Brands have fled Kanye. Now his music career hangs in the balance.
We are not talking about the last pop rap artist you’ll see at the Super Bowl halftime show next Sunday, but the Kanye West phenomenon, which peaked with 2006’s album The College Dropout, is in freefall – at least in the United States.
You know the story: West, 45, is a rapper, songwriter and entrepreneur. On April 16, he released his latest single, “Gold Digger,” in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed rules for consumer debt that banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions would have to follow.
West’s initial reaction was to withdraw the song – or at least to halt its release, in hopes of gaining what he believed were concessions from the Obama administration and Congress for the banks. In the days that followed, various media reported that West had done so. But that didn’t happen.
The following day, news spread that West had dropped his request to participate in the song’s making, and that’s when he began to lose his momentum. The single, now called “Famous,” didn’t reach the Top 40 this week, but it has sold only 50,000 copies. The next day, West released a video for the album cut “Jesus Walks,” an attempt to redeem his recent fall.
So far, the reaction to the “golden goose” has been lukewarm.
“He still needs a lot of things to be right for him to return,” says a friend of West, who would speak only via email. West will take the stage in New Orleans on Sept. 1 as part of Mardi Gras celebrations during the Super Bowl and is expected to be the star of the show.
“I’m sure there will be a small amount of coverage, but what else is there to say about him?” says Scott Dworkin, editorial director of a music site founded in 2003, Noisey.com. “The media has been extremely focused on the Super Bowl. Once that’s over, West will have to continue his work.”
So why did West make the withdrawal, and then reverse course and release “Famous”? To what end is he being a hypocrite by pulling the plug now, Dworkin says, and what makes him think he’s not over his