Ye (or How This Generation Separates Art From The Artist)

How much of Kanye’s controversial reign is justifiable? Trick question: None.



Kanye West’s career is over – and rightfully so.

The abridged version of this article appeared in the Nov. 2022 print edition of The Mirror. This is an uncut version.

A provocateur will challenge societal boundaries through their artistic lens, not for self-gratification but for the sake of artistic integrity. A true artist will create a piece and take no audience into consideration, as it is the piece that matters above all. An artist won’t explain the virtue of their work, but will create and stand by it. However, an artist will not claim nor identify as one, nor preach the word that their merits can reach a level beyond observation or go to a new plain of existence entirely. It is by this reasoning that I believe Kanye West is no provocateur, nor an artist, just an erratic maniac.

You can legally and logistically say anything you want. No one is stopping you from claiming yourself to be a god and the most influential artist of a generation, or saying that you’re going to go to drastic extents to spread negativity towards specific communities (like stating you’re going to go “Defcon-3 on Jewish people”) – though you will be held accountable in the event that you say something stupid. 

The sad truth is that there was time you could call West a daring artist, visibly and audibly distributing his hellish mentality through music that rang in everyone’s ears. Celebrities are gods in the eyes of the general masses, and if ever there was a hierarchy, Mr. West would be at the tippy top of it. However, we all know just how quickly it takes for someone to fall from the top.

What we are currently bearing witness to with West is a prime example of how young people in the digital age utilize the mob mentality that comes with cancel culture – which plays a pivotal role in the modern landscape of music, and Kanye specifically. 

For the past couple of months, the artist has been the source of egregious controversy. From his divorce, to his bid for presidency and evident struggle with mental health, the man has a knack for getting himself into hot water. Only now are people finally speaking up.

I bore witness to many declarations from people removing his music from their streaming libraries and playlists, which was one of many examples of my generation completely missing the point of denouncing a horrible public figure. There is a stark difference between advocating an artist’s work as opposed to the person behind said art. They are not one in the same, the art is, if you can believe, not always inherently an unapologetic depiction of the artist behind it. To denounce West is to denounce West, to denounce his music because of how you view him personally isn’t the same thing. He is not by default ‘good’ because the music is, nor is his music ‘bad’ because he is. His music and his character are unrelated.

The fact of the matter is that this man has always been irreverent and nonsensical. His adoring fans hold even more respect for him now, while those who despise him become more infuriated. Theres always multiple sides to a story, but sometimes something is evident. Sometimes, there’s just an asshole with blind supporters. 

To use the excuse that he is simply challenging the mainstream is to lie, because there’s a difference between being provocative and being vindictive and childish. There are people out there who need something to hold onto, someone to follow. For many people that person is West.

The people seeking a redemption arc for West are blatantly ignoring the fact that he is flagrantly prejudiced, creatively bankrupt and I’ll restate it: insane. He is insane. West is insane and we all need to stop talking about him. Maintaining his presence in the public eye deliberately keeps him within the confines of the mainstream, and to continue to talk about him is to give him the power we so desperately want to take away from him.