Where does one begin when talking about Kanye West? He’s one of the greatest hip hop artists of the 21st century and will go down as one of the most influential figures in the genre. But West has fallen far from his pedestal, and his legacy has become defined by his controversial statements and actions, with his latest flurry of spectacles from the past few weeks taking him to the lowest point of his career and public image.
West is no stranger to controversy, as his career and life in the public eye have been filled with numerous controversial statements and stunts. Some of the most notable moments include interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, claiming that slavery was “a choice,” a surreal meeting with Donald Trump in the Oval Office and his bizarre 2020 presidential campaign. But as ludicrous and strange as these moments were, they pale in comparison to his latest string of actions and statements in which he championed hatred and bigotry.
West’s latest scandals kicked off when he wore a shirt with the phrase “White Lives Matter” at a fashion show in Paris. He was joined by political commentator and Ben Shapiro wannabe Candace Owens at the event. This caused immediate uproar, as the phrase is widely considered a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which West and Owens have repeatedly criticized. West attempted to defend his decision to wear a blatantly racist shirt with a post on his Instagram story calling Black Lives Matter a “scam.” West’s defense of his actions by criticizing the organization as an illegitimate movement is the equivalent of crashing a car into a 7-Eleven and then criticizing the DMV — it lacks all logic and nobody can make any sense of what you’re saying.
But even more concerning than his flirtation with racism is his newfound full embrace of antisemitism. Days after his fashion stunt in Paris, West posted a series of screenshots to his Instagram page of texts between him and rapper P. Diddy, who has criticized West for his shirts. In these texts, West accused Diddy of being forced to call him out by Jewish people and saying “I told you this was war.” This ridiculous accusation plays into baseless conspiracy theories advocated by the far-right that target Jewish people as the source of the world’s problems.
And yet, West was somehow able to take his antisemitism to a darker new level with a tweet on Oct. 8 vowing to “go deathcon 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” It’s hard to even respond to this, as it’s hard not to hear the voice of Hitler echoing while reading this. Like with his White Lives Matter shirts, West tried to make himself appear innocent with another baseless argument, this time claiming that he isn’t antisemitic because “Black people are actually [of] Jew[ish descendancy].” His argument is like a white person saying, “Well I can’t be racist because white people are actually black.”
What’s most concerning about West’s embrace of antisemitism is that some people have been coming to his defense, including a group of neo-Nazi radicals who hung a banner that read “Kanye is right about the Jews” over a highway in Los Angeles County, and dentist-turned-conspiracy theorist Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) who tweeted in support of West.
To top off Kanye’s month of controversy, it was announced on Oct. 17 that West agreed to buy Parler, a conservative social media platform known for being a hub for various far-right groups. I can’t help but see this as a reaction to West being locked out of his Twitter account, similar to how election-denier Donald Trump started Truth Social, an obvious Twitter knock-off, after being suspended from the platform.
Overall, Kanye West has continued to be a magnet for controversy and has sunk himself even further with his racist stunts and antisemitic tweets. Though he’s at a low point right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if West continues to fall further down his dark path of hatred.