Can We Please Stop Paying Attention to Kanye West Now?

And no, the irony of that headline is not lost on us

Kanye West is seen at ‘DONDA by Kanye West’ listening event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kanye West is seen at ‘DONDA by Kanye West’ listening event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Getty Images for Universal Music

For years now, Kanye West has given us ample indication that it’s no longer in anyone’s best interest — his included — to continue to pay attention to him. The once-great rapper’s last few releases have been sloppy and inconsequential, and his ongoing public struggles with mental illness have led to some truly uncomfortable moments (like during his short-lived 2020 presidential run, when he took the stage in the midst of a manic episode, wept and rambled about how he initially wanted then-wife Kim Kardashian to get an abortion when she was pregnant with their daughter). Through it all, he’s continued to court controversy, spewing problematic beliefs and staging elaborate PR stunts to keep himself in the public eye.

The latest of those came last night in Chicago. At the third live-streamed listening event for his allegedly-forthcoming-but-long-delayed new album Donda, West brought a replica of his childhood home to Soldier Field and stood on its porch alongside known homophobe DaBaby and Marilyn Manson, who is currently being sued by multiple women for rape, sexual assault and other violent physical abuse. On one track, a verse by Jay-Z was replaced with a new verse by DaBaby.

There’s no rhymes or reason that can explain the ostensible point of bringing out a man who made (and then doubled down on) hateful comments about LGBTQ+ people and another who has been accused of being a violent rapist. (Though of course, it’s not the first time West has endorsed someone with a slew of sexual assault allegations.) This is not some edgy statement about “cancel culture.” It’s giving a platform to homophobia and misogyny. What would West’s late mother Donda, such a hugely important figure in his life, think about the fact that her son has chosen to debut a record bearing her name by aligning himself with someone who allegedly abuses women?

The event also featured West lighting himself on fire and at one point being joined by Kardashian, who was clad in a wedding dress despite the fact that TMZ reports the two are not getting back together. These are all obvious ploys for attention (if there’s anything the Kardashians know, it’s how get people talking about them), and it’s difficult not to feel like if you asked West himself what the intended creative statement here is, he wouldn’t be able to answer. Instead of actually completing his album, he’s spent the past few months tinkering with it while hosting these buzzy live-stream events. This is a stall tactic, smoke and mirrors meant to distract from the fact that he’s presenting us with a mediocre, unfinished product.

So please, can we finally admit that it’s time to stop playing right into his hand and giving him the attention he so desperately craves? And yes, of course, the irony of us writing this is not lost on us; by addressing it at all, we’re giving him exactly what he wanted. The publicity stunts worked. But henceforth, let’s collectively try to pay less attention to an artist who is at this point subsisting on nothing but spectacle, controversy and a handful of unfinished demos.

Otherwise, the joke’s on us.

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