I don’t like paying attention to Ye (formerly known as Kanye) for the same reason I don’t like paying attention to Donald Trump or Elon Musk or the guy who used to flash people on the streets when I was in college. Ye wants us to pay attention, and engages in sensational acts to maintain that attention.
People like Ye, in fact, are the embodiment of an attention economy on overdrive. It’s shock jocks plus TikToks, where value is measured in meme-ability. But now Ye has crossed one line too many in his lifetime of cumulative line-crossing. His relationships with Def Jam, JPMorgan Chase, CAA, Balenciaga, GAP, Vogue, and even TJ Maxx are dead. Skechers escorted him from the building last week. I just wish they put him in their wheelie shoes and rolled him out because that meme would have broken the internet. Athletes have left his Donda Sports agency. And then there is Adidas, the world’s second largest sportswear manufacturer, whose creative partnership with Kanye generated about $250 million in profits this year. Kanye’s decision to purposefully promote anti-semitism while in a lucrative relationship with the German company, founded by a literal Nazi war profiteer, had a predictable outcome: the deal is off.
We’ve been through this before: The Kanye tantrum, the hyper ego, the abusive language and behavior. In 2018 he said Black people in America being enslaved for 400 years “sounds like a choice.” In 2020 he boldly went where no self-respecting (or educated) Black man had gone before and attacked Harriet Tubman, saying, she “never actually freed the slaves,” and “she just had the slaves go work for other white people.” He also donned the MAGA cap and promoted former President Trump, saying he admired his “dragon energy.”