Examining the reasons behind one of the most controversial and followed artists of our time.





A televised fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina brought another amazing Kanye West media moment. On camera next to Mike Myers, Kanye says “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” as Myers’ looks on aghast. Race has been a theme which isn’t really discussed much in Kanye’s work but is prevalent. From School Spirit on The College Dropout “I’mma make sure these light-skinned niggas/Never, ever, never come back in style” to New Slaves it’s been there throughout his career. But it feels like, as a white middle class person writing about it, I’m not allowed to say that. His parents and grandparents were involved in the civil rights movement and, quite rightly, it’s something that it seems like Kanye has also taken up.

Let’s briefly go back to 2009: having already shuttered his clothing label Pastelle after never actually releasing anything and designing trainers for Louis Vuitton and Kanye West is doing fashion. Everyone forgets about the Louis Vuitton trainers, probably because they’re not great but, if anything, it means that as he’s continued to release fashion product he has lowered the prices from the $870 that these retailed for. That is price is closer to the resale price for some pairs of the adidas Yeezys however.

At this point along our short tour it’s about 2011 and everyone has heard N-words in Paris at their local shit nightclub. It’s at this point onward it seems to all go Pete Tong. There’s the hilarious BBC interview from 2013 that is off the back of the Yeezus album release. The interview is long and Kanye discusses race and experiencing cultural glass ceilings making the analogy that “my Truman Show boat has hit the painting”, all whilst discussing production processes and name dropping throughout. It’s like a hip-hop interview in beta. Hugely quotable throughout with two salient points to highlight, firstly: “live like you could die tomorrow” reminds us that, considering the car crash, he might actually be doing that.

The second is that “Rap the new rock n roll” followed sublimely by “it’s been like that for a minute Hedi Slimane.” Culturally speaking in recent times it’s rap that fills arenas, rappers who are dying from overdoses or selling out for chart success, who are anti-establishment and it’s Kanye West who’s creatively at the top of the pile. He may not sell the most records but he stills sells out arenas.





Kanye West is someone that people love to hate. He makes it so easy to do so but if he knows he’s talented and successful then does it mean that he has to pretend to be humble for the sake of politeness?

Imagine being about to sign a record deal as a rapper that you’d been working towards as producer only to have it suddenly ripped out of your hands by a car crash. All the beats you made and polos you paired with hilarious gargantuan jeans flash before your eyes. Then you recover and make The College Dropout.

The College Dropout was both commercially and critically successful. This is where Kanye proves his point; the album tells you what he’s been trying to tell people all along, which is a theme in his career and as the albums move forwards so does he in both style and aesthetic.

The next albums that he releases in order are: Late Registration, Graduation and 808s & Heartbreak. Ten million album sales in the U.S. for these make him a bona fide star. It’s not a fluke: he can produce and rap and make hit songs, but we also discovered his penchant for drama along the way.

Awkward, horrible and hilarious in equal measure the 2009 VMA awards where he stormed the stage and told the world that Beyonce should have won the award instead of Taylor Swift cemented the public opinion that Kanye West is a self-righteous dickhead who ruins special moments for innocent white girls. You don’t know that Taylor Swift is a nice person either, just FYI. Though undeniably a dick move you get the feeling that cocaine might have been one hell of a drug that night.





There’s an argument that can be made wherein eBay and other resale sites show us the accurate market value of commodity products such as high end fashion and limited edition trainers. Some of the Yeezy shoes regularly sell for between $1,000 and $2,000. Kids complain that the price is too high, not that the system is fucked and we’re living in a society where consumption at all costs drives everything. The real value of things is often skewed toward financial gain and unfortunately trainers, and fashion, particularly suffer from this commoditisation.

Following the success of the Yeezy adidas launch Kanye told Adidas representatives “you’re welcome” after it transpired that he fronted most of the money for the collection. Generally when brands collaborate they pay for the credibility of the name they collaborate with whether it’s a brand or a person, so in this instance it begs the question who is the brand, who’s paying for whose name.

It feels like the deal with adidas is vindication for his years toiling away and one would hope barriers have come down. Okay, maybe he doesn’t toil, not in a literal sense, but glass ceilings aside I think that this will create a generation of young people for whom type casting and labels are abhorrent. We are witnessing the walls being broken down for them by Kanye. Young guys like Luka Sabbat and Lil Yachty are doing a mixture of things, not having one profession is going to be the new normal. You can say what you like about Kanye’s taste but he’s definitely got an aesthetic and a commercial track record to go with it. Society doesn’t often let people out of their box or to take their label off so why not do music and be a hotelier.

The non-musical guys he’s brought through are Don C and Virgil Abloh. It must be frustrating to see your mate Virgil make Off-White with relative ease and you’re told that you have to stay in your nice rapper box. These three guys are creating the shift in the way that young kids are perceiving and being perceived: they’re still about getting the money to buy pills and weed and fags and booze but they’re doing it on their terms, selling trainers and Supreme online, they want to be creative directors of their own brands and not just millionaires.

Kanye West is what a real rockstar looks like in 2017. Interestingly though was his multimedia album screening fashion show which had what seemed like hundreds of models in Madison Square Garden for Yeezy Season 2. It blurred the lines conceptually of what a fashion show is meant to be. Say what you will but it was a lot more interesting than a lot of men’s fashion shows at any fashion week. There he goes again: pissing people off by pushing boundaries and not being modest. What you gonna do about it? Cry?