I've been a big fan of Kanye West for a long time. He has continuously proven to be a creative force in the music industry, and now, the fashion industry. Unfortunately for fans like me, his beacon of creative energy often gets misdirected. Recently, West has been criticized for Twitter rants, Twitter feuds, and now misogynistic lyrics, including one that discredits Taylor Swift's career. Recently, I was laughing along with the rest of the country as West seemed to put his Yeezy Boost 350 in his mouth in a series of tweets to Wiz Khalifa. "He's just being Kanye," I'd say, joining in on the fun by retweeting or making GIFs of the action. But, how far do the comments have to go before fans realize that we can't keep giving Kanye West a free pass simply because he's Kanye West. Excusing him with a laugh and "he's just being Kanye" not only validates that particular type of behavior, but also discredits the people that end up being the victims of his comments.
Let's go back to the (recent) beginning. The Twitter feud between West and Wiz Khalifa seemed to stem from West misinterpreting a tweet Khalifa sent out referencing "kk." West seemed to believe that "kk" was a direct reference to his wife, Kim Kardashian, when in fact it was referring to Khalifa's personal strain of weed "Khalifa Kush." Without knowing this, Twitter became lit. West went on a rant about Khalifa (including the "cool pants" mention from above) and eventually brought up Amber Rose, who previously dated West, and is divorced from Khalifa, with whom she has a son. As an insult to Rose, West made a reference to his famous "18 years" line in "Gold Digger," saying that Khalifa is "trapped" by "a stripper" for the duration of their son's childhood. At first glance, I was just excited that he brought up my go-to karaoke song, without realizing the damaging message of the tweet.
However, as time passed, I could no longer ignore its offensive meaning. In order to defend his own wife, West felt the need to demean someone else's ex-wife and the mother of their child. Not only were his comments incredibly degrading towards Rose, but it's detrimental to say that about a child, who Khalifa has made it clear he is very proud to be the father of. It wasn't cool, but "he was just being Kanye," right?
Wrong. This line of thinking all traces back to the infamous 2009 MTV Video Music Awards moment when West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video. After that, the world came to expect a certain type of behavior from West: an unapologetic, often offensive viewpoint that we would write off as a byproduct of his creative genius. I know I did. And to be honest, I still think West is a creative genius, but I've realized that doesn't mean we should let his problematic behavior slide.
In another recent — and somehow not deleted this time — Twitter rant, West declared Bill Cosby "innocent." Unlike his past rants, this wasn't "just being Kanye," this was being completely insensitive. In just three words (and 10 exclamation points), West discredited the over 50 women who claim that Cosby drugged and raped them (Cosby has repeatedly claimed that these allegations are false).
When he does things like this, things that are offensive, insensitive, and misogynistic, I think back to West's Video Vanguard Award speech at the 2015 VMAs. It was "Kanye" at his prime. He went from talking about future generations to talking about artistry in under five minutes. In the same speech, he somehow mentioned fresh juices and his presidential bid for the 2020 election. This is Kanye. He also said this:
And I think, if I had to do it all again. What would I have done? Would I have worn a leather shirt? Would I have drank a half a bottle of Hennessy and gave the rest of it to the audience? I know y'all drank that bottle too. If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else's?
It seemed that he realized his mistake, and why what he did to Swift on the same stage six years earlier was not OK. Yet just a few months later, West has attempted to discredit Swift. Again. On Thursday, West's new album The Life of Pablo dropped with the song "Famous" including the following lyrics: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that b*tch famous." Swift's camp responded with:
Kanye did not call for approval. But to ask Taylor to release his single Famous on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, "I made that b*tch famous."
Doesn't line up with Swift's representative's comment.
I hardly believe that.
Usually, I'd roll my eyes, send the tweet to my coworker, and say "This is so Kanye." But this, piled on to his recent antics, has brought me to the point where I, as a fan, can't give West a free pass anymore. Sure, maybe he's "just being Kanye," but if that's the case, then I can't say that I like Kanye. I'm not a big Swift fan, but I can still acknowledge that people were talking about her long before West "let her finish" — especially since that happened as the singer was being honored with an award. Most importantly, Swift's career is thanks to one person and that's herself.
In my eyes, West is still an artist. But now he seems to be a misogynistic, insensitive artist who is trying to invalidate careers that he has no business commenting on. He needs to take responsibility for what he says and realize that his words are so heavily thought upon. By aspiring rappers, by future fashion designers, by 24-year-old writers who can spit out "Monster" like it's nobody's business, and in the future, by his own family. I won't be making excuses for West anymore, and I hope eventually, he stops behaving in a way that asks his fans to make them.