Because every villain has an origin story.
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
For the last several years, we've stood by and watched as music mogul and fashion impresario Kanye West has slowly morphed into a comic book supervillain. From his humble beginnings on his first album "The College Dropout" leading all the way up to his current manifestation as "whatever the hell he wants to be this week," Kanye's story arc is nothing short of a supervillain origin story. He could be a character straight out of the Marvel or DC universe.
Ridiculous, you say? Let's go back to his formative years as a budding hip-hop producer whose talent eventually attracts the attention of rap deity Jay-Z, a super-powered mentor and brother-like figure to him. Obi-wan to Kanye's Anakin before his ego turned him to the dark side.
After producing music for another Jay-Z protege at the time (Beanie Sigel), Jay-Z recognized Ye's talent and scooped him up for his next album, the 2001 classic "The Blueprint." That led to more production duties at Jay-Z's old imprint Roc-a-Fella records and eventually Kanye's own hit album, "College Dropout."
In 2011, the brotherhood spun out into the collaborative studio album "Watch The Throne," a masterpiece project that helped cement their status as not just hip-hop but pop music royalty. After that, the rest is history.
Turning to the dark side
They say power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Underneath the brilliance of an up-and-coming superstar entertainer was an egomaniac that knew no boundaries.
Who can forget the 2009 MTV VMAs when Kanye highjacked Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for "Video of the Year" in what can only be described as an invasion. Stunned, Swift was powerless to stop the overblown ego of a man who obviously believed he answered to no one. He has the delusional confidence of Joaquin Phoenix's Joker doing a great set at a comedy club, while totally unaware that the "joke" in question is actually him.
Enter Kim Kardashian, the most famous member of a family of shapeshifters with the ability to turn celebrity into satire and TV into "reality." Kanye marries Kim and adds another trophy (wife) to his case. That should have been the perfect rags to riches story where the underdog we've all been rooting for lives out his wildest dreams. Instead, it's where he truly begins to fragment into different personalities — marrying into this secret society hiding in plain sight while hiding from the 24-hour cycle of television cameras there to film them.
No sooner than Kanye's star begins to rise does the world witness his humility turn to hubris. With things already strained between Jay and Kanye after the Taylor Swift incident, Jay and Bey being no-shows at Kim and Kanye's Big Fat Italian wedding didn't help. Following a robbery in Paris in 2016 where Kim Kardashian was tied up and robbed while Kanye was on stage, Kanye claimed Jay-Z didn't reach out. And he did so while on stage, too.
It seems even Jay-Z had to take a couple of steps all the way back from this guy.
If it stopped there, you could probably say, "Hey, everyone has a bad day or two." Of course, we all know it didn't stop there. In 2013, the host of popular SiriusXM podcast "Sway in The Morning", Sway Calloway, couldn't sway Kanye from unleashing a furious tantrum. In the now-legendary rant, he likened himself to Warhol and Shakespeare, verbally assaulted numerous players in the fashion world and, in an odd twist, Disney, for not investing in his ideas. Oh, and he also called himself "the number one most impactful artist of our generation." His words, not mine.
This is every villain story where the bad guy starts out feeling under-appreciated and decides to seek vengeance on all who refused to recognize their brilliance. What followed: Kanye in a screaming match at TMZ, Kanye yelling at Chance The Rapper at an album listening party, and Kanye having on again, off again beef with Drake.
Look, I've got a word count to meet and this could go on for a while, so maybe just Google the rest.
When he's not rambling on about his status as the greatest (insert anything) of all time, he's occasionally found time for relationships.
Descending further into villainy, he eventually lends his support to IRL Batman villain Bane. I mean Donald Trump, of course — which makes sense, considering either's track record of strange Twitter rants.
At this point, Kanye becomes too much for even his fake-real trophy wife, who leaves Kanye for tatted SNL superhero Pete Davidson. In response, Kanye immediately places unsuspecting (maybe a little suspecting) actress/model Julia Fox under his spell.
Fox, his new muse, has now become a living doll that he can apparently dress up as his own personal plaything. Julia Fox announced their relationship with a black heart emoji on her Instagram story on January 24, dubbing their unholy coupling "Juliye."
If you need any more evidence than evil alliances, egomaniacal delusions of grandeur, and explosive outbursts on friends and enemies alike to convince you Kanye has fully evolved into a supervillain, look no further than Juliye's matching outfits. Head-to-toe black leather, smoky eyes, and Kanye's accessorizing with various styles of masks. I could see "Jean-yus", which happens to be the name of his upcoming Netflix documentary, being the perfect supervillain moniker. How could you look at all of that evil power couple vibing and not at least be concerned they might poison the city's water supply?
Writing his ending
It's important to note as part of all of this that Kanye has been pretty public about his struggles with mental health, and I'm certainly not attempting to devalue those experiences — far from it. Between tragically losing his mother and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it's imperative to have some empathy for the guy.
However, it's also fair to note that Kanye West isn't someone without the resources to manage his challenges — not everyone who has lost someone they love or has struggled with their mental health has been given the leeway to treat others as badly as he has been caught on record doing many times.
According to 2017 information from Our World in Data, an estimated 792 million people around the world were living with mental illness — and that was before we were hit with COVID-19. However, unlike many of these people, Kanye has the privilege of money and fame to allow him to seek the support he may need in order to live his life with dignity intact.
If he can stop playing the villain long enough to pay attention, he has the power to write his own ending.
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