Cover of the album Graduation by Kanye West
Cover of the album Graduation by Kanye West

The Fall of Kanye West

The career of Kanye West has brought him down a path that no one could have predicted. Once a revered artist now lives as one of the most controversial figures of the 21st century. Kanye West has always been a controversial figure. In 2005, during a live charity broadcast for victims of Hurricane Katrina, he went off script to proclaim that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”. He also famously interrupted Taylor Swift’s speech at the 2009 VMAs to say that Beyoncé’s music video was better and that she deserved the award. He has elicited controversy on many occasions, but for the most part, the general public was willing to overlook his stunts. Many of the things he did were criticized at the time, but none of them resulted in any permanent large backlash. 

Maybe it was the unseriousness of his statements or his musical achievements, but his image in the public eye remained mostly positive. He became one of the most celebrated hip-hop artists of his generation and one of the biggest musical names on the planet, never letting any of the controversies slow him down. 

The lack of media backlash from West’s past outbursts may have led him to believe he was almost immune to the media, reaching a level of notoriety and fame that no bad press could destroy. This preconception was tested in 2016, when he announced his support for presidential candidate Donald Trump during his Saint Pablo tour. By ranting about his support for such a controversial candidate, many were quick to voice their opinion, but this did not bother West.

“He always says something that angers the media and gets people mad,” senior Sawyer McLaughlin said. “And you know, back when he was like, trying to support Trump, and people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re a Trump supporter, how could you?’ He was like, ‘Why are people getting so mad? I just said I liked this person.’”

From this controversy, it was clear that Kanye may not see himself as immune to negative press, rather he just did not care what the media said about him. He believes that the media will always find something to be mad about. This can be seen in the 2012 song “I Don’t Like.1”, with West saying, “The media crucify me like they did Christ.”

This sentiment is mirrored in the attitudes of a lot of his fans. Although some have distanced themselves from his music, others say they have nothing to be ashamed of. Senior Jaylen Arzner, says his opinion of Kanye hasn’t changed over the years “mainly because I don’t take his opinion seriously. I just take him from a musical standpoint. If he makes good music, then I’ll listen to it.” 

This seems to be a relatively common opinion among his fans. McLaughlin agreed, saying “ I separate the artist from the person. I recognize that he is, you know, very outspoken in a kind of negative and hateful way and has been for a long time. But, you know, he makes music and I can make that separation in my head when people start to talk about how great he is.”

In May of 2020, West announced that he was working on his tenth studio album titled “Donda”, named after his late mother. This album, slated to be released during the summer of 2020, did not see release until Aug. 29, 2021, over a year late. It is likely that a combination of things caused him to delay the album, including announced candidacy for the 2024 presidential election and wife Kim Kardashian filing for divorce in early 2021.

While fans listened to the new album and eventually its deluxe edition, many still became excited for whatever West would produce next. This is before what was arguably the biggest turning point in West’s career.

On Dec. 1, 2022, West made an appearance on Infowars, a far-right talk show hosted by Alex Jones. Donning a mask and jacket, West shocked the world after making anti-semitic comments live, even saying, “The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered anything of value to the world. I see good things about Hitler, also.” West then went further with his remarks, writing posts on Twitter which ultimately got him banned from the website.

Despite the controversies West had caused in the past few years, fans eagerly awaited the release of his newest album “Vultures”. This album was especially exciting as it was a collaborative effort between him and Ty Dolla $ign, collectively using the name ¥$. As it typically goes for West, this album’s release was not smooth, with a mid-December release date turning into a Feb. 10 release.

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