What up with Kanye, oops, Yeezy, nope Ye? You know who we mean! While the African American hip hop superstar is no stranger to controversy, Ye’s recent back-to-back scandals have been a bit bizarre and hate-filled, even for him. For those of us who love hip hop and R &B, Ye has been in our lives throughout the 2000’s both as the producer of soulful music like tracks on John Legend’s debut album “Get Lifted,” (2004) or like his own 2005-Grammy-Award winning “Gold Digger” (alongside Jamie Foxx). We watched as his career expanded from music A-lister to fashion designer (he interned at Fendi in 2009 before launching Yeezy in 2015), overall influencer, to one half of the celebrity couple Kimye. After following in the giant footsteps of hip hop moguls like Jay-Z and Puff Daddy – no, P. Diddy, oops Diddy, no, Puffy -Ye has recently suffered seismic, self-imposed losses both financial and reputational. While we have grown accustomed to his provocative political behaviour (remember, this is a black man who wore a MAGA hat and literally embraced and praised the racist white American President Donald Trump), incoherent rants (remembers his “speech” when he ran for president of the U.S.A. in 2020), and public gaffes (this is the man who stated that Transatlantic Slavery was a choice for our ancestors), many – especially black folks – have forgiven him and overlooked these increasingly outlandish behaviours and utterances because of his supposed “musical genius”. But when is enough, enough?
Although anyone with a heart is concerned and sympathetic for those with mental health issues, at what point do we hold adults – especially multi-millionaires and billionaires – responsible for their own well-being which includes seeking and maintaining appropriate mental health care? Money is certainly not an object for Ye in this regard as it would be for most black Americans and Canadians. It would seem that Ye has now crossed a line with many black folks and with corporate partners like Adidas and Gap. After Adidas ended their partnership on the heels of Ye’s antisemitic rants he fell off the Forbes Billionaires list. Choosing to take a major loss on their Yeezy branded products which were reportedly a part of a 1.5- billion-dollar deal, the German sportswear company condemned the mogul’s remarks as “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”. What did they mean? Well on October 3rd, 2022, he debuted his new Yeezy clothing line in Paris while wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt. Did we mention that the Anti-Defamation League has characterized the phrase, often used by white supremacists’ groups, as a hate slogan? Yes, this is the attire that he and black conservative commentator Candace Owens thought appropriate to wear to his fashion show. But if that was not enough of a slap in the face to all of us who believe in and support the Black Live Matter movement, Ye thought it right to publicly declare that despite the horrific footage of George Floyd’s heinous lynching by four Minneapolis Police who deprived Floyd of oxygen by kneeling on his neck and body for over 9 minutes on May 25th, 2020, that Mr. Floyd had died from a fentanyl overdose. Instagram and Twitter finally suspended his accounts in October. Although the mobs that fuel cancel culture often get it wrong, at what point do we stop handing people the mic when they keep spewing shit? Genius or not, when people with money, power, and access speak, their words are amplified, often far beyond the value of what they actually have to say. This is a recipe for disaster when said people seek the spotlight to sell a product or their brand and speak publicly on urgent issues and complex histories from a place of utter ignorance. We think it best that – at least for now – Ye practice the art of silence, get the help he so obviously needs, and stick to what he does best – music.