Wake Up Mr. West – The State Hornet
Formerly Kanye West, Ye’s actions cannot be ignored anymore
From 2004 to 2007, three landmark albums were released by the same artist as both a critique and embracing of college culture, while serving many listeners as the soundtrack to their academic life. The musician looked to buck the system and their art stood as a protest to the modern scholastic system and how academic boundaries can limit creativity.
As an eager middle schooler, these albums gave me some insight into higher education. This was the music of the youth; it was an exemplary showcase of what excellence was in music. I was captivated by the artist and their nature; I wanted to be someone to buck the system too.
Those albums were Ye’s college trilogy. The artist formerly known as Kanye West was a man I viewed as an outspoken genius who has since become the very thing he protested against — an archetype I became a journalist to call out.
Ye has become a conduit for hate speech and utilizes controversies for financial gain.
As a long-time fan, it is important to make those who follow him with a cultish mentality aware of the very real consequences his influence has.
In light of recent events on campus involving anti-semetic hate speech, it’s crucial to consider the influence Ye has and the potential his words have on the impressionable minds of his followers.
The saddest part of this current controversy is that it is all a part of a promotional cycle Ye uses to drum up attention for the music he is releasing.
“That’s kinda what his character is,” third-year graphics design major Zachary Medina said. “It’s controversy.”
Controversy has been a tool Ye uses to sell his music. He’s followed a similar routine since the 2008 VMA incident with Taylor Swift.
While the incident was originally intended to show a racial bias in award ceremonies — something I’ll admit he was right about — he used the controversy as a tool to create hype for his 2010 album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
Following the massive success of that album, Ye elected to go for a more experimental approach for his next album, “Yeezus.” This time, he incited controversy with the “Yeezus Tour” merchandise. Certain articles of clothing had various forms of the Confederate flags depicted on them.
“React how you want,” Ye said in an interview with a Los Angeles radio station, 97.1 AMP. “The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way. So I wrote the song, ‘New Slaves.’ I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now.”
Ye received backlash for using the flag, even as an artistic statement. These types of antics continued, arguably peaking in 2018, when he donned a “Make America Great Again” hat and met with then-Pres. Trump.
This was a part of a run in 2018 where he produced five different albums: one was a solo project, and another was a collaborative album with Kid Cudi. Ye’s “MAGA era” was interesting because Ye claims he hadn’t voted until 2020 (for himself) and Complex reports he actually donated thousands to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Those five albums were released in a five week span following his MAGA hat escapade; something he used to bring attention to himself and thus his music.
This theory is supported on the basis that Ye routinely leaves his socials if his album cycle is done. There has been direct coverage that highlights when he joins and leaves social media and each time he leaves is only after his album is released. After the MAGA cycle, Ye deleted his social accounts and didn’t return to either Twitter or Instagram until earlier this year.
In recent years, it feels like the frequency of his antics has increased.
“Now it’s like weekly,” Cyrille Kaiklian, a fourth year film major at Sac State said, “damn near daily; where you’re just like; ‘how am I a fan of you?’”
While he recently apologized for anti-semetic comments he made on Oct. 19, this also appears to be a part of his cycle. In order to bring people back to ‘not hating him,’ he apologized for his behavior and went silent so that his actions can be forgotten in the public eye.
Ye apologized just last month for the stress he caused his ex-wife and, in 2018 apologized for how his comments on slavery made people feel. At the time, he promised audiences “a new Ye.”
Kenny Cai, a first year graphics design major at Sac State said, “With Kanye man, you gotta separate the art from the artist.”
While I’d like this to be true, we as fans have to collectively understand the influence and power that we give to Ye. There should be no blind dedication to a man who has consistently let us, the community of fans, down.
His actions don’t represent his audience, but there’s a large section of his fanbase that would defend him no matter what he did. Those are the people that need to be more analytical and do better.
Ye only has as much power as his audience gives him. It’s important that we all wake up instead of rewarding potentially dangerous behavior.