Kanye West, now known as just Ye West, is without debate one of the more prolific music artists of all time. He has always been hailed as an extremely influential and experimental rapper, and his overall talent in the industry has allowed him to remain popular for far longer than most in the business do. Like Jay-Z, his now immense fortune is only partially due to his success in music. His many sought after clothing lines have made waves since the dawn of Yeezy’s, one of the most controversial and popular shoes to ever enter the market. His sense of business, talent in music, and ability to manipulate his publicity make him a very unique celebrity and have left few people to wonder how he has found his fame. However, for the same reasons, many are now wondering why he is purposefully destroying his reputation as an expense of maintaining this publicity.
West is no stranger to controversy and has pulled a number of bizarre stunts in front of an audience on many occasions. In 2005, Ye joined various celebrities in taking part in NBC’s “A Concert for Hurricane Relief” during the catastrophic Hurrican Katrina. He and actor Mike Myers were on screen soliciting donations for disaster relief services. Myers stuck to his formally written script, while Kanye famously blurted, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” With Myers being obviously taken off guard, and based on the content of the comment itself, it was obviously very off script. In 2009, West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards to tell her that Beyonce deserved the trophy. The two have feuded ever since.
Through these short and odd stunts, Ye mostly retained his popularity. His music was still quite mainstream but became more experimental over the years. The styles of his “Graudation” and “The College Dropout” albums became old news to him, and the bizarre pacing and lyrics of songs in “The Life of Pablo” and “Donda 2” began to become more associated with West’s name. He continued to pull small stunts like cancelling shows on the spot but remained more or less respectable for some years.
His current dive began during the Trump presidency. Former President Donald Trump’s comments and policies were very often at odds with the black community. As such, few to no rap artists publicly supported the president. Most made their lack of agreement with Trump known. Kanye, however, did the opposite, and quickly donned the famous red “MAGA” hat whilst sitting in the oval office with Trump himself. Kanye expressed his heartfelt agreement with a number of Trump’s more controversial comments and made his support of the president as public as he could. He went on to further immerse himself in the politically conservative community by befriending Candace Owens, an extremely conservative journalist of The Daily Wire, which is conservative journalist Ben Shapiro’s online political media platform.
Ye’s more recent moves have succeeded the Trump presidency and have been happening as recently as the last couple of days. At the Balenciaga Mud Show in Paris, West debuted his new line of clothing with shirts saying “White Lives Matter” on them. The phrase is meant to act as a counter to the Black Lives Matter movement that grew from police killings of multiple black men. With the term serving as direct opposition of the anti-racist messaging of Black Lives Matter, it is viewed by many as an objectively ignorant and racist term. West’s move to fire his entire public relations team days before the event speaks to the likelihood of his belief that the showing would be problematic. Even more recently, Ye has begun making antisemitic claims that a “Jewish cabal” is controlling the media and economy and must be stopped. Over the course of making this claim on numerous podcasts, he also tweeted “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” The tweet has since been taken down, and West has been banned on all major social media platforms. He has since apologized for his comments, but based on his ongoing reputation, it is far from expected that he will stop causing controversy any time soon.
West has been asked about his constant public relation dilemmas on multiple news stations and podcasts. While he is rarely apologetic, he has partially chalked up his mentality to mental illness. On several occasions, whether discussing his short marriage to Kim Kardashian or the aforementioned comments, he blames bipolar disorder as a major factor in his decisions. However, with a lack of concrete evidence that he actually has the disorder, many in the media and at home have remained skeptical that he may be searching for a scapegoat, as he is long past the ability to make up for most of his actions. Many also believe that he could be purposefully stirring controversy for publicity. The famous phrase “any publicity is good publicity” may be sitting in the back of his mind. It is entirely possible that, to him, the vast amount of hatred from society is worth the consistent relevance and wealth that it brings him. He has yet to make any reasoning behind any of his decision perfectly clear, so his thought processes continue to be subject to rumors and interpretation.
Kanye West is one of the most controversial celebrities to date and shows no signs of slowing down. From rumors that he may purchase conservative social media platform Parler to his increasing number of interviews with conservative journalists, many are left wondering if his future looks more political than artistic. While his ballot controversy certainly didn’t bode well, politics warrants publicity in many ways as well, and despite the may possible reasonings behind his moves, Kanye West has proven that he will do and say just about anything for attention. The only real question is just how far he’ll continue to go.