Hey Kanye, If You Call Yourself the Greatest Artist of All Time, You’re Probably Not

If anything, the hype around his latest album—and Ye’s inability to deliver—confirms that I’m falling out of love with the cult of Kanye

Katherine Singh
Kanye West wears white pants and a white long-sleeve tshirt while performing on-stage
(Photo: Getty Images)

Kanye West’s latest album is titled Jesus Is King, and it pretty much took divine intervention for us to actually hear it. Rumours about the release date of Ye’s gospel-heavy ninth album have been circulating since the summer, with an initial release date set for the weekend of September 27. Even West’s wifey, Kim Kardashian West, has been chiming in on the album’s promotion, posting to her own social media in the days, weeks and months leading up to the release. But the weekend of September 27 came and went and in the month since, West has failed to deliver the actual album.

This drama comes a year after West announced that he’d be releasing an album called Yandhi…which never came to fruition. Then, another so-called drop date for JIK—October 25—came and went. On October 24, West took to Twitter to announce that the long-awaited album would be released at midnight. He also shared a track list, and one that differed from the one KKW teased prior. Regardless, fans waited with baited breath, and then an hour after the deadline, the rapper tweeted:

Around the same time as his tweet, fans started posting images and videos of West at New York City’s Oculus Plaza where he was reportedly filming a music video. So, WTF is even going on?

Finally, around noon EST on October 25, the “Jesus Walks” rapper released the album.

While I commend West for finally dropping new music, the back and forth was so tiring. And adding insult to injury, during an October 24 interview with Apple Music Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, West had characteristically high praise for himself while talking about the controversy over his support of Donald Trump. “I am unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time,” West told the interviewer. “It’s not even a question at this point. It’s just a fact. For the greatest artist in human existence to put a red hat on was God’s practical joke to all liberals.” OK, Kanye!

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I’d beg to differ, Ye. Because if anything, the hype around the rapper’s latest album—and his repeated inability to deliver on his promises—confirms that I’m falling out of love with the cult of Kanye.

Kanye used to be great

Let’s get one thing straight. In hyperbolically declaring himself the greatest artist of all time, West isn’t *entirely* wrong. For a while, he was a super great artist. When West first emerged on the scene in 2004, he was heralded for his game-changing material. “Jesus Walks,” the single that arguably put West on the map, positioned him as both a star and a relatable man of the people. In an October episode of The Breakdown, host Page Kennedy pointed to West’s early works like “Jesus Walks” as “game-changing,” saying that although the rapper appeared confident, he let fans know that he was insecure and through that, Ye quickly became the people’s champ.

And as he was celebrated, so was his music. West’s 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was a hallucinatory, self-aware juggernaut of an album. As Ryan Dombal wrote in a review for Pitchfork, West’s album “cherry-picks little things from his previous work and blows them up into something less than sane.” Of West battling with his embittered public persona at the time, Dombal wrote: “with his music and persona both marked by a flawed honesty, Kanye’s man-myth dichotomy is at once modern and truly classic.”

But recently, he’s been caught up in a lot of drama

While 2010 West confronted his imperfections in music, lately he’s just been leaning into them. Since 2016, West has been in the news more for his behaviour than his music. And it hasn’t been great. First, West came under fire after rapping a controversial—and sexually charged—line about Taylor Swift in his song “Famous.” While it later came out that Swift *had* approved parts of the line in question, the back and forth between the superstars did little to paint West in a positive light. And his video for the song, which features likenesses of Swift and other celebs nude in a bed, did nothing to rectify it, with Swift calling the video revenge porn.

Just over two years later, in May 2018, West went on a bizarre rant while visiting the TMZ offices. In the now widely publicized video, West essentially says that slavery was a choice, telling the hosts of TMZ Live: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years, and it is all of y’all?” West later tried to clarify what he meant in a series of tweets, but it was not at all a good look.

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And then, in October 2018, West publicly supported President Donald Trump, donning a red MAGA hat while visiting with the world leader at the White House. As someone who had previously spoken out against racism in the highest office (in 2005 West said “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” in a live broadcast post-Katrina), many saw the gesture and apparent friendship between Trump and West as a betrayal, especially since the rapper referred to the hat—which has become a symbol of racism—as “a Superman cape.” Oh yeah, and then Trump and Ye hugged.

