Old Kanye

Kanye West during Outsidelands festival in San Francisco in 2014.

I miss the old Kanye, straight from the go Kanye / Chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye / I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye / The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye / I miss the sweet Kanye, chop up the beats Kanye / I gotta to say at that time I’d like to meet Kanye…” –“I love Kanye” by Kanye West

To be honest, that’s ^^^ how I really feel about Kanye West. I used to be the biggest Kanye fan. When I tell you I was obsessed, it is not an understatement. To put it into perspective for you, before J.Cole, Kanye West was hands down my favorite living rapper. In 6th or 7th grade I got my first iPod, the iPod nano 3rd generation in black. Oh that little chubby square device, how I loved you. For once, I didn’t have to sit infront of the computer for hours on YouTube to listen to music. I quickly downloaded every single Kanye West song that I could. Some of these songs still had Kanye down as “Kayne West.” I had every single song he ever made on that iPod, I knew every song’s lyrics by heart, and “Bittersweet” was my MySpace song for the longest.

I admired Kanye because he was obnoxious and talked about issues that some people wouldn’t dare to. He jeopardized his reputation and name for the sake of saying what’s on his mind. He didn’t care that some of the topics were taboo for famous people to bring up. And I liked that. Kanye had the fame and the money, but still knew where he came from. However, he went from “George Bush does not care about black people,” to suggesting that slavery was a “choice,” saying Harriet Tubman didn’t actually free any slaves, and publically supporting Trump… Oh, Kanye, how did you get to this point?

Many believe that the death of his mother, Donda West, in 2007 is what caused Kanye to snap. I agree. In many of his songs, Kanye talks about how he was raised by his single mother. He was a total mama’s boy in its whole definition. Kanye understood all the sacrifices that his mother endured for him, and he appreciated that she always had his back through whatever stage, even if that meant dropping out of college to pursue music. He wanted to pay her all back for it – all the sacrifices, jobs, pain. When Kanye finally started to make a name for himself and make money, his mom benefited as well. The song “Hey Mama” released in Kanye’s 2005 album Late Registration, gave his fans a taste of how much his mother meant to him.

Under the circumstances of how Donda West died, I know Kanye must feel a lot of guilt and anger. Donda West underwent cosmetic surgery, and had complications which resulted in her death. She got liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a breast reduction, and returned home the same day of surgery, even though she was advised to recover in the hospital. Because of these surgeries, Donda West had complications the following day, she ended up collapsing and was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. In the article I linked above, they claim that Kanye blames himself for his mother’s death saying in a Q Magazine interview, “If I had never moved to L.A. she’d be alive.” Meaning, if he never made it big, his mom would still be living.

Before his mother’s death, Kanye was a man who wanted the fame, money, and respect. And Kanye West wasn’t ashamed to admit it. The irony is that when he finally “made it” and had all those things, he was trying to extend the high life to his mother, only to have it backfire in his face. His mother’s death was a result of his fame and wealth. At the time – and still to this day, regardless of everything that Kanye has said and done – my heart ached for him. What a tragedy. Imagine, finally being successful and wanting to share your success with the person who raised you and stuck by you, only to have that feeling of pride and accomplishment replaced with shame and guilt in a matter of 24 hours.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to feel responsible for your mother’s death. The fame, wealth, respect, the name he made for himself, doesn’t even matter anymore. Kanye worked so hard to make it in the industry, but the fame and recognition only brought him pain. The thought of being famous probably fills him with loathing feelings. The one thing he wanted the most in life is what caused him his greatest loss. Especially under what circumstances his mother passed – this wasn’t life saving surgery that was needed. That’s what probably adds salt to the wound, the fact that these surgeries were by choice to alter appearance and make his mother feel more confident and healthy.

After his mother’s passing, it’s as if Kanye went down a steady downward spiral. He became more obnoxious, but not in the way that I applauded before. I found myself defending him to everyone that had something negative to say. This was a man who was acting out and asking for attention, maybe even help. This “I’m a genius and I’m the shit” attitude seemed like a cover up for the tremendous amount of grief he carried on his back. That attitude and way of thinking is what made past fans change up on him. But not me, I was loyal. I still defended him and listened to his music – old and new.

Then he got married to Kim Kardashian in 2014. It seemed like he was happy to be settling down and starting a family. The running joke is whoever gets with a Kardashian gets destroyed. But to me it seemed like they were a good match. It seemed like there was a period of time where Kanye wasn’t making the news for saying or doing something out of pocket or controversial. I used to be an avid watcher of Keeping Up With the Kardashians in high school and early college. When I went through my social media / media cleanse, the Kardashians were the first ones I unfollowed because their content made me compare myself and generally just made me feel shitty about myself. But I’ve gotten to a place over the years where I can watch the show every so often, I don’t really keep up with them anymore in terms of watching every episode. However, I feel like there’s no escaping their updates through social media.

