Kanye West: The Downfall of a Star

From hits like “Good Life” and “Runaway,” rapper and producer Kanye West has made himself a household name in American pop-culture. He rose to fame in the early 2000s and continued to stay relevant into the 2020s. However, staying relevant has not meant great things for this artist. Lately, there have been repeated controversies over the mental state of this star, with the most recent ones being anti-semetic based tweets, his controversial fashion show with “White Lives Matter” shirts, and the public exposal of his marriage issues. From his previous success to now a supposed mental collapse, this begs the question, how did Kanye West arrive at this point?

Kanye West, otherwise known as “Ye,” is an American producer, rapper, and designer. West was born in Atlanta, Georgia on June 8th, 1977, and raised in the Chicago Southside with his mother Donda West. He graduated from Polaris High School and completed one year of art school at Chicago State University. 

His initial success spawned from the late 1990s, as he displayed his abilities as a producer on Jay-Z’s album Blueprint. The early 2000s brought West into his solo album era with his debut album, The College Dropout (2004). The album name was inspired by Kanye’s withdrawal from university. This debut piece brought about immense commercial success and gave him credibility as not only a producer but a rapper and lyricist. Following this album, West won Grammys for best rap song and best rap album of the year and was appreciated due to his thought provoking lyrics, political awareness, and overall originality. He produced his second album, Late Registration, in 2005. This album further launched his career with hits like “Gold Digger” and “Touch the Sky.”Although West got to experience major success in the music industry, this did not come without issue. One incident was West’s interruption of Taylor Swift during the 2009 MTV awards. He stormed the stage and stated that the award for best female video should have been given to Beyonce. This vilified Kanye in the media’s eyes. However, a year later Kanye released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an album that spoke of the nature of success and being a celebrity. The same brashness and flamboyance that had brought his downfall had trampolined him back into relevance and now an increased divergence of opinion.

The years after the Swift incident were relatively calm. He continued to release 6 albums over the next 7 years and married reality television star Kim Kardashian in 2014. This peaceful life did not last long as West decided to run for president in 2020, which resulted in immediate controversy. 

In addition, West’s behavior in the media became increasingly erratic, seen recently with his “White Lives Matter” shirts sold by his company Yeezy in October 2022. Earlier, reports were released that Kim Kardashian had filed for divorce in early 2021. It was suspected that West’s mental state and his choices as a parent were to blame. Back in 2020 in an interview with CNN, Kardashian stated, “He is a brilliant but complicated person who is on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder.” 

Kanye dawning strange mask at one of his concerts Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

The most recent controversy, Kanye West tweeted against the Jewish religion stating, “…when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE…” This tweet catapulted a discussion on the state of West’s mental health, and the artist’s unregulated social media activity.