And the new album isn’t helping much

If West is trying to prove that he’s focusing on the music, and not the constant ruckus around him, then this new album isn’t helping. Because TBQH, it seems like West put about as much effort into JIK as the laziest person in a university group project. “We are not going to sleep until this album is out!” is pretty much the tagline for my undergrad experience, when procrastination nation was my calling card.

Also, the album has 11 songs and clocks in at…27 minutes long. 27!!! *This* is what we’ve been waiting for? North’s 15 minutes of Sunday Service fame felt longer than that.

It honestly feels like he phoned this one in.

It seems like Kanye is the only one still buying into the cult of Kanye

But should we really be surprised? With each interview or social media tangent, it becomes more and more clear that, regardless of how many people West physically surrounds himself with at his Sunday Services, it’s only him that seems to be falling deeper and deeper in love with Kanye.

In the aforementioned episode of The Breakdown, Kennedy asked viewers: “Do we even care about Kanye West anymore?” And while Kennedy acknowledges that the rapper is still commercially successful, which means people obviously care to an extent, he says he really doesn’t, and maybe the culture that West purports to speak on behalf of doesn’t care as much anymore either. “We’ve invested too much energy into his worth to be let down with all of the bullshit and shenanigans that he throws down our throats,” Kennedy says. “I’m just not invested anymore. I’m no longer going to be let down by album delays, an uninformed comment or a selfish act from Ye. I’m just indifferent.”

Compare that to someone like Rihanna, another artist who has kept fans on the edge of their seats—and glued to their keyboards—in anticipation of the follow-up to her 2015 album Anti. Despite begging the singer on Twitter and in her Instagram comments for new music, fans will wait until the literal end of time and let the Fenty Beauty founder toy with our emotions because we know it’s worth the wait. But we’re so fed up with Kanye because, as JIK proves, it’s just not worth it.

And as some Twitter users, like BuzzFeed’s Elamin Abdelmahmoud, pointed out on social media, it appears that the fatigue around West is pretty palpable. “It’s plenty telling how little interest there is in this Kanye interview,” Abdelmahmoud tweeted about the interview with Lowe. “Partly that there is just exhaustion with the Ye news cycles, but also exhaustion actually listening to the thing itself. Slice it either way you like, but Kanye has to do promo now.”

And Abdelmahmoud is 100% right in his summation. I have Kanye fatigue. The artist has been in the news *so* much lately, but not in any truly meaningful way.

Even listening to the interview with Lowe, you can’t help but zone out as West continues to drone on and on about his own greatness. We’ve come to expect it from the star and in its repetitiveness, it has become absolutely meaningless. In a May 2018 article for The Guardian, journalist Ben Beaumont-Thomas wrote that “since Yeezus, [Kanye’s] self-obsession has become stifling.” There’s a reason for that viral “Kanye loves Kanye” meme.

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West may need to do promotion for his music now, but I can’t see that need being fulfilled purely because of how highly he clearly thinks of himself. He believes he’s above pandering to his fans, because they’ll inevitably wait for, then flock to, his greatness. And if you tell him anything different, he’ll claim that people just don’t understand his genius. It’s like negotiating with a child.

I know they say good things come to those who wait, but sometimes it’s about actually delivering literally anything when you say you will.

Seriously, let the music speak for itself 

And hey, what about letting your work actually speak for itself, Ye? Most tiring about West’s continued infatuation with himself is the fact that it stands in the place of any tangible evidence to support his claims. The best types of artists, in my opinion, are the ones who step back and let their work do the talking for them. No one calls Adele and Lizzo great because they talk endlessly about how amazing they are (which, honestly, they could and it would still be fine)—they produce hits that say it for them. And West *has* done that in the past, but recently it seems like he’s more interested in talking about his greatness—not even necessarily his music—rather than actually putting anything out.

Now that Jesus Is King is officially out in the world, only time will tell if West is actually the King he’s already crowned himself as.

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