The Ballad of Ye


Kanye West is the greatest artist of all time. Well, according to him anyway. Born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, Kanye Omari West is known for his eccentric and egotistical persona, someone who has made his mark in everything from rap to high fashion. Throughout his career West has always been considered a controversial figure, however, his recent actions regarding advocacy for the Trump administration and cultural viewpoints have instilled a new level of astonishment among his supporters and spectators. This behavior has harmed both his reputation and relationships with fans, family and friends, while also threatening to alter his legacy forever.

Emerging in the early 2000s, West produced and released a number of albums and chart-topping singles. His career first took off after the release of “The College Dropout,” in 2004, which sold a total of 441,000 copies, and secured the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s top 200 album list. West had found his way into the limelight and he didn’t plan on stepping out anytime soon. A year later at the 2005 Grammys, West walked away with two awards, one for Best Rap Album and another for “Jesus Walks” as Best Rap Song. West continued to build his fame by creating more entertaining and captivating music that was beloved by many of his listeners.

West’s next album was called “Late Registration” and includes one of his most well-known songs to this day: “Gold Digger,” featuring Jamie Foxx. This album immediately became a hit among fans across the nation, as well as beating his previous album by reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s best album list. Following this album release, West proved that he was not just a gifted musical artist, but a capable influencer in the fashion industry. In September of 2005, West announced his line of Pastelle Clothing which led to the eventual collaboration with multi-billion dollar company, Adidas, and the founding of the successful Yeezy brand collection. One of his most popular products was the Yeezy 750 Boost “Light Brown”, which was a $544.00 shoe that sold out within minutes. His apparel collections have been featured in multiple shows for New York Fashion Week, awarding him the image of a well-respected figure in the design industry.

In 2006, West’s undeniable talent and passion for music were showcased in the cover story of Rolling Stones magazine. This granted West the publicity needed to propel his career, producing and release more albums that would continue to reach No. 1. A year later, in 2007, West did just that. West’s next popular album, “Graduation” was released on September 11th and sold 950,000 units in the first week.

By 2008, West had fully established a high status as a performer and also had gained prominent fame around the world. In November, he released his fourth album, “808s & Heartbreak.” The album featured lyrics that provide deep insight into West’s personal life, including details on his previous relationships, as well as the recent loss of his mother. Soon after “808s & Heartbreak,” in 2010, West released arguably his best-known album to date: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” This contained several hit songs including “Runaway,” “All Of The Lights,” “Devil in a New Dress” and many other fan favorites. This album earned West yet another Grammy for Best Rap Album. What many fans and listeners did not anticipate, was that this was nearing the end of an era in West’s music career.

Fast forward to 2018, the name “Kanye West” has been shortened to “Ye” and his classic 2000’s old-school rap sound is now fundamentally shifted into one that is primarily unorthodox and brutally honest. In his recent song release “Lift Yourself,” the last 30 seconds consist of West reciting the lyrics “scoop-diddy-whoop, whoop-di-scoop-di-poop”. To many, this seemed far more immature and deranged than anything West had produced before, and even made some of his die-hard fans question his new sound.

This new change in music style was simultaneous with a shift in West’s behavior.  Leading up to the release of one of his most recent albums, “YE,” West hosted a listening party in one of his favorite spots: Jackson, Wyoming. While in Wyoming, West was able to take a mental break from his chaotic and stressful life in California in order to further help himself regain the strength he once had.  Two months after the release of this album, West revealed that he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Speaking candidly about his disease, West claims that he views it as his “Superpower.” Going along with his perspective on his health, he decided to place the words “I hate being bipolar, it’s awesome,” on the front cover of “YE.” However controversial West seemed in the past, no one could have predicted his recent behavior regarding his participation in political and social movements in the past few months. The beginning of this period of political controversy traces back to earlier this April when West returned to the Twitter social media platform after previously deleting his account earlier that year. He started off by declaring that his tweets are now his unconventional way of writing an autobiography, tweeting that it would not be a financial opportunity, but instead an “innate need to be expressive.” Later that month, West heavily praised his own successes by declaring that he is this generation’s Henry Ford, Langston Hughes, Steve Jobs, and Walt Disney. Next, a series of tweets regarding his personal views on freedom of thought and America’s history of slavery were published onto his account. He tweeted “there was a time when slavery was a trend and apparently that time is still upon us. But now it’s a mentality.” On the 25th, he abruptly launched into a series of tweets which expressed his “love” for President Trump. He states that although he doesn’t agree with everything the president may do, he still sees him as a “brother” and believes that they each represent a “dragon energy.”

These words came to life in early May when he made an appearance on an episode of TMZ LIVE and became extraordinarily candid on topics ranging from his thoughts on President Trump to the freedom of thought. The quote from this interview that made multiple headlines was West’s statement that slavery was a choice for millions of past African Americans. Although possibly taken out of context, the thought that such a prominent figure in American black culture could be blaming the atrocity of slavery on the decisions of those primarily affected was outraging for many of his previous supporters.

This recent uprise in political commentary led to a correspondence between West and President Trump. On October 12th, a televised meeting between them was held in the oval office, where West made the statement that wearing Trump’s merchandise ‘Make America Great Again’ hat made him “feel like Superman.”

It is unclear exactly who Kanye West is today or who he will be tomorrow. Is he an innovator who isn’t afraid to speak his mind? Or simply a victim of a controlling disorder? A success story of the American dream? Or the tragic downfall of an icon? His political voice has become a whirlwind of unpredictability and is broadcasted to the entire world, making each controversy more heightened and consequential than the last. It should be noted, however, that eccentric and bizarre behavior conducted by public figures is regularly criticized, but their future legacies are often perceived as ones of greatness, applauding them for pushing the social boundaries of their time. Or as West would put it, “Why are people so scared of creative ideas and so scared of the truth? All I want to do is do good.”