Who is Ray West? The untold story of Kanye West's father

Who is Ray West? The untold story of Kanye West's father

Ray West is most popularly known as the father of the award-winning rapper, Kanye West. Although he had been doing his thing within the entertainment industry and trying to make a positive difference in the world in whatever way he could, he never became famous until his only son, Kanye, shot into the limelight.

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Ray West
Kanye and his father. Photo: @kkwlive
Source: Instagram

Ray West is popularly known for his photography skills and undying desire to help the less privileged. He has been helping people who have and are still falling at risk for the consequences of societal problems. He is a role model for his offspring and the people around him.

Profile summary

  • Birth name: Ray West
  • Date of birth: 28th August 1949
  • Age: 72 years old (as of 2021)
  • Profession: Photo-Journalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist
  • Birthplace/hometown: Tucson, Arizona, United States of America
  • Nationality: American
  • Sexuality: Straight
  • Current residence: Dominican Republic
  • Religion: Christianity
  • Ethnicity: African
  • Zodiac sign: Virgo
  • Eye colour: Brown
  • Hair colour: Black
  • Parents: James Frederick West Sr, Fannie B. West
  • Siblings: James Jr, Wayne, Jeanette, Wanda, and Sheila
  • Marital status: Divorced
  • Children: Kanye
  • Grandchildren: North, Psalm, Chicago, and Saint West

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Background information

The photo-journalist and activist was born on the 28th August 1949, in Tucson, Arizona, United States of America. Kanye West's father is currently 72 years old.

Ray's parents were James Frederick West Sr. and Fannie B. West, and he lived together with his five siblings: James Jr, Wayne, Jeanette, Wanda, and Sheila West.

However, nothing is public about Kanye West's dad's education. So, it is unknown whether he obtained a tertiary degree or not.

Ray West
Kanye and his father bond in the music video for Follow God. Photo: @bellanaija
Source: Twitter


Ray West has tried his hands on several professions, and even right now, he is somewhere in the Dominican Republic doing something new. He is mostly known for his participation in the Black Panther Movement between the 1960s and 1970s, though this association ended after his only child, Kanye, was born.

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He went on to work as a photo-journalist with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and is credited with great works like the pictures of civil rights activist Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, President of United States, Ronald Reagan, and the portrait of civil rights activist and poet, Maya Angelou. He held his own in that profession.

Kanye also revealed during an interview that his father worked other odd jobs like owning a store, being a paparazzo, and acting as a counsellor to young Christian couples.

The Good Water Store and Cafe is something that Ray is dedicated to, and he uses it to help alleviate the problem of basic water infrastructure that his community suffers from. This was as far back as 2006 in Lexington Park, Maryland, United States of America.

At some point, he decided to embark on a charity endeavour and chose the Dominican Republic as the country where his works would make more sense. He has been living there since then and only visits America occasionally.

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Personal life

Ray has been involved with several women and married at least three. His first wife was Donda West (Neé Williams), an author and educator.

Interestingly, Donda had a child with Ray in 1977, although the couple divorced when Kanye, their child, was about three years old. Therefore, Donda was primarily responsible for Kanye's upbringing because he stayed with her and only visited his dad during the summer holidays.

After the divorce, Ray, who resides in Atlanta, got married to Cheryl Carmichael West and later Brenda Bentley. But, unfortunately, both marriages also ended in a divorce.

Ray West-Kanye West relationship

Kanye West might have spent most of his life with his mother, Donda, but he is filled with the utmost respect for his dad. Even though he only got to see him on holiday, Kanye thinks Ray tried his best to ensure that some of his basic needs were met while he was growing up.

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Ray West
Kanye with his parents. Photo: @PhotosOfKanye
Source: Twitter

Kanye talked about some of his father's sacrifices in songs like Father Stretch My Hands, a single track off his Life of Pablo album. The rapper said he cried as he penned the song and professed his love for his father.

The song's lyrics noted how badly he missed him and how much he identified with his pains, including different divorces. Ray was also featured in Kanye's music video for Follow God's track.

Is Ray West still alive?

Yes, he is alive and lives in the Dominican Republic. He received positive results from a prostate cancer diagnosis. He travelled back to America to have this treated and spent most of the time bonding with his son, Kanye, on the latter's 4000-acre ranch.

Ray's ex-wife thinks he is putting himself at risk every day by choosing to remain in the Dominican Republic amidst the intense earthquakes and high rate of crimes in the area.

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Ray West is the father of a celebrity but continues to live a low-key life even when he can afford to live a flashy life. He has shown that a man can go through some of the most challenging periods of his life and still maintain humanity, ethics, and social value.

Reading the story of Suzette Quintanilla, a multi-talented woman is truly inspiring. As published on Yen.com.gh, Suzette is a musician, executive movie director, and producer, and businesswoman doing everything possible to keep her family's legacy up there.

Suzette Quintanilla is the late Selena Quintanilla's sister. Selena was the famous Queen of Tejano Music in the 1980s and early 1990s. Read the article for more fascinating facts about her.

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