Wake Up Mr. West!


Lucas Parent, Lion's Roar Staff

     I miss the old Kanye, straight-from-the-go Kanye, chop up the soul Kanye, doesn’t fill my Twitter “timeline” with antisemitic remarks Kanye.

     Looking purely at music and producing, Kanye West is among the greatest of all time. Now under the simpler name Ye, the man has built up quite the resume, with eleven studio albums to his name. Between 2005 and 2012, Ye captured four “best rap album” awards at the Grammys.

     I’ve absorbed pretty much all of his work, and the diversity in his writing and stylistic choices are the best parts of Ye’s discography. Premier album The College Dropout sounds different from magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which sounds different from Christian album Jesus is King. Even the unreleased assortment of songs and albums have a unique feel to them. Ye is sitting on a gold mine of unreleased works, some of which are infinitely better than those produced by the mumble rappers of today. Among these is “Mama’s Boyfriend,” a ballad from the perspective of a youthful Kanye fearing the mistreatment of his mother by a new boyfriend, which featured a unique sampling of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” (Anthony’s Song). From “Through the Wire” to “Bound 2” to “Runaway,” Ye’s impact on the rap game through his magical storytelling and incredible lyricism is evident. In the use of autotune, and evoking of emotion in an unparalleled manner through his lyrics, Kanye paved the way for artists like Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper, and even Drake. 

     Since the beginning, Kanye West has always had controversy following him. On a live show to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina, West claimed, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” On several occasions, he made it clear that he believed that slavery was a choice (which was not well received by the public.) Most notably, he went on stage and interrupted a young Taylor Swift, which led to immediate backlash and forced him into a personal retreat to Japan to escape overbearing media attention. 

     In 2016, two years prior to the release of the single, Kanye West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that affects millions of people yearly. Two years after his diagnosis, West released his eighth studio album,  the self-titled Ye. Ye was quick to the point in revealing the inner mechanisms of his mind. In the first track, “I thought about killing you,” Ye details his inner conflict with himself and his plans for premeditated murder. 

     The decorated veteran of the hip-hop ecosystem speaks, “The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest, Today, I seriously thought about killing you, I contemplated, premeditated murder, And I think about killing myself And I love myself way more than I love you.” In the song, Ye later supplements this statement with “See, if I was tryin’ to relate it to more people I’d probably say I’m struggling with loving myself Because that seems like a common theme.” Ye finally puts his mental health in perspective, explaining his mental turmoil in a way so beautiful and so fitting in the scheme of the album. The rest of the album centers around inner conflict with addiction and other negative influences.

     This is where the story turns. Despite seemingly having new controversy appear periodically, those events seemed isolated in comparison to what Ye has done in the past 10 months. On January 16, 2022, artist “The Game ” released a single titled Eazy, which featured Ye and was released on Spotify at midnight. In the midst of a self-proclaimed battle for his children, the song featured anti-Pete Davidson lyrics, and the music video portrayed the burial of the “Saturday Night Live” host. In the same month, the rapper dropped off a truckload of roses at the home of Kim Kardashian, now dating Pete Davidson, with the message, “My vision is Krystal Klear.” 

     Over the coming spring and summer months, Kanye engaged in wars over social media which had his name in the headlines yet again. He called out Billie Eillish for a presumed shot at Travis Scott following an incident at one of his concerts which left several dead. More notably, a social media post kickstarted a feud between Ye and Scott Mescudi, better known by his on-stage alias, Kid Cudi. “Just so everyone knows Cudi will not be on Donda because he’s friends with you know who,” he posted on Instagram. Great. Cudi would respond, and the two would be anything but dormant leading to the release of Pusha T’s album, It’s Almost Dry. The album received high praise, becoming Pusha T’s first number-one album as well gaining respect from Tom Brady: “Album of the year!” The two musical legends were featured on the same song, “Rock and Roll,” and all seemed well. However, Mescudi revealed in a tweet that the partnership had seen its last act. I was very disappointed in Ye, as while I am not a huge Kid Cudi fan the two have undeniably produced great hits throughout the years. Yet another bridge burned, great job, Ye.

     And now for the current day. I added the long and ever-growing list of controversies to put into perspective how complicated the cobwebs Ye has created with his own speech. Consider that the tip of the iceberg. October was certainly an eventful month for Mr. (FKA) West. Ye started the month by donning a “White Lives Matter ” shirt, and just days later, forced ex-wife Kim Kardashian to hire extra protection for their daughters at school due to a series of now-gone Instagram posts from Ye, revealing the school’s location. 

     Later in the month, Ye issued a tweet that shaped the public perception of him forever. Kanye has said questionable things in the past, but I’m not sure if anything tops his tweet. It read, “I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE     The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jews also   You guys have toyed with me, and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.” Interesting take here by Ye. He claims to be Jewish while having published two Christain albums in the past five years. Which is it, Ye? For those who are unaware, death con is a grammatical mistake by FKA West, likely intending “DEFCON” instead. The scale runs between one and five and is used to judge threats, so a three is centered evenly. Not even two weeks later, Ye met with trouble again.

     But this time, anti-Semitic remarks were not the problem. In less than two weeks’ time, Ye appeared on “Drink Champs,” a TV program that has faced controversy of its own in the past. While on, Ye declared, “If you look the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that.” What was Ye referring to? The death of George Floyd: which had been previously ruled as a homicide stemming from the knee of Derek Chauvin sending Floyd into cardiopulmonary arrest. 

     Some might say that this sudden shift can be attributed to his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but that simply cannot justify Ye’s actions, if true. Faced with not only public outrage, Ye has begun to suffer repercussions. The man who once said, “I can give a dollar to every person on Earth,” has now lost a lot of them, as Adidas, GAP, and Balenciaga have pulled deals from him. Ye’s “school,” Donda academy, which had a nationally elite basketball team, also shut down. The school, which had three students ranked in the top 50 nationally for basketball, now has to find new schools for their students and student-athletes amidst the backlash of Ye’s remarks. Ye’s own organization for athletes, “Donda Sports,” lost two premier athletes as well. In the hours following the exponentially-growing effects of Ye’s actions, Aaron Donald of the NFL and Jaylen Brown of the NBA announced that they were parting from the organization. 

     To summarize: Ye is in trouble, and the critically acclaimed artist’s fall from grace has become even more intense in the past months. From burying Pete Davidson in a music video in February to making anti-Semitic remarks on Twitter in October 2022 has been brutal for anyone who tries to defend him. At this point, in my opinion, we have to separate the art from the artist. Ye has made countless appearances on the news, but that does not erase his previously released (and unreleased) works. For me, it has been disappointing to watch one of my favorite artists implode, lose an unfathomable amount of money, and then continue imploding. Even worse, is the damage he has caused to groups that he has put under scrutiny due to his comments, including Jews and the family of George Floyd (who have since sued Ye for his defamatory comments). At some point, Ye has to wake up. All in all, the situation is distressing from both a fan and a human standpoint, and I hope that it will come to an end before the situation escalates to an irreversible point.