Everytime I saw Kanye West trending on social media, I cringed a little. Oh God what did he do now? I supported him knowing that he’s grieving publically and maybe is suffering from mental health. I felt like I was defending a friend from all his critics that I knew in real life. But what drew the line for me is when he started to publically support Trump. Even then, I thought it was a publicity stunt and still tried to look past his political views. I thought, There’s Kanye, just saying whatever for attention. But the cherry on top was when Kanye West said slavery was a “choice.”

I was astonished. What. The. Fuck. How did he stray so far from his original views? It seemed like he turned his back on the Black community. This wasn’t the same Kanye from The College Dropout. No way. It was then, in 2018, seeing Kanye in the MAGA hat, supporting Trump, and speaking this hurtful nonsense that I threw in the towel. I could no longer defend him. That’s not the Kanye I grew to love.

Whenever he would make headlines, it felt like that feeling after a bitter break up to be honest. I would see his name in the news or hear about whatever else he said, and I would feel some type of way. I used to look up to you… now look at you… what a shame. I didn’t listen to his new music, but still listened to his old albums – the Kanye I was a fan of. I didn’t want his current choices to over shadow the fact that he was once a great artist. I fell off his fan wagon in 2018.

Everything Kanye related from 2018 to now I didn’t really keep up with. All his Trump supporting content or obnoxious outbursts, I would just take with a grain of salt. Up until now. His recent outbursts on Twitter is making the public go crazy. He’s serving all the hot tea on the Kardashian family, and he’s not holding back. Not to mention that he was running for president, or still is? I’m not sure. All I know is, it was all too much for the internet to handle. The video of Kanye West saying Harriet Tubman never actually freed slaves, then having a meltdown about saving North’s life, then taking it to Twitter, it was like following a movie. What the hell is going on? Yet, my eyes were still glued to Twitter, knowing that @theshaderoom would have screenshots for me if I missed anything.

People were outraged with his comments. I was outraged. The same feelings of what happened to you, Ye?! crept up on me. Reading the comments made me realize that some people agree with Kanye, some don’t, and some think that he is trying to drop hints or clues to whatever deeper meaning he is trying to get to. The “read between his tweets” kind of people. I don’t know where I fall under. In the past, I was so over him and his commentary outraged me. But now I read the tweets of this man who has been under the public eye for almost 2 decades, and I truly pity him.

He’s exposing his wife and her family on Twitter, all their personal secrets, everything they’ve gone through in private – it’s a true shit show. Some people are blaming the Kardashian family for Kanye’s instability, some are egging him on, some blame him. Kim Kardashian posted an update to her followers stating that Kanye has been battling bipolar disorder for years, and she’s trying to help him get the help he needs. However, she makes a point to add that, legally, she can’t force an adult to seek help for themselves. I know the Kardashians get a lot of hate for how they rose to fame, their family and who they date, etc. But these are still real people dealing with real issues broadcasted for the world to see.

When I was reading Kanye’s tweets, I imagined what Kim must be feeling like. To have your husband air out your dirty laundry like that, having this be on the internet forever, and having your daughter possibly find out in the future that you wanted to abort her, all the while dealing with your husband who is having a mental health crisis. We often hear stories about people explaining what it’s like to live with mental health issues, but we rarely hear the stories of the people in their lives that have to deal with the second hand outburts and moodswings. Just because Kim doesn’t have bipolar disorder herself, doesn’t mean she doesn’t carry a lot of shit from the result of being with someone who is bipolar. It’s a rollercoaster for the person with the mental health diagnosis and their loved ones.

Instead of bashing this family and egging Kanye on, I wish people would just let them be. Don’t give him the attention that he so desperately craves (even though it’s so hard to look away sometimes). We know that Kanye says out of pocket shit, but the more we feed the obnoxious behavior, he’ll just try to one up himself. Not everything he says deserves headline attention. We have given Kanye the power to enrage us when we really don’t have to be. Whether he is just making a scene to promote his new album or if he’s really reaching out for help – this is a person who has gone through a tremendous amount of grief and guilt. I hope he gets the help that he needs and finds peace within himself. Fan or not – it’s unfortunate to see someone who was once so great go downhill over a span of years. I feel like this is his rock bottom, and I hope he decides to get help for the sake of his children.

3 thoughts on “Old Kanye

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