Kanye West: From Music Great to Media Laughingstock


Kanye Omari West, now known officially as just “Ye”, is in many opinions an all-time music great. Yet, to many of his fans’ dismay, Ye has been incapable of keeping himself from news headlines this year, causing worry to supporters and aversion amongst popular opinion and media. The now 45-year-old artist has come a long way since producing his first tracks in 1996, and with a possible derailment of his music career, we can observe his progression as an artist and how we have arrived at this juncture.  

Kanye first began his music career producing for local artists, prior to signing his first deal with Jay-Z’s own Roc-A-Fella Records. Kanye’s work on Jay-Z’s hit album The Blueprint caught the attention of millions, and it wasn’t before long that Kanye would start creating his own music. In 2003, The College Dropout was released, an emphatic start to a brilliant career. Hits like “Slow Jamz,” “Through The Wire,” and—most famously—“All Falls Down,” shaped this album into a huge commercial success, lending Kanye the big stage and opportunity to let his talent shine. Kanye was set out to complete his first album trilogy, and next was Late Registration. These two albums formed Kanye’s “first” identity, using elements of chipmunk soul along with other chopped up samples. 

Fast forward to 2007, and the release of Graduation marked a new identity for Kanye. Now a B-List celebrity, he received criticism for his new electronic style of production. Kanye’s most famous song, even today, is “Stronger,” an embrace of these new sounds. This, along with the autotune-filled, 808’s and Heartbreak, even made Stephen Colbert say, “Why buy Kanye’s album; you can basically hear it for free…just put a tin can up to your ear and lean against a Pac-Man machine.” Along with 808’s “Heartless,” Kanye was at the pinnacle of the music scene. This, however, the limelight led to something nearly catastrophic to his career. 

Kanye, with the recent passing of his mother, watched Taylor Swift win the best video at the 2009 VMAs. Intoxicated and angry, believing Beyonce was the clear, deserving winner, Kanye took the stage, snatched the mic, and exclaimed his grievances with who had won.

This low-water mark proved an only temporary career dip, before Kanye’s insane comeback with 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the artist’s most commercially and artistically successful work, and he began to ascend even further into his musical greatness, despite adversity. 2013’s experimental album Yeezus turned out to be a massive success, and 2016’s The Life of Pablo, in which he changed his style again completely, seemed to shape the musical landscape of 2016. 

Kanye has suffered many self-inflicted moments in the negative media spotlight: for example, when he said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” following Hurricane Katrina and Bush’s attempts to administer help. Kanye was diagnosed with bipolar syndrome in 2016, and he brought that to public attention with his next album, 2018’s Ye, with the album cover showing, “I hate being Bi-Polar, it’s awesome.” Kanye has since created two other albums, and also went through—and is currently dealing with—his divorce from his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian. 

It is also apparent Kanye has not been able to stay out of the news, and tweets such as, “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 Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone who opposes your agenda,” has made Kanye a center for hatred and controversy. This prompted termination of his brand deals such as Adidas, Gap, and Balenciaga, which led to his reportedly losing over $1 billion, along with his relatively good reputation

You may think he would’ve taken a step back and attempted to stay away from controversy, but instead Kanye, in an interview with Alex Jones, said, “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.” Later in the interview, Ye prompted its “time to promote love” by saying, “I do love Hitler. I do love the Zionists.” 

Kanye’s mental state is clearly extremely unstable, and it’s unfortunate that he is committing such acts that can ruin his career instead of getting help. At least, separating the art from the artist, we can say has earned the title of one of the most influential rappers of all time, and all time music great, and celebrate his career to some extent.