Kanye West, a man who is a self-proclaimed ‘Shakespeare in the flesh,’ is not unfamiliar with controversy. Recently, the newly-named ‘Ye’ has gotten divorced, released a documentary, made enemies with comedian Pete ‘Skete’ Davidson, and even released a Grammy-nominated album.
The modern rap prodigy, the 4th most paid entertainer in the world as of 2022 according to Forbes, started his career as a producer for Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella records, where he produced several beats for rappers such as Mos Def and Jay-Z himself. His first major track, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” was released in 2001, greatly increasing his popularity.
After winning over executives at Roc-A-Fella, Ye began work on his debut rap album. In October 2003, however, his jaw was wired shut after a major car accident. Through his time of self-reflection, Ye wrote his debut single ‘Through the Wire,’ an instant success accompanied by an MTV Music Video and appearance.
Releasing The College Dropout in 2004, Ye won his first Grammy and became internationally recognized for his rapping capabilities. In the years after his debut, he has released 12 studio albums and 2 more collaborations with Jay-Z and Kid Cudi respectively. All around, Ye has received 22 Grammys across rap and gospel categories and is currently nominated for 4 Grammys. He also released a line of shoes called Yeezys with Adidas, and ran for President of the United States in 2020.
This isn’t to say his career hasn’t had some controversy amongst the success. At the 2010 Grammys, for example, he stormed the stage as Taylor Swift won her award to proclaim that “Beyonce had the greatest video of all time” and smirk it off. In 2018-19, as well, Kanye greatly associated with Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and was criticized for commenting about the legitimacy of slavery. These are just two of the many questionable comments made during Ye’s career. All in all, his ego and god-like confidence have defined him as a celebrity and as a musician.
Shortly after the release of his sophomore album Late Registration in 2007, Ye’s mother , Donda West, had a heart attack and passed away. With MTV, Ye said that “my mother was my everything.” On his 2007 album, a song entitled ‘Hey Mama’ was released, dedicated to Donda and her raising of Ye. His newest albums, both titled ‘Donda’ 1 & 2, were released in 2020 and 2022 with several references to the late Donda West. From the listening parties’ recreation of their Chicago home into the ‘Donda Chant’ of her last heartbeats, Ye is still honoring his mother.
Furthermore, Kanye has taken a more religious approach to his music. On his debut album, ‘Jesus Walks’ included lyrics like ‘God show me the way because the devil tryna break me down’ and ‘the only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now.” When asked about the nature of the lyrics, Ye said that the song was about Jesus walking with both the Sinners and the Saints. In 2004, the song was his third top 20 single in a row, won a Grammy for Best Rap Song, and became certified platinum. Later, on Watch the Throne (2011 w/ Jay-Z), Ye would say that “I made ‘Jesus Walks,’ I’m never going to hell.” In 2013, Ye released Yeezus, which was a reference to several comments he made and continued to make referring to himself as a god.
In the summer of 2019, however, Ye revealed he had become a “born-again Christian.” Kanye discussed having found salvation, and later began Sunday Service to bring religion to social media and reach a greater audience. Also, he released Jesus Is King later in 2019, in which he discusses his new religious views. Ever since this album, Ye has held strong overall themes of religion setting people free in his music.
In February, a Kanye documentary was released to Netflix titled ‘Jeen-Yuhs.’ Following the video-taping of Clarence Simmons Jr. (Coodie), the documentary takes us through Kanye’s life from Chicago producing to The College Dropout, after which the recording is dropped and picked up again around the 2020 presidential election.
As well, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have officially divorced as of March 3rd, 2022. This comes after Kim and Ye both admitted to several mistakes in the marriage in months prior. Kanye, however, has taken to Instagram to bash her new boyfriend Pete Davidson. In a recently released text sequence, Pete reportedly asked Kanye to “calm down” and exchanged other heated messages with him. In February, Ye also released the second rendition of Donda exclusively on his ‘STEM Player,’ a $200 MP3 player. Prior to the release of the album, he released a single titled ‘Eazy’ which talks about beating up Pete Davidson. The music video has Ye burying Pete alive in the form of stop motion claymation. Kanye continues to message both Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson surrounding the situation, and the controversy revolving around the STEM player continues to boil.