The downfall of Kanye’s career

Jet Miller '24, Staff Writer

When I first started to get into Kanye, like really get into Kanye, I saw his art as a source of hope, a promise that consistent, true, unadulterated originality and success can in fact coincide, despite the seemingly oppressive bleakness of real life. For those of you who haven’t taken the time to listen to Kanye’s music, it generally centers around themes of triumph-against-the-odds, and has a uniquely impactful quality of defiance and empowerment unmatched by any of his contemporaries. I think that’s why I, as well as millions of others, fell for Kanye in the first place: his innate ability to make the impossible possible.

His music served as a backdrop to some of the most formative moments of my recent life, as I’m sure is the case for many others. Granted, I haven’t always been a Kanye fan, but for the time that I have been, I’ve used his music as a means of preserving my dreams, no matter how fallible they may seem to others. I saw, and still can’t help but somewhat see Kanye as a representation of my yet-to-be-realized aspirations, which makes it so difficult to confront the contradiction between what Kanye has recently been saying and doing and my basic moral principles. I find myself trying to explain actions I would typically consider inexcusable if it were any other person, and still, writing this, understanding this, I can’t help but feel a sense of loyalty to Kanye.

For a while, I wrote off Kanye’s various controversies as mere byproducts of his unapologetic commitment to originality. However, as time has gone on, I can’t help but notice the real world dangers of his actions. As his rhetoric has shifted to become more politically extreme, even branching into hatefulness, I’ve come to a point where I can no longer justify the things Kanye does. From his sporting a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt alongside Candace Owens, to recent antisemetic sentiments he’s expressed on Twitter, to claims that George Floyd’s death was not in fact the result of being strangled by police officer Derek Chauvin, Kanye’s actions pose the very serious danger of enabling hatred and violence and perpetuating cruel stereotypes.

Even looking back further, Kanye has been no stranger to controversy. I suppose when Kanye would do things like interrupt Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance, or strike up a Twitter beef, I would simply shrug it off as meaningless. Even when I heard of Kanye implying that slavery was a choice, although I knew it was wrong and harmful, I tried to write it off as a byproduct of mental illness, and not actually what Kanye believes. But now, as Kanye has more frequently expressed such sentiments, regardless of whether or not it’s a result of mental illness, or whether or not Kanye really believes any of the things he is saying, it’s become clear to me that his words and actions have a real world impact, and it is irresponsible to continue to ignore them. While for many, Kanye’s music has proved to be impactful and relatable, Kanye himself may not be the person we want him to be. We need to take this moment as a society to acknowledge what Kanye’s work has done for us, while also confronting the dangers of enabling such behavior. In doing so, we can take away power from what Kanye is saying, and hopefully, focus our energy into more positive, progressive pursuits.