Kanye West continues to thrust himself into the center of pop-culture controversy. West made his musical debut in 2004 with his first album: The College Dropout. That year, West sold over 400 thousand copies worldwide and three of his singles, All Falls Down, Jesus Walks, and Through the Wire, hit the Billboard Hot 100. Since then, his careerbecame a whirlwind of success and controversy. regardless of Kanye’s unpredictable outburst and rants,he continues to triumph in the music industry, with 21 Grammies, 3 VMAs, and many more awards and nominations.
Despite West’s transformation into a hip hop legend, his outbursts and controversies often cloud his success. For example, when West exclaimed on national television: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black People,”in response to the lack of relief for the predominantly black community in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina This was just the tip of the iceberg. In the following years, as West released hit after hit album, he also continued to stir up controversy with offensive outbursts attacking people like Taylor Swift on MTV, and even the black community on TMZ. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z8gCZ7zpsQ
He also used his music to purvey controversial and conspiratorial ideas. For example: in his song “Hear Em’ Say ft. Adam Levine,” West insinuated that the government is responsible for the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
West’s erratic and controversial rhetoric continues to shake the music industry to this day. Among many things, West believes awards should be won by talent, not popularity.
In 2009, he interrupted Taylor Swift’s speech for best video performance during the VMA’s to argue on behalf of Beyoncé’s rivaling performance that year. Most fans and critiques saw him as arrogant, entitled, and most importantly out of line. That being said, the outburst sparked conversations about the nature of awards ceremonies and their authenticity and loyalty to talent, not popularity.
Although West is notorious for controversial outbursts and public tantrums, it is important to recognize his musical talent. Throughout his career, West produced numerous award winning albums and served as a mentor to several aspiring musicians.
Despite his unusual behavior, West continues to push the envelope in the Hip-Hop industry.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.