In September 2009, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the MTV Video Music Award for ‘Best Female Video’. This viral clip became one of the most popular internet memes of all time, with the line “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time”. This led to him being castigated by the press, his fans, and even being called a ‘jackass’ by the then-president Barack Obama.
West would apologise within a week for his actions in a highly publicised interview with Jay Leno on primetime TV. However, a few years later, in an interview with Jon Caramanica from The New York Times, Kanye said that he did not have “one regret” about the incident. Kanye then exacerbated the situation further; on ‘Famous’, the lead single from his popular album The Life of Pablo, he said that he feels like him and Taylor Swift “might still have sex”, as he claimed that he made her famous – a lyric rightly criticised by many for being misogynistic.
Earlier this year, Kanye caused an incredible amount of controversy during an appearance on TMZ, when he stated that 400 years of slavery in the USA “sounds like a choice”. Though he later apologised, the public won’t quickly forget those awfully misguided words. To highlight all the Kanye West controversy would drain my word limit, but I think it’s safe to say that we understand the general gist of his exploits.
As alluded to earlier, West’s music does not stray far from the general theme. Yeezus, Kanye’s sixth studio album, was an overtly melodramatic project. Whether one believes the album to be fantastic, terrible, or somewhere in-between, it is clear that the record is intentionally abrasive, and was something of an exorbitant stunt. The fact the album features a song called ‘I Am a God’ sums up the general feel of the project quite concisely.
The question is: have Kanye’s antics hindered his career? In terms of the amount of public exposure he receives and the number of people that listen to his songs, the answer is almost certainly no.
I’m writing about him. You bothered to read this article. Drake cared enough to speak at length about him in a recent interview on LeBron James’ show, The Shop. We still speak about the Taylor Swift incident, which happened when I was just starting my final year of primary school. Whether you love him or hate him, his name will, at some point, be on your lips. His song ‘I Love It’ with Lil Pump and Adele Givens has only been out for a month, and has already amassed 255 million views on its music video on YouTube. It seems his levels of fame have only increased.
However, his status as a hip-hop legend will be tainted by the image that people have of his character. Ye will always be remembered as the person who released now-classic albums like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the person who collaborated with virtually every living big name in the industry from Jay-Z to Jamie Foxx.
Unfortunately, he will also be remembered as a hip-hop supervillain – the man with an enormous amount of talent but an attitude that leaves a substantial amount more to be desired.
As a fan I eagerly look to the future to see what he will do moving forward, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that his memory will be forever flawed.