Kanye West needs no introduction as his name is a household name around the world, whether people know him for the bad or good things he’s done. The character that is Kanye West can be difficult to understand, especially with his actions of late. Kanye has always gone against the grain of what is popular. For instance, when rappers were wearing baggy clothes Kanye would wear a polo and skinny jeans. What he wanted was to stand out.
From 2003-2012, Kanye was the outspoken warrior who protested what he felt was injustice in the industry. From when he walked out of the 2004, American Music Awards, after losing in the “Best New Artist” category, to the unforgettable moment at the VMAs when he interrupted Taylor Swift‘s acceptance speech to let the world know that Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video was “one of the best videos of all time.” Kanye also infamously spouted: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” on live television in response to the president’s efforts in response to hurricane Katrina.
Kanye once stated, “Name one genius that ain’t crazy,” and while some wouldn’t necessarily call him a genius, you have to admit that he is a marketing expert. He has remained relevant and his music has continued to sell by the millions for almost two decades. During the course of the Yeezus era, people thought he was losing his mind, as his ego seemed to be unbounded. This era seemed to be a perfect follow up to the era proceeded by the release of his iconic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which was much more than just the music. Artistically, the whole project was like some sort of lucid artistic experience, from the songs, to the tour, to all of the antics surrounding the album.
Skipping quite a few “phases” of Kanye, we arrive at today’s marketing strategy, which we’ll call the MAGA era. This particular era may be his most controversial yet, as the artist’s three year hiatus possibly caused the general consumer base to forget what Kanye’s antics are like. Upon his return, his fans were rushing to his accounts, trying to catch up on the artist after being absent for so long. When someone as big as Kanye vanishes, only to reappear once again and out of nowhere, it creates a magnitude of buzz. Again, this exemplifies his skill at marketing, which Kanye exceeds in. We are all familiar with the saying: “any press is good press,” and Kanye knows this. In the current political climate, where it seems everyone must pick a side, Kanye, being Kanye, decided to give his personal input on Donald Trump.
It is safe to assume that nobody ever knows what exactly is going on in the enigma that is Kanye’s mind. However one thing is for sure, whatever it is that he is doing, he’s doing it well. Trying to understand Kanye is much like trying to understand the president Kanye has been supporting – it is as confusing as it is frustrating and contradicting. As a result of his controversial political antics (which he later apologized for after realizing the harm he caused by approaching the subject in the only way he knows how) people and the media couldn’t get Kanye’s name out of their mouths. Conveniently, occurring only a month prior to the release of Ye. He was all over Twitter, TMZ, or any other media outlet. He played the media like a game, possibly for the sole reason of using the cultural climate as a means to boosting his relevance, as he has historically done with all of his albums.
In conclusion, Kanye West may have crossed the line with his antics occurring in what is a very divided and chaotic political time in our country. Personally, I think the marketing strategy for Ye was messy, however it provided an insight into how out-of-touch Kanye may have been with the general consumer base. This likely isn’t the end for Kanye, though he has probably lost a number of supporters over the span of the past two years. Legends like Kanye West can’t be destroyed. He still has the power to move the people like the Kanye we grew to love. So, Kanye, like you said in your track “I Love Kanye,” we still love you like Kanye loves Kanye.