EXPLAINER: So, ah, what's going on with Kanye West?

It all began on April 15.

Kanye West – rapper, tweeter, husband of Kim and self-confessed “free thinker” – returned to Twitter and with that came shootings of rogue ramblings.

It started mild, and so too did the headlines. There were a couple of photos of his Yeezys, a few more mystifying tweets so deep in meaning they barely made sense.

“Kanye West basically wrote a self-help book in his first week back on Twitter,” we were told. The sub-text was a simple one: His ideas were quirky, if a little odd. Largely, they started inoffensive.

And then, well, Kanye West started thinking so “freely”, his ideas bordered on obnoxious. The media started reporting and never really stopped. And so began 2018’s version of “What’s up with Kanye?”; think pieces, conversations and discourse centring on why the rapper is suddenly everywhere with little-to-no context coming behind him.

So, if you’ve found yourself bypassing the headlines because the story seems too far along, too multi-layered, let’s go back to the start. Because like all good fairytales, this one starts with Trump. Yes, The Donald.

Trump and Kanye: Brothers

“You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought,” began Kanye’s first tweets about the current US President.

Ever the wordsmith, Trump was quick in his reply: “Thanks Kanye,” he wrote on Twitter. “Very cool!”


Cool, indeed.

In another stream of tweets, West uploaded a photo of a signed ‘Make America Great Again Hat’, a not-so-subtle endorsement of the most controversial President ever to walk into the White House.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is where much of the backlash began. Trump, after all, has in the past been criticised for insensitive comments on race and ethnicity.

Soon after the Trump endorsement, rumour began to circulate that he’d lost nine million Twitter followers in a matter of minutes. The people were taking a stand! Or were they?

They were, in fact, not. Twitter confirmed the follower drop was merely an “inconsistency”, and Kanye hadn’t lost followers at all.

Regardless, much of Twitter still wasn’t happy. So much so, his wife got involved…

Enter: Kim Kardashian

As is frustratingly custom when someone veers off society’s script with such reckless abandon, many began to (recklessly themselves) speculate about the state of Kanye’s mental health.

Kim Kardashian wasn’t having it, and she certainly let the world know:

The reality star had a point. Conversations about his mental health certainly slowed down, though many still couldn’t see West’s tweets as anything other than erratic diatribe.

A big welcome to John Legend

It was about here John Legend entered the fray. Because what are friends for, if not for warning you that aligning yourself with Donald Trump may offend so much of your fan base?


Legend reached out to the rapper directly asking him to “reconsider” his support of the US president. And how do we know this? They ended up in the Twitter feed, of course.

“I hope you’ll reconsider aligning yourself with Trump,” John wrote in the text. “You’re way too powerful and influential to endorse who he is and what he stands for.”

And then we come to album artwork ideas…

On Saturday, Kanye tweeted – no, we’re not moving off this platform any time soon – screenshots of a conversation he had with Wes Lang, his long-time artistic collaborator.

“This is plastic surgeon Jan Adams. The person who performed my mom’s final surgery. Do you have any title ideas?”

“I want to forgive and stop hating,” he added.

In November 2007, Dr Jan Adams performed liposuction and breast reduction procedures on Kanye’s mother, Donda West.

The next day, Donda passed away.

So, there’s that.

While we’re here, let’s talk about upcoming albums

When Kanye began tweeting, TMZ began writing. They, too, jumped on the bandwagon of Kanye verging on unhinged: “Kanye West breaks with Scooter Braun, sources call him erratic,” they wrote, earlier last month.

Days later, they had changed their tune: “Kanye West the opposite of erratic… strategises album release.”

As per TMZ’s second piece:

Kanye invited [TMZ founder] Harvey Levin to his offices after taking issue with a TMZ source who told us Ye had been acting erratically, and Harvey took him up on the offer, spending 2 hours with Yeezy and various music executives who were planning the release of the albums.

After spending time with Kanye, Levin had backflipped, saying the artist was “laser-focused on the release of five new albums”.


So, it’s questionable publicity grab, then? You’d think as much, but then came…

The car-crash interview that was TMZ Live

Ah, yes. Kanye reaches peak-offensive.

Sitting down for TMZ Live with Harvey Levin and Candace Owens at the website’s headquarters on Tuesday, West started launching into a strange tirade about how he believes slavery was once… a “choice” for African-Americans.

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” West said.

Well, then.

Kanye went on to divulge details of his opioid addiction that came about after liposuction.

“Two days before I was in the hospital I was on opioids.

“I was addicted to opioids. I had plastic surgery because I was trying to look good for y’all. I got liposuction because I didn’t want y’all to call me fat like y’all called Rob [Kardashian] at the wedding and made him fly home before me and Kim got married.”

“I was taking two pills a day at that time. When I left the hospital how many pills do you think I was given? Seven. I went from taking two pills to taking seven.”

For now, that’s about all there is and while there’s little here to make sense of, one thing is clear: Kanye West is a man who wants to be heard sprouting fact or, mainly, fiction.

Sound familiar?

The Out Loud crew discuss Trump and Kanye’s friendship…