Kanye West Makes ‘TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Cover & There's A Good Reason He Was Chosen For The Honor
Love him or hate him, but there are few people out there in the world who don't have some feelings about Kanye West. Naturally, it should come as no surprise that Kanye leads TIME Magazine's Most Influential People list in 2015, occupying not only the no. 1 position on the list of Titans but also getting an entire cover to himself. He's a rapper, he's an entrepreneur, he's a notorious interrupter of award shows, and now his influence has landed him a place on the cover of TIME Magazine in 2015. Can we get a round of applause, no matter how reluctant? However, Kanye making the Time 100 isn't just noteworthy for the fact that it's Kanye. Line up all of the five magazine covers that go along with the Time 100, and you'll notice that Kanye is the only celebrity of color who got his own cover.
The only other celebrity who made a cover was Bradley Cooper. The three other covers are devoted to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Misty Copeland, and Jorge Ramos, all of whom are famous for things completely unrelated to movies or music or the Hollywood machine. Ramos and Copeland join Kanye as the POC representation on these covers, but, of course, the question most people might be asking is whether or not Kanye actually deserves to be the representation of influential celebrities of 2015 — and especially the sole celebrity of color.
It's not as though the Time 100 has a shortage of them. Kanye topped the list of Titans, which included other celebrities of color such as Kim Kardashian and Lee Daniels. Cooper, on the other hand, topped the list of Artists, which boasts such celebrities of color as Audra McDonald and Kevin Hart. With names like that who could have topped the list instead, you next have to examine the fact that there are a great many people who dislike Kanye. There are even more people who would outright claim to hate Kanye. Certainly, he is a person that invites such passionate hatred with his inability to keep his mouth shut or to stop storming stages. (Okay, so he's only done it twice. But still.)
However, it's precisely because he incites such strong feelings in the public that assured him this spot. His profile, written by Elon Musk, begins with the words, "Kanye West would be the first person to tell you he belongs on this list." And it's true. When Kanye opens his mouth, people listen, whether because his words have power to them or because they're waiting for him to say something incendiary for them to add to their list of reasons to hate him. But they listen, and, much like his wife Kardashian, he can make headlines just for leaving the house or taking a picture, by going somewhere or not going somewhere.
Of course, it's because Kanye is such a controversial figure that the question of whether or not he deserves the cover might arise. As I said, Kanye is the only celebrity of color that made the cover. Even if the other celebrities of color on the Time 100 weren't up for consideration, wouldn't the cover be better if it featured the likes of John Legend or Pharrell (and Pharrell's hat) or David Oyelowo? Wouldn't it incite less of a debate? Make less people roll their eyes and wonder how much further their ego will expand with the addition of this TIME cover to their list of accolades? Well, probably. But do any of those artists combined have the sway of Kanye West? They might be artists and activists, they might be budding Renaissance Men with their hand in many pots, but none of them yet have Kanye's influence.
If nothing else, Kanye is very, very good at what he does — whatever it is he's doing, which is usually making people mad — and his fatal flaw is that he's arrogant enough to know it. The fact that he made the list is going to make a lot of people question the legitimacy of the Time 100. The fact that he and Kim Kardashian both made the list is going to result in a lot of jokes, especially when his TIME Magazine interview is taken into account. ("Every time I crash the Internet, it’s like this little drop of truth," Kanye says in the interview. "Every time I say something that’s extremely truthful out loud, it literally breaks the Internet. So what are we getting all of the rest of the time?" Good question.)
So, yeah, a lot of people might not like Kanye West. Many people might not consider him a role model, even people who love him the most. I know I don't. However, he's definitely earned his spot as the only celebrity of color to make the Time 100 covers, and earned the right to stand next to the likes of Jorge Ramos and Misty Copeland as a visual representation the broad and... varied kind of influence that some of the most famous people of color have had worldwide in the last year. After all, love him or hate him, you're still talking about him, aren't you?
Image: TIME; Getty Images