Moral dilemma: Separating the art from the artist

Angelina Ning '23, Features Editor, The Shield EIC

Kanye West has