Even though I Tattooed Kanye West On My Arm, What He’s Done Is Inexcusable

Even though I Tattooed Kanye West On My Arm, What He’s Done Is Inexcusable

Many superfans, including myself, seemed to have a decision to make. The man who pushed my search for creativity has left a void where there was once love.

MusicNovember 09, 2022 By Carter Ferryman

I remember where I was when I fell in love with music. It was roughly a decade ago, on two wheels, between the crests and troughs of Chicagoland’s oscillating hills. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s introductory track came on, “Dark Fantasy,” and it's grand, maximal eruption of a proclamation: can we get much higher? Instantaneously, I—a twelve-year-old with little to do and a lot to learn—laid face-up in the grass of my front yard, hypnotized by the sounds being transmitted from iPod Nano to eardrum. I hadn’t just found a passion, I found my hero in the same week he’d found his creative peak. At that point in time, all I had was the music. I didn’t have access to social media, and thus, didn’t realize the guy I was listening to was in the throes of generational acclaim—an explosion of creative praise where popular culture and musical innovation met atop the mountain. But I had to tell people about this album that, surely, I was the only person with access to. 

My infatuation with Kanye West twisted and turned (and mostly grew) over the course of the next eight-or-so years. 2013’s Yeezus had me delving into online discussion and paperback literature on Kanye. 2016’s The Life of Pablo was the spark that led me to pursue music editorial. In 2018, Ye resonated heavily. So much so that a nineteen-year-old me, lost inside my own bubble of anxiety, got the album’s name tattooed on my forearm. 

It wasn’t until this year that my admiration began fading. In years past, when Kanye said something wonky to the media (ex: TMZ), it left a bad taste in my mouth, but I always remembered context was key, especially for a man whose communicative skills were notably odd. But the relentless “airing” out of his family struggles this year bothered me. The public blasting of a guy who briefly dated his wife was also a little disturbing. Kanye has always been candid about his personal issues, but private about the family involved. So for a guy who made family and faith a central theme on his (regressively qualitative) discography of late, it’s downright contradictory. For the first time in nearly twenty years, Kanye felt to me very little like a trendsetter, or the “vibe” in creative culture, and more-or-less just a guy in the industry. 

This past month, my admiration very nearly died. Kanye made a number of anti-semetic comments. Then he doubled and tripled-down on them. And just like that, the man who was deemed by many as “uncancellable” was dropped by every company that held his partnership. Many superfans, including myself, seemed to have a decision to make. The man who pushed my search for creativity has left a void where there was once love. Many people have asked if this is yet another publicity stunt by the mad genius of music. I’d argue it’s far from it. In a digital world where all publicity has become good publicity, this feels different — it’s an irrational series of comments by a man who is not only lost, but seriously mentally ill. What he said isn’t excusable, and most certainly isn’t justifiable, but for that kid in the grass with his headphones in, it feels like a parting of ways.