, Robert renewed his legal licence and vowed to defend OJ, who even stayed at their house in the aftermath of his wife's shocking death. Robert passionately believed in his innocence. Suddenly thrust into the glare of the public eye, the family received death threats, and were publicly abused, but Kim said later that they never answered when people asked what their thoughts on the trial outcome were. It was such a painful and traumatic period for all the family that it continues to shape who they are today, and is not up for discussion.
Despite his wealth, Robert was determined not to spoil his children. Although he brought each of them cars in high school he made them sign legal-style contracts promising to keep their grades up and when Kim had a crash in her BMW when she was sixteen, he made her work in a clothing store to pay for the repairs. In Kardashian Konfidential, she recalled that she didn't appreciate her parents' efforts to teach them responsibility at the time, but now she is incredibly grateful for the iron work ethic it taught her.
Robert also taught his children that money would not buy them happiness, and took them all to see homeless people to help them understand how blessed they were.
Kim remained close to her father until his death, aged fifty-nine, from oesophageal cancer in 2003, just eight weeks after he was diagnosed with the disease. Six weeks before his death he remarried and most of his fortune went to his new wife. Kim spoke movingly at his funeral and has since said that after Robert's death, the family forged an even tighter bond than before, saying 'We exchange "I love you's" more since our dad died. He used to say it all the time to us. He'd never get off the phone without an "I love you" and we all still do that with each other.'CHAPTER 2
Had they met in their teens, Kim and Kanye would probably have loathed each other. While he was hanging out with the bad boys of rap in the Chicago underworld, Kim was a squeaky-clean Madonna fan and dated Michael Jackson's nephew TJ for five years.
But when that relationship broke up, Kim found it hard to bounce back and started to feel insecure about her shapely body, admitting that she often didn't feel skinny enough. Being a super-curvy girl, she got used to not seeing any models or high-profile celebrities with a figure like hers.
'This really great relationship I had in high school ended. I thought everything had been perfect and I didn't understand why we were breaking up, and it was really hard on me.
'From that moment on I began to feel a loss of self-esteem. And I gained a little bit of weight, maybe from trying to use food to comfort myself, and the extra weight made me feel worse.
'After that I would date anyone who would give me attention. People that I knew on some level just weren't good for me. I knew I was unhappy, but I couldn't bring myself to say so. I might try to end the relationship but then I would hold back because I had such a difficult time coming out and saying something that might hurt someone else. It wasn't just guys. I let people treat me any way they wanted and never stood up for myself. I was a doormat.
'I was very dependent on people so I would go from boyfriend to boyfriend and never had a chance to be single.'
When she was nineteen Kim shocked her family by marrying Damon Thomas, a music producer ten years her senior, in a whirlwind Vegas wedding which she attempted to keep secret from her sisters. But after Kourtney found her marriage certificate online, she told their parents, who were furious. Kim was so angry she refused to speak to her sister for four months: 'That was definitely the longest time any of us ever were in a fight,' Kim revealed. 'Nothing since has come close.'
The marriage lasted three years, and they ended on bad terms.
But Kim's father forgave her and gave his daughter her first job at his company Movie Tunes, which supplies music to cinemas. Kim spent her days burning and sending out CDs, and there was no special treatment for the boss's daughter, and she admitted that it was a good lesson for later in life, and taught her the valuable lesson that she could be business-like with people that she was close with.
A self-confessed shopaholic, Kim quickly moved on and set up her own business organising the contents of people's wardrobes, and later became a stylist to celebrity clients, including her friend Paris Hilton. In Kardashian Konfidential she recalled how she stumbled upon the idea of becoming a professional stylist. As a stylist, she learned some good tricks for highlighting her best features – accentuating her sister Khloe's long legs was one example, but her mother Kris had never liked her arms and Kim always managed to hide them when planning an outfit for her. For herself, the most important thing was to try to accentuate her curvy figure and narrow waist by using belts to play with perspective.
Excerpted from Kim & Kanye by Nadia Cohen. Copyright © 2015 Nadia Cohen. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 HUMBLE – AND NOT SO HUMBLE – BEGINNINGS,
CHAPTER 2 GROWING UP,
CHAPTER 3 LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?,
CHAPTER 4 HEATING UP,
CHAPTER 5 CLEARING THE WAY FOR MARRIAGE,
CHAPTER 6 A BABY ON THE WAY!,
CHAPTER 7 THE ARRIVAL OF NORTH WEST,
CHAPTER 8 SHE SAID YES!,
CHAPTER 9 ENJOYING THEIR ENGAGEMENT,
CHAPTER 10 WEDDING PLANS,
CHAPTER 11 A CHANGE OF PLAN,
CHAPTER 12 MR & MRS WEST!,
CHAPTER 13 THE HONEYMOON,