We Need to Talk About Kanye West’s Disregard for Abuse Survivors

Trigger Warning: This piece discusses Kanye West’s support of alleged sexual and domestic abusers. Please be cautious if you think this may upset or overwhelm you!

Kanye West is almost always making headlines, but when’s the last time it was for something good? Most recently, he’s disappointed fans with several postponements of his Donda album, which was supposed to drop in July, and he’s now catching heat for bringing out alleged serial abuser Marilyn Manson and DaBaby, who went on a homophobic rant at Lollapalooza, at a listening party for the yet-to-be-released album.

This is fairly unsurprising for anyone who’s kept up with Kanye’s misadventures in the media, but his fans have dismissed critics and concerns throughout the years, including his own abuse allegations around 2012. The first major criticism of Kanye’s support of alleged abusers came when he infamously tweeted “BILL COSBY INNOCENT” in February 2016 – Cosby faced abuse accusations by 60 women and spent three years in jail for assault charges.

While many fans and skeptics spoke out against the tweet, some fans and outlets like The Atlantic shrugged it off as just Kanye being Kanye, contributing to the normalization of supporting abusers. He further discussed his sympathy for Cosby on his 2016 track “Facts”:

Do anybody feel bad for Bill Cosby?

Did he forget the names just like Steve Harvey?

Kanye West, “Facts”

By the summer of 2016, the resurgence of Kanye’s feud with Taylor Swift was in full-force again after an edited phone call made the public believe she lied about approving lyrics for his controversial track “Famous,” on which Kanye claimed credit for her success. The song’s music video features stars like Swift naked in a bed, which some, including Swift, have called a form of “revenge porn.”

It’s worth noting that Swift was sexually assaulted in 2013 and sued for “defaming” the man she accused in 2015, and the video also placed Rihanna near Chris Brown, who was charged for assaulting her in 2009. West later created a museum exhibit featuring the nude wax figures he used in the video, further profiting off this explotation.

(c) Universal Music Group, censored screencap via DJBooth

While Kanye was doing this in 2016, Florida rapper XXXTentacion faced trial for allegedly abusing his pregnant girlfriend. Two years later, Kanye featured on XXX’s posthumous track “One Minute” and raised concerns for his verse that seemingly made light of abuse allegations faced by men like XXX:

Now your name is tainted by the claims they paintin’

The defendant is guilty, no one blames the plaintiff

Gotta say it in Layman’s terms, while you wait on arraignments

‘Cause if the jury say you did it, the payment is heinous

Kanye West, “One Minute”

The end of 2018 brought about another whirlwind of suspicious behavior and cosigns. In September, Kanye showed support for fashion designer A$AP Bari, who allegedly assaulted a woman in 2017 and was found guilty in January 2019. Kanye shared in a since-deleted Instagram post, which also shouts out XXXTentacion: 

Bari challenged me when no one else did and when he got in trouble I was scared to say he was my friend just like I did with xxx and that was some pussy shit on my part. I let the perception and the robots control me. That’s the true sunken place. Bari I appreciate your perspective and vision. […] Jedis never let perception and cancel culture get between them.

Kanye West, Instagram

Later that month, Kanye praised comedian Louis CK, who faced sexual misconduct allegations from five women, and in November 2018, he featured on 6ix9ine’s “MAMA” – in 2015, 6ix9ine plead guilty to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Now, flash forward to 2021, Kanye is still openly supporting alleged abusers like Marilyn Manson, who has been facing such allegations for decades.

Kanye’s fans have often used “separate art from the artist” as a reason to keep supporting him, citing his musical talents and production skills as things they want to keep enjoying. But ignoring his dangerous attitudes and behaviors is impossible, and there are millions of other talented musicians around the world, many of them Black artists, who don’t get nearly as many opportunities as more prominent acts like Kanye. As a music fan, you have the means to support these overlooked artists, and it’s more productive to invest your energy in them than someone who has repeatedly supported alleged abusers and rapists.

One response to “We Need to Talk About Kanye West’s Disregard for Abuse Survivors”

  1. […] But that night, listeners wanted to hear all about his work with GRAMMY winners Jon Batiste and Kanye West! Jon was one of the biggest winners of the night, taking home 5 awards including the coveted Album […]

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