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Kanye West: A TCK Quadruple Threat, Part 2

Kanye West in Portland
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Kardashian era

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian were married in 2014 in Florence, Italy. The lavish, three-day affair cost a reported US $2.8 million with a 600 guest rehearsal dinner in the Palace of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors. The union made West’s position in the Kardashian family official, while also making him a key cultural figure in the Kardashian cult. While their relationship had always been public, it seemed unusual by Hollywood standards that they waited nearly a decade to marry.

Keeping up with the Kardashians

Kardashian sisters (Image credit: Bettina Cirone CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Kardashians, of Armenian ethnicity, were openly proud of their culture and lineage on their father’s side. With their mother Kris’ English, Irish, Dutch, German and Scottish descent, the Kardashian siblings are diverse. This marriage elevated West to an even bigger cultural spotlight and under heavier public scrutiny.

With the Kardashians’ namesake reality TV show “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” very little of West’s life was kept private. Initially the family used the show to promote their brick-and-mortar businesses. But as each season aired, the family morphed into reality tv icons, and the show ran for a total of 19 seasons. Variety Magazine declared in 2017, “Once you get past Kim’s prominently displayed assets, there’s not much of a show here, and no discernible premise.” Critics seemed to agree that the dominant ideology of the show was how to be rich and live as if you’re better than everyone else.

Once you get past Kim’s prominently displayed assets, there’s not much of a show here, and no discernible premise.

Variety Magazine

The New York Times, in an attempt to see the show in a different light, offered the idea that the Kardashian-Jenner family is actually founded on female entrepreneurship, by having each daughter owning and running a business of her own. Special mention is made of their “momager” Kris Jenner who managed all of it. With the premise and primary focus of the show on the five daughters, West felt the need to stay off camera as much as possible. According to Insider, “Kanye was like, ‘I’m not a part of the show. That’s not what I do. I have my own career and life,'” Kim told The Hollywood Reporter.

Kanye’s mental health

West’s mental health has been a dominant issue during the years they’ve been married. According to Elle, West was suffering a manic episode in July 2020, a result of not taking medication to treat his bipolar depression. The internet was wild with speculation that a divorce was imminent after West’s alarming quotes about his children and Kardashian’s ambivalence about motherhood.

Kardashian is “at the end of her rope — again,” an anonymous source said at the time, adding, “He’s off his meds. He promised he’d stay on them. The last time, part of his negotiation with Kim was that he’d get back on his medication and he would work very hard to control his impulses. He made a lot of promises. And now those promises are broken, less than a month later,” according to Elle.

Kanye West on the Yeezus Tour
Kanye West on the Yeezus Tour (CC BY 2.0)

Yeezy

There’s a little bit of Lamborghini in everything I do, Yeezy is the Lamborghini of shoes.

Kanye West, Forbes

Kanye West established a sneaker and clothing brand, Yeezy, in 2015. He has headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany and Calabasas, California. According to Highsnobiety, Yeezy had an approximate revenue of $1.5 billion in 2019. Forbes has reported Yeezy was created by shortening “Kanyeezy” the nickname Jay-Z gave him in the intro to a 2003 song.

In typical West fashion, Kanye markets this brand in an innovative and unusual way, keeping the fashion very basic with muted, monotoned colors. In an interview I conducted with a friend, Karly Dioguardi, she said, “Watching the Yeezy fashion shows are always so mind blowing to me because they always use a very diverse group of models but they are all wearing the same nude, ripped up clothing in different styles.” Dioguardi also mentioned how unusual West’s personal style is so his fashion shows would, of course, be anything but typical.

Adidas Yeezy Boost ‘Oxford Tan’ (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Yeezy brand is founded from West’s deep faith and love for God. His religion, along with his belief Blacks are not the owner of their culture make up the two foundational tenets of the brand. According to rollingout, West said, “We are culture-less. We don’t have our own culture. We signed to culture vultures. We sign our life away, our contracts are culture vultures. Think about everything that’s cultural. Taking the knee is cultural; being on social media is cultural; wearing high-fashion is cultural; pushing a foreign is cultural; all these things are not owned by our culture. So who designed the culture? What does it mean to do it for the culture? That’s why I do it for Christ.” Therefore West declared early his persona, brand, and music is for God and God alone simply because he doesn’t have a culture as a black man.

Moving forward

While West has his extensive music catalog, his eponymous clothing line and fame beyond measure, he still craves more. He declared his intent to run for President of the United States in 2020, hoping such a move would expand his brand. But with the personal setbacks of his mental illness, along with lacking any real political acumen, his dream fell apart. After Kardashian’s public statement on social media about West’s bipolar episode he has kept a mostly low profile. But considering who West is as an entertainer and innovator, this is sure to change. 

Kanye West at a campaign rally in North Charleston, SC (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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