Ye: The Controversy

Can you separate the artist from the music?


Natalie Naylor, Staff Writer

From anti-Semitic to racist comments, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, has covered it all. Since Ye’s “revolutionary” release of Billboard top-hitter “Through the Wire’‘ in 2004, he has yet to fall off A-list celebrity status. Now 54 and sharing four kids with celebrity Kim Kardashian, he has come out with over 11 albums and is one of the best rappers of all time.

Ye’s fortune and artistry are undeniable. Songs like “Bound 2,” “Homecoming,” and Gold Digger” appear on playlists daily. Married to one of LA’s biggest celebrities, Kim Kardashian, from 2014-2022, his talent and status helped him rise to the top.

With “all of the lights on him” (pun not intended), Ye’s timeline of controversial happenings is complex and lengthy, which is not the type of exposure to be proud of. From iconic disruptions like Taylor Swift’s 2009 MTV VMA interruption to very questionable anti-Semitic comments on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, no controversy sparked a flame quite like this. 

Recently, Ye made tone-deaf comments about the passing of Queen Elizabeth in reference to his ex-girlfriend, posting, “London I know how you feel I lost my queen too.” Sadly, this ignorant comment is the least of his hurtful words. With millions of impressionable teens and listeners in his following, he wore a “white lives matter” jacket to the Balenciaga fashion show on October 7th of 2022, following a deleted anti-Semitic post during a heated exchange with rapper P-Diddy. After being restricted from Instagram later that night, he took to his dormant Twitter account, in which he responded to an article claiming he was anti-Semitic by using even stronger anti-Semitic language. 

Ye’s history of offensiveness prompts an important question: Can you separate an artist’s actions from their music? SHS senior Nate Lauzon commented, “No, you need both–if someone’s a terrible person, you shouldn’t listen to them and give them money.” On the other hand, some students said they believe all artists put messages in everything they do, and if you really listen to their music, you will follow their lives.

Silence is both acceptance and compliance. Yes, I did like Ye’s music, but I will be thinking twice next time I hear one of his songs. To those who still support him, I strongly urge you to rethink your playlist and understand that listening to Ye’s music funds his hate speech.