Kanye West seemingly had a successful 2016 – Yeezy shows, high grossing tours, and a critically praised and number one album. But behind the smoke and mirrors, the cracks have begun to show. During one of the Pablo shows last month, the Chicago MC called out Kid Cudi, and after making up with him, called out Jay-Z for not visiting a recovering Kim Kardashian. Following his hospital admission last Monday last night saw the release of an official statement via TMZ and various other publications that he suffered from a “temporary psychosis due to sleep deprivation and dehydration”.
Now Kanye’s always been outspoken, fighting for what he believes in [at the time] but prior to his hospitalization the narrative changed a little and became heavily narcissistic and insensitive. Statements such as “Black people need to get over racism” and the condemnation of Jay-Z seemed to come from a place of pessimism and anger, the tone and aura of Kanye had an air of destruction but is this just a part of Kanye’s demeanour or is it deeper than that?
It’s interesting if Kanye was truly hospitalised for sleep deprivation and dehydration, because it’s a narrative seen time and time again in the music and entertainment business of singers losing themselves in the industry and failing to take care of themselves. In the past TLC, Rita Ora, Mac Miller and pretty much most major stars have suffered meltdowns/hospitalization for the same issue.
In this particular case, it is possible that Kanye may in fact need a break in general from the industry and not just a conventional “gap between albums” pause. Ever since the infamous “Who got the answers Sway?” moment, and arguably even before that, the rapper has appeared troubled and trying to balance being an artist and fulfilling a life-long passion of seeing his fashion recognised by elites in that field. On a BBC interview with Zane Lowe and The Breakfast Club, both in mid 2013, he discusses this rage and discontent with being invited to fashion events but never being taken seriously with his craft. Interestingly this was the same year that the Yeezus LP was released and the whole trajectory of Kanye’s rap career began to change too.
Kanye has referred to himself a lot in his career in the third person and demonstrated immense confidence in his work but on Yeezus, this was even more amplified, perhaps driven by this acknowledgement of self-worth and talent juxtaposed with the clear rejection and dismissal of the fashion realm. This desire of validation continued into the projects that transpired in the years to come, leading to “Yeezy” [for some] now being considered a prominent status brand.
However, one has to wonder, what all of this concentration and commitment has done to Kanye’s mental-state? This constant seeking of approval while embedded with an aggressive public narrative of being the “new Willy Wonka/Walt Disney”, has led to a lingering vibe of contradiction. Kanye not only juggles this but more so, takes on the production process himself, writes lyrics, arranges performances etc. Not to dispute that there aren’t artists in the industry that do the same thing, but we as humans are not a monolith, we all have varying strengths and capabilities and it appears as though Kanye [quite publicly] has suffered a downward spiral due to too many priorities and goals, all being sought with one sole force working alone to achieve them.
Another chilling observation was the reaction to his hospitalization. Due to released footage and audio of Kanye’s meltdown, Twitter and Facebook became a dumping ground for humiliation and meme’s. This is not a new trend, earlier this year Kehlani suffered the same fate when she tried to commit suicide and just weeks ago Kid Cudi was hospitalised due to depression. Social media seems to provoke or encourage trivialization of mental illness, because of the lack of accountability and consequence involved and also the accessibility of such platforms.
Regardless of what the real roots of Kanye’s hospitalisation are, one can clearly see that there has been an internal issue with the rapper for years, one which has too easily been brushed aside by the public in buzzwords such as “enraged”, “rants”, and general trivialization when reporting on him [and others when it comes to spats]. Kanye more than ever needs someone with expertise to listen, and not just for a brief period of time. Above all he needs the ones he loves to understand him.
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