Kanye West

Should Anyone Be Offended by Ye? Live with Eli Lake

The rapper is undeniably brilliant. And outrageous. But how seriously should we take any artist's politics? A conversation with the host of The Re-Education.


Ye—better known as Kanye West—is one of the great artists at work in contemporary America. But as brilliant as he is in a recording studio or on a fashion runway, he's equally prone to making outrageous, often-cryptic political statements—not to mention weird threats to ex wife Kim Kardashian's former boyfriend Pete Davidson. He has very publicly struggled with mental health issues even as he continues to produce highly praised music and clothing.

In 2018, he suggested that 400 years of African American slavery "sounds like a choice," and just this week his declaration that he was about to go "death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE" led to his Twitter and Instagram accounts being locked. In a recent, wide-ranging interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson, Ye was personable, loquacious, and engaging, even as he suggested the fat acceptance movement was a type of "genocide of the Black race" and defended wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt at his latest fashion show. He also talked about ideological orthodoxy in the entertainment industry, saying that it "drove me crazy not to be able to say I liked Trump."

Is Ye a victim of a woke culture that he says attacks anyone "presenting new ideas?" Or is he the latest in a line of major artists—such as PicassoT.S. EliotAlice Walker—whose personal lives or politics are beyond the pale? Should audiences separate artists from their art or should audiences dismiss them if they hold repellent views?

Reason's Nick Gillespie and Natalie Dowzicky discuss all this and more with Commentary and New York Sun columnist Eli Lake, host of the podcast The Re-Education and a Ye superfan.

Photo: Illustration: Lex Villena; Cosmopolitan UK, Gage Skidmore