It was one of the hottest days of the year and I was standing in the middle of Marlay Park, Dublin, awaiting his arrival on stage.
he huge mirror-type stage decor was set and fellow eager fans all dressed in ‘Yeezus’ merchandise were packed up against the metal barriers.
I was about to watch the 21-time Grammy Award-winning rap superstar Kanye West perform his first gig in Ireland.
Being a fan of Kanye, who has legally changed his name to ‘Ye’, was never easy.
The rapper and fashion designer has a long history with controversy.
And much of the criticism directed his way over the years has been more than justified.
However, it often didn’t distract my admiration for one of the best musical artists of all-time in my opinion.
Kanye’s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of the greatest records ever produced.
His influence on fashion and his styling of his former wife Kim Kardashian can be seen in almost every high street store.
And his deal with sportswear brand Adidas made him a billionaire after the release of his much-acclaimed ‘Yeezy’ sneakers (I owned not one, but two, pairs).
But who could forget West’s tirade against Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, or his behaviour on social media against Kardashian for simply entering into a relationship with someone new following their legal separation?
Both cases are examples of indefensible behaviour many of his fans sought to justify, mainly focusing on a sympathetic approach to a man who has been open and honest about his struggles with bipolar disorder.
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But it’s time these types of excuses for Kanye’s behaviour stop. As a now former fan, watching him spiral into a hateful anti-Semitic rant earlier this month — tweeting he wanted to go “death con 3 (sic) on Jewish people” — was disgusting.
The excuse of a “tortured genius” no longer holds water.
It’s hateful rhetoric, and having spent a lot of time within Northern Ireland’s small Jewish community, it was especially sad.
Shortly before the pandemic, I visited the only synagogue here with my grandmother, who with my grandfather spent a lot of time in Israel.
We heard how the north Belfast place of worship had been subject to various attacks over the years, which the staff didn’t consider to be anti-Semitic.
That changed the following year, when alongside a Jewish-owned business in Londonderry, the synagogue was the subject of a report that police were investigating a “hate incident” believed to be linked to escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza.
We have fewer than 100 Jews living here, but these attacks make up part of a recent report showing anti-Semitism is at an all-time high in the UK.
Other races and religions are, of course, victim to countless hateful attacks, which rightly should be decried, but anti-Semitism is often not as clear-cut — for example, people ridiculously claiming prominent Jews like George Soros somehow control the world.
West’s comments do not require context, nor do they require any sort of justification regardless of how talented he is as an artist.
‘Ye’ has now lost his deals with Gap and Adidas, his music has been removed from playlists on Apple Music, his waxwork has been taken from display at Madame Tussauds, and his management team have reportedly dropped him.
There’s a lot to be said about just how quickly certain companies reacted to his comments, but it’s time we stop making excuses for the rapper.
Many will say what is happening to ‘Ye’ is cancel culture. It’s not — it’s rightly deserved consequence culture.
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