It’s 2007, Kanye West just released “Graduation,” which featured one of his most well-known songs, “Stronger.”
He was fresh off a tour with U2 after the release of his critically acclaimed album “The College Dropout,” sporting his shutter shades and ready to start a new chapter with the production of “Late Registration.”
This is where his endless string of controversies began when he told the crowd at a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert that U.S. president at the time George W. Bush didn’t care about Black people, and then again in 2006 when he posed in a crown of thorns on the cover of “Rolling Stone.”
The 2007 release of his album “Graduation” and its competition with 50 Cent’s “Curtis” ultimately changed hip-hop forever with its incorporation of a more electric feel rather than traditional rap’s mobster-gang ideology.
Shortly thereafter, West suffered the loss of his mother, Donda West, and then the end of his relationship with fiancée Alexis Phifer. West felt he couldn’t accurately express his emotions in music anymore and took to using auto-tune, which took fans aback during the debut of “Love Lockdown” from his next project, “808s & Heartbreak,” during the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
Though not as popular as his previous works, “808s & Heartbreak” encouraged other hip-hop artists to take risks and pursue their creative side.
Not long after the release, West’s most famous controversy of all time happened at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when he took the stage and interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me.”
West proclaimed, “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!” The video he was referring to was for Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
This proclamation caused widespread criticism from nearly every other popular artist and even former President Barack Obama.
Though it was a bold and stupid move on his part, I can’t help but agree with West that Beyoncé should have won. Sorry, Taylor.
After pursuing fashion and releasing hit after hit, fast forward several years, and one thing has remained the same — Kanye can’t keep himself away from controversy.
With the release of “The Life of Pablo” in February 2016 came the release of his music video for one of the record’s tracks, “Famous,” which featured himself in bed with wax figures of several familiar faces, such as his wife Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, former President George W. Bush, the then presidential candidate Donald Trump and Bill Cosby.
Swift was furious, and the argument between her, West and Kardashian became very public. Kardashian even went as far as to post the phone call on Twitter in which Swift said she was okay with the song, but then later denied that statement.
Following his wife being robbed in Paris in October, West cancelled several of his shows for “The Life of Pablo” tour and then cancelled the remaining 21 shows in November after a week of no-shows, shows that were cut short and political rants.
Later, West was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for temporary psychosis due to sleep deprivation and dehydration.
After an 11-month hiatus, West was at it again. His most recent controversy, arguably his most upsetting, came from when West returned to Twitter in April 2018 with a string of tweets and a political shock that seemingly came out of nowhere.
West went on a tangent about how, as a creative person, “your ideas are your strongest form of currency,” and how we should be making decisions based off of love and not fear. This turned into him offering his advice on how to be a more wholesome person and freeing yourself.
Then things got weird. He stopped his rant to let his followers know that the tweets were him writing his book in real time and it was his “innate need to be expressive.” He then secretly announced a possible run for president with a tweet simply stating: “2024.”
The politics didn’t stop there.
His tweets mentioned Trump, Hilary Clinton and Obama with the only criticism being that Obama was in office for eight years and nothing changed in Chicago. Other than that, he stated that the only person he agrees on absolutely everything with is himself.
His support for President Trump came with backlash from his fans and from celebrities. In an effort to explain himself, West released “Ye vs. the People” in April. The track features T.I. as the voice of the people that question everything West says.
In regard to his possible presidential run, West thanks Trump for that possibility with the lyrics: “I know Obama was heaven-sent / But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be president.”
He tried to explain his reasons for supporting “Make America Great Again” with: “Make America Great Again had a negative perception / I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction / Added empathy, care and love and affection / And y’all simply questionin’ my methods.”
Only after an official meeting with President Trump at the White House did people throw up their hands, calling for West’s head. People were disgusted with his choice to give President Trump a chance.
Maybe we should give Ye a chance. Though now the tables have turned, and it’s looking like that run for the Oval Office might not happen.
Most recently, West announced that he is done with politics and will be focusing solely on being creative after being “used to spread messages (he) doesn’t believe in.” Those messages are that of the “Blexit” movement.
My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!
— ye (@kanyewest) October 30, 2018
According to their website, Blexit is a nonprofit organization in which they “organize economic resistance towards financial renaissance in response to systems of oppression” intended to build an” economic agency that benefits Black Americans.” The group said they are not affiliated with conservative ideology, specifically “Make America Great Again.”
Before his tweet about stepping back from politics, West made sure to explain what he does stand for. “I support creating jobs and opportunities for people who need them the most, I support prison reform, I support common-sense gun laws that will make our world safer. I believe in love and compassion for people seeking asylum … ”
Ye seems to be drawing beliefs from both ends of the political spectrum, and he only wants to love everyone. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Though my only qualm is that all this controversy seems to happen around the time he is about to release an album. Explain that, Ye.