Art by Rowan Crawford
Art by Rowan Crawford
Rowan Crawford



Kanye West.


There aren’t many names that can cause such a cultural divide. What comes to mind when you think of him?


Anger? Hatred?


Or maybe,


Pity? Sadness?


Or worst of all,


Relatability? Humanity?


It almost seems as if there are two sides to this argument: One side sees Kanye (or Ye) as a troubled artist, a young boy trapped inside of an adult man, a man who above all – is just grieving the death of his mother.


The other side sees him as a terribly self-aware villain. A man who damages families, leaves destruction everywhere he goes, a man who now seems to be, undoubtedly, the most controversial artist in America.


By writing this, I am not saying one side is inherently right, or wrong. All I want to do is to provide perspective – to lay out the facts. Above all, it’s vital to remember that Kanye (and all celebrities) are human. 


To truly be able to evaluate Kanye’s career, let’s start from the beginning.


It’s 2000, and Kanye West is a rising producer, well known for his playful style, and artistic flair. He catches the attention of Jay-Z, after he hears Kanye’s signature style on Beanie Sigel’s “The Truth”. 


Jay-Z invites him to come to Roc A Fella Records, giving Kanye his biggest break yet – the chance to produce for one of the most sought-after rappers in the game.


When the session ends, Jay-Z is left speechless. He chooses five of Kanye’s tracks to appear on the now iconic album – The Blueprint.


Kanye becomes an in-demand producer, but that doesn’t fulfill him. Since he was 13, he’s wanted to rap, and with his connections from Roc A Fella, and Jay-Z he’s determined to make it happen. Roc A Fella signs him, and when Kanye steps into his studio for the first time, he realizes what he has to do – to make an album unlike anything hip hop has ever seen. 


Things don’t go as planned however, in 2002, he gets in a near-fatal car crash. He’s left with a broken jaw that had to be wired shut by reconstructive surgery. 


Nonetheless, he stays resilient (much to his doctor’s complaints) and continues working on his album. He records, “Through the Wire” with his jaw wired shut, and continues to produce tracks – even while being hospitalized.


It pays off however, because in 2004, when Kanye shows his first album, The College Dropout, to producers at Roc A Fella Records, the only word that escaped their mouth was, “Wow.”

The College Dropout goes on to win Rap Album of the Year, and sell over 4.1 million copies. 


Everything was Kanye. 


In 2005, he releases Late Registration: which further solidifies himself as a force to be reckoned with. Oh, and he drops the catchiest song of 2005 while he’s at it. You know how it goes.


“She take my money when I’m in need

Yeah, she’s a triflin’ friend indeed

Oh, she’s a gold digger way over town

That digs on me (uh)”


That is, until September. At this point, Hurricane Katrina is in full swing, devastating New Orleans, and cities surrounding it, with over 1,300 people losing their lives.


In response, NBC hosts a primetime event, called A Concert For Hurricane Relief , to raise money and spread awareness about the devastation caused by Katrina. The event was hosted by multiple celebrities – including Kanye.


On September 2, 2005, Kanye did something that would change the culture forever. 


Following the script, Mike Myers begins to speak about the effects of Katrina, urging anyone watching to donate. Once he finishes, Kanye makes a split second decision to ditch his script, unknowingly creating a moment in time that will forever be a statement, a simple 7 letter sentence that caused people everywhere to erupt. 

“George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”

— Ye


The internet (a pre-teen at this point) – explodes. The clapback was intense, with media outlets fighting either with, or against Kanye. 

And famously, President George Bush, in response to Kanye’s accusation said, quote, “It was one of the lowest points in my career.” 


Let’s fast forward a bit, it’s 2007 and Kanye is back in the studio. He’s planning on doing a tetralogy, which includes; The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, and Good Ass Job (more on that last album later). 

He releases Graduation, selling over 957,000 copies in his first week. He’s on top of the world – he’s untouchable. Life is good, he has money, fame, a brand new fiancé (Alexis Phifer), what could go wrong?

A lot, actually.


2007, unknowingly, is the beginning of the end for Kanye.


Just two months after the release of Graduation, tragedy strikes.


Donda West, his mother, his manager, his rock, passes away at age 58. Kanye is beyond devastated. 


Their relationship was something that I will never be able to put into words, but it was everything to Kanye. He famously said, “At the end of the day man, I don’t owe anything to anyone except my mom.”

Donda West was an esteemed professor at the University of Chicago, and from the moment Kanye opened his eyes for the first time: She knew he was destined for greatness. 


She was his first supporter; buying him a state-of-the-art keyboard at age 13, helping him to create his first record, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ – by paying to let him record in a basement studio. 


“I made sure that Kanye always knew he was loved — not just doted on and indulged, but loved.”

— Donda West

– Donda West


Scrap the tetralogy, scrap Good Ass Job, scrap his playful melodies, scrap his wordplay – he needs to write how he feels – raw, erratic, heartbroken. From the death of his mother, to the messy split from his fiance: Kanye is broken, and his old sound is gone.


In that grief, and pain – he creates the most influential rap album of the 2000s, 808s and Heartbreak. The album pioneers experimental R&B, and ushers in an entire new generation of rap; Juice Wrld, Drake, Post Malone, Trippie Redd, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – all owe their sound to 808s and Heartbreak.


2009 rolls around, and to the Swifties reading – this is when it gets real. On September 13, at the VMA awards, Taylor Swift took the stage after receiving the Moon Man award for Best Female Video. 

In the middle of her speech, Kanye West, ever outspoken, rushes the stage. And says, the now infamous line:


“I’m really happy for you, and ‘Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”


The immediate reaction was explosive. This was live tv, one of the first real controversies taking place at an award show. People didn’t know what to do – this was uncharted territory. Hours later, Kanye issues an apology on Twitter, though people aren’t sure if they should believe it or not. 


In 2 minutes, Kanye West has become the Most Hated Musician in America, and it would only get worse.


  1. Kanye realizes that he has to do something – something so brilliant that people would have to love him again. He goes to Hawaii, and isolates himself – for 3 weeks, it’s just him and his music. He’s crafting his masterpiece.


He spent over 5,000 hours on each song. This wasn’t just an album release, this was his comeback, his defense – he had no other choice than to be perfect, this would make, or break him.


He comes back to the US, and is ready to drop his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. 


This is it – will he sink, and have to retreat back to his days as a nameless producer? Or will he swim, and make history?


Highly regarded as a masterpiece, a work of art, and his greatest album of all time – MBDTF was a classic from first listen. He did it.


Here’s a quick lighting round:

  • 2013, Yeezus is released, receiving mild success.
  • 2014, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are officially wed. 
  • 2015, Yeezy officially debuts with Adidas
  • 2018, ye is released in collaboration with PARTYNEXTDOOR


2016, The Life of Pablo is released. It’s been 7 years since the VMA incident, but Kanye decides he’d like to shed some light on it. “Famous” opens with a line, reviewing his thoughts on Taylor Swift:


“For all my Southside ni**** that know me best

I feel like me and Taylor might still have s**

Why? I made that bi*** famous (Goddamn)

I made that bi*** famous”


The music video shows a waxwork figure that depicts Swift’s naked body, among others. Kanye has said that the video was inspired by Vincent Desiderio’s “Sleep”.

He was immediately met with backlash from Taylor herself, saying that she never consented to being called “that bi***”. This conflict continues to the present day, with Kim, and Khloe even joining in to defend Kanye.


It seems like everyone, everywhere, is mad at Kanye, for something.

Though a change is coming, one that no one could guess. An epiphany, an artistic shift.


Kanye West has found God, and decides he is never turning back.


In 2019 he releases his first Christian album, Jesus Is King, which secures him a nomination for Christian Album of the year. People are a bit confused – Kanye West…Christian? The same man who produced Famous? 



If things couldn’t get even more confusing, they do. Kanye West then announces that he is running for President. 


No seriously, he’s running for President. 

“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States,” he states on his Instagram.

He doesn’t win, but ends up getting around 70,000 votes.


And now, we’ve arrived. The present.


“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”

This tweet ruins Kanye. 

Damaged his reputation in a way that an album can’t save. This wasn’t the VMA’s, this wasn’t about George Bush, this was about people – a community of people who have suffered tremendously.

Immediately following his tweet, Kanye lost everything.

GAP, CAA, Balenciaga, and Chase Bank have severed all ties with Kanye. He lost 2 billion in one day, taking him off of Forbes list of billionaires. Divorced, disgraced, and lost. 

Kanye West is a curious case. A case of success, of genius, of love, of death. 

What side would you put him on? 

Is he good, is he bad?

Is he both all at once?


Maybe we should let him answer this one.


“You should only believe about 90 percent of what I say,

As a matter of fact, don’t even believe anything that I’m saying at all. I could be completely f—king with you, and the world, the entire time.”


To learn more about anti semitism,  visit 



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Comments (10)

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  • O

    Ollie WarrenOct 27, 2023 at 1:54 pm

    As someone who knows very little about the controversy, this helped shed some light.

  • L

    LisaOct 21, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    Very nice job of pulling together the steps of his journey in an unbiased way. He’s a very complex individual indeed.

  • R

    RosalynOct 20, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Great historical perspective of Ye! Nice read!

  • N

    Nancie ROct 20, 2023 at 10:01 am

    Kanye has had extreme highs and lows. His talent is undisputed. His life choices are summarized beautifully in this article. It was like I was watching them unfold all over again.

  • D

    Dawn HartsonOct 20, 2023 at 7:28 am

    So well written. To me, his life after his mother’s death, is a tragedy of loss of love and accountability. He is seeking the attention whether it is positive or negative, maybe a little of both. There is truth in his statements about Katrina. There is the shock the world statements that took over his talents. I pray he can find his way through his faith roots. I personally don’t know him. We all seek some kind of love.

  • M

    Mavis ShannonOct 19, 2023 at 9:35 pm

    Very well written Mia. Food for thought a miniature bio for folks who only heard his name or about his say we say escapades. Keep up the great work.

  • M

    MomOct 19, 2023 at 8:40 pm

    Growing up I used to really dig Rolling Stone magazine. The articles were mind bending, informative, insightful and very well written. Fast forward to 2023. My new guilty pleasure is THE CULTURE OF CONTROVERSY COLUMN by Mia F.E. Clemons. I’m her biggest cheerleader and #1 fan. Thank You to The Siren for publishing the gold standard!!!!!

  • A

    Adrien EmlerOct 19, 2023 at 10:40 am

    Literally ate and left no crumbs, as always

  • C

    Camilla AdamsOct 19, 2023 at 10:09 am


  • H

    HarrisonOct 19, 2023 at 10:06 am

    Favorite Kanye scandal?