Kanye West‘s ex-fiancée Alexis Phifer has unearthed the original sketches of the rapper’s iconic “dropout bear.”
On Saturday (February 10), which marked the 20th anniversary of West’s debut album The College Dropout, Phifer shared the drawings on social media while offering some first-hand backstory.
“One evening in 2004, Kanye was putting together all the creative ideas for his College Dropout album,” wrote fashion designer Phifer, who dated the Chicago native between 2002 and 2008.
“He had this idea of making the bear his mascot for the project. With Ralph Lauren being a huge inspiration for him as a creative, he fashioned his mascot bear similar to the RL bear.”
She continued: “With the record label asking him for the ideas he had in mind, Kanye started to sketch out his vision that evening at my house. First he started with the heads, the then body, then the belt.
“After he was done and pleased with what he had, he faxed the sketches the next day to the record label. After faxing his final idea, he was about to throw the sketches away! That’s when I asked if I could keep the art work instead.”
“In the 5 sketches you see the development of the ideas of the bear which eventually landed on the cover of the College Dropout album which is a hip hop classic,” she concluded. “It was the beginning of what would mark one of the most influential rapper’s life and legacy.”
Kanye West’s ex-fiancé shares original “College Dropout” bear sketches 🤯 pic.twitter.com/DDAwahLpyg
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) February 12, 2024
In related news, Kanye West‘s daughter North recently flexed her own artistic talents with an impressive sketch of her father.
Among the collection of photos was a hand-drawn portrait of the duo courtesy of 10-year-old North. The sketch showed Kanye wearing a Vultures t-shirt and sporting a “¥$” tattoo on his right arm, while Ty Dolla could be seen with matching ink on his cheek.
“Last slide by Ms Ms Westy!” the R&B singer wrote in the caption, referencing Ye’s daughter’s verse on their album.
The sketch served as further proof that talent runs in the West family, with Kanye himself displaying artistic prowess during his younger years.
As a teen, the Yeezy mogul received a scholarship to Chicago’s American Academy of Art, where he sharpened his craft as a fine arts student. (He later transferred to Chicago State University to study English before famously dropping out.)
In 2020, some of Kanye’s early drawings appeared in an episode of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow after one of the rapper’s cousins came into possession of the collection following the death of his mother Donda West.
The assortment of paintings and drawings was valued between $16,000 and $32,000, with appraiser Laura Woolley saying: “I think these pieces demonstrate an extraordinary facility as an artist.”