Kanye West: How To Lose Ksh.121 Billion In One Day

Kanye West, or Ye, as he’s now officially known after a Los Angeles court approved his application to legally change his name in October 2021, has become America’s and, by extension, the world’s biggest and most provocative human entertainment machine.

But Ye’s social media paroxysms didn’t start after his widely-publicized breakup from his wife Kim Kardashian. Ye, from the word go, has been a disruptor, a rule-bender, a neck-turner and a jaw-dropper.

Fellow rapper and ex-buddy Jay Z (in)famously recalls the first time he met Kanye.

Kanye West
Kanye West

Jay Z, already an established rap behemoth, with classic albums under his belt, a Hall of Fame rap beef behind him and after bagging the baddest girl in the game, may have, understandably, expected to be treated with some reverence and subservience from a little-known upcoming hip-hop producer from Chicago.

But on their first meeting, a pumped-up Kanye, known in the circles as merely a producer, wanted so bad to prove to Jay Z that he could rap that he literally jumped on top of the conference table, and started freestyling, while Jay Z, still seated, looked up, utterly gobsmacked.

From day one, Kanye has remained the baddest boy in music – not rap music, but music as a whole, full stop.

There may have been Marilyn Monson, or maybe Queen’s Freddie Mercury, or maybe Bobby Brown, or maybe Mick Jagger and maybe even Johnny Cash, but none of the above-named music bad boys could ever touch the rawness, the unfetteredness, the audacity and the courage of Mr. West.

Kanye’s lyrics are some of the most pompous, gaudily outrageous, narcissistic and at the same time magically brilliant lyrics in all of the history of rap.

His brazen braggadociousness has seen him say shocking things that have, not once or twice, landed him in trouble with multiple contemporaries, a particular organization, a race and/or even his own family.

On 2013’s ‘On Sight’, he rapped, “Soon as I pull up and park the Benz / We get this b**ch shaking like Parkinson’s.” The lyrics immediately drew harsh criticism from the American Parkinson’s Disease Association. Kanye never responded.

Again, on 2013’s ‘I’m in It’, he flowed, “Chasing love, all the bittersweet hours lost / Eating Asian p****, all I need was sweet and sour sauce.” Expectedly, he fell out with the American-Asian community who called the lyrics ‘Orientalist-style racism (at worst)’.

And again, in his 2018 single ‘XTCY,’ he rapped, “You got a sister-in-law you would smash?/ I got four of them.” You can imagine how the family dinner went that night.

Kanye has never been afraid to speak his mind – either in private, in a song, on a tweet or on a LIVE nationwide telethon.

Even before his forays into the messy world of Trump, and comical stints at the Presidency, Kanye caught the eye of the White House more than ten years earlier in a pivotal, and now, iconic TV moment for a hurricane fundraiser.

On September 2, 2005, American TV channel NBCUNIVERSAL aired “A Concert For Hurricane Relief,” a telethon to help millions affected by the horrific Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

While every other celebrity gave a little pre-written speech, read straight from the teleprompter, Kanye West decided to break the rules, blubber his own words and controversially ended it by saying “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

America was stunned. And those words became instantly legendary.

The man with the biggest ego in America would then double down on his tomfoolery in yet another embarrassing nationally-televised stunt when, in 2009, after then-newcomer Taylor Swift won the Award for ‘Best Video by a Female Artist’ at the VMAs, a drunk Kanye stormed the stage, grabbed the mic from a shocked Swift and declared, “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!”

Today, that incident, which irked even former U.S President Barack Obama, remains disturbingly ingrained in America’s cultural consciousness.

That incident, and many others before it, foreshadowed Kanye West’s eventual transformation into a pop culture villain.

Ye, now more infamously known for his outrageous fashion shows and predilection for rebel lifestyle, seems to have started going downhill, at least mentally, after the death of his mother, U.S educationist Donda West.

Ye, notoriously close to his late mother, wrapped his whole life around her demise, naming a string of projects and albums after her, bringing up her name and memory in tons of songs and waxing lyrical about her in every media interview he gave.

Like Frank Sinatra before him, Kanye sank further into being a brazen-faced narcissist, drinker, and womanizer, before eventually meeting and marrying the love of his life Kim Kardashian in a fairytale, globally – televised $2.8 million (approx. Ksh.339 million, by today’s exchange rate) wedding in Florence, Italy.

Jay Z and Beyonce didn’t show up. And, well, if you don’t show up to a Kanye party, you’ll feel the Kanye wrath. Ask The Carters.

Fast forward to a blissful wedding that led to a disastrous divorce that saw Kanye lose all his marbles, make life-threatening jabs at Kim’s new lover (Pete Davidson), release a music video of him decapitating Pete’s head, make cringey Instagram videos bawling over losing his wife and more.

The more unhinged Kanye got, the more the world got entertained. While it may have been deemed criminal to threaten the life of his wife’s new lover, by asking his fans to hunt him down, Kanye, by nicknaming him ‘Skete’, escaped the law by wrapping his insolence as fleeting entertainment.

What followed was vintage Kanye launching an unbridled attack on almost all things America held dear; slavery, black culture, police brutality, big corporations, Silicon Valley CEOs, feminism, Trumpism, Black Lives Matter.

As things took a shocking turn – the words continued to recklessly flow out of his mouth, the deranged takes flooded the internet, the outbursts got worse day after day, the attacks on all facets of American culture erupted – the world finally sat back, agape, wide-eyed and breathless at each of Kanye’s latest rants, and it eventually became clear; this was no longer a man simply thinking out loud, this was an American nightmare.

While everyone ignored most of his tasteless opinions, the train finally crashed when he, alongside Candace Owens, wore the ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt.

Nothing you could say in support of that move could ever succour the Black American community.

And when he finally came for the Jews, in a slew of flagrant anti-Semitic media rants, all hell broke loose.

Instagram banned him. Twitter restricted him. Adidas dropped him. Forbes dropped him from the ‘Billionaire’s Club,’ Hollywood distanced itself. Talent agencies dropped him. His lawyer walked away. Def Jam became history. Balenciaga backed off and his music faced uncertainty on U.S Radio.

“Ari Emanuel. I lost 2 billion dollars in one day. And I’m still alive. This is love speech. I still love you. God still loves you. The money is not who I am. The people is who I am,” Ye posted on Instagram a day later.

Rockstar Ozzy Osborne may have publicly bit off the head of a bat, even urinated on a venerable public statue while wearing his wife’s dress, but none of that can top Kanye at his atrociously worst.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how to lose a billion dollars (approx. Ksh.121 billion) in one day.

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