Opinion: Kanye could have been the best artist of our generation

Kanye West performs at the Samsung Galaxy Note II Launch Event.

Josie Morrow, Staff Writer

Lights spray across the room as Kanye “Ye” West raps from a stage, with thousands of adoring fans screaming under him.
The once popular and adored musician is now known for saying that “Hitler was a good guy,” that he wants to go “death con 3” on Jewish people and that he believes in an ideal world in which Jews are second class citizens. The sad truth is Kanye was the creative of our generation, until he suddenly threw all of his genius away within a few weeks.

I Miss the Old Kanye

Kanye is one of those artists that only comes once in a generation. In every aspect of his life you can see the beauty of his songwriting, producing, fashion, art and writing. Everything that he has ever done has pushed the boundaries of social norms.
He was raised in Chicago and eventually moved to New York City in his twenties to pursue music. When Kanye brought his music to Capitol Records for the first time, producers denied him a record deal because they did not see him as the stereotype/ideal for black male musicians.
Kanye was too different, too unique. Too Kanye.
All of these forces came to a breaking point when in 2002, Kanye got into a car accident, shattering his jaw. Not even two weeks later, he was in the studio making the song “Through the Wire” which would become the lead single on his freshman album “College Dropout.”

Kanye West: Saint Pablo Tour at TD Garden (Boston, MA) (Flickr/Kenny Sun)

In the next year, that same album would push him into the mainstream, charting on Billboard for the first time.
This album, which was created while Kanye was still healing from his car accident, is undeniably one of the greatest albums of the last few decades. The tracks used lyricism and production strategies like nothing that had been seen at the time.
Kanye had blown the stereotype of male African American musicians out of the water, pushing his unique style of music production into the mainstream.
He continued his legacy with a stunning discography of eleven albums, all of which topped charts, breaking records that only he himself had created.
People all over the world found themselves grooving to “Flashing Lights,” listening to the melodic beats of “Addiction” or even crying to “Violent Nights” as we hear Kanye sing about his dreams for his daughter as she sleeps. There is a Kanye song for everyone.
Kanye had always had a clear passion for fashion. He had design deals with Gap and Balenciaga, even making his own sub brand, Yeezy, under Adidas, which was at one point worth around $1.5 billion.
With 75 Grammy nominations and 24 Grammy wins, 60 million records sold, all of his 11 albums going platinum, even until recently being one of the richest Black men, Kanye has defied all odds doing something that few have done before and few will do after.
Kanye believed in himself when no one else did. From the sound that no one had heard of before, to the clothing that looks a little silly, he never once questioned the art that he was creating.
Kanye was unapologetically himself, and that was what created his success.

I Hate the New Kanye

How can a once in a generation artist fall so quickly from grace? It’s simple: you can even see the signs. The alt right pipeline is slippery, and Kanye fell right in. Extremists prey on emotionally and mentally vulnerable people such as Kanye, and he will not be the last to fall into their trap.
Kanye, like many Americans, started simply with supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 election. This led down the partisan rabbithole of Tucker Carlson and Candice Owens; who dog whistle, which in politics is when someone uses coded or suggestive language, to get support from a specific group, usually for more extremist ideas such as the great replacement theory and 2020 election fraud. Soon you see him go from a staunch mainstream conservative to hanging out with known white supremacists and anti-semites.

Kanye West: Saint Pablo Tour at TD Garden (Boston, MA) (Flickr/Kenny Sun)

Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist commentator who is most known for his attendance of the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charleston, has become attached at the hip to Kanye over the past few weeks. He denies the existence of the Holocaust, believes the white race is superior, vocally opposes LGBTQ+ rights, saying that same-sex marriage is deviancy, and has even been caught on tape saying that interracial relationships are comparable to beastiality. Fuentes has single-handedly radicalized an entire generation of boys to believe in his delusional ways, so his ability to do the same for Kanye is not surprising.
Vulnerable people are preyed on when society has casted them out. They need a group to blame it on, and in this case, it seems to be the Jews. Conspiracy theories that they are “running our country,” or even the world, are not only ludacris, but they are not founded in fact. They are founded in bigotry.
Even though it is clear that Kanye is being used, it still doesn’t excuse his actions. Hate speech should never be tolerated, no matter the context.
However, feelings of sadness and anger now brew when thinking of Kanye.
Anger because, for the first time in a year, antisemitism is on the rise. Signs were hung over highway 405 last month with the phrase “Kanye is Right” plastered on them.
Sadness because anyone who has consumed any content of Kanye talking over the past few months can tell that something is obviously wrong mentally. Publicly struggling with a bipolar disorder is not only triggering for some but also almost like watching a car accident you can’t look away from.
One thing is for certain though: mental illness is not an excuse for people’s actions, but an explanation.
A common thread on the internet for Kanye supporters is not that they agree with his recent beliefs, but rather they make excuses for him. “His mother recently died,” “he’s going through a divorce,” “he is diagnosed with bipolar,” “he wrote Graduation bro,” are all common scapegoats for his actions. However, there is no excuse for antisemitism. It is a disgusting, scary thing that should have been destroyed.
Still, you can’t help but feel: What if? Kanye West could have gone down in history as one of the greatest artists of all time. Instead, he will be known for his hateful, bigoted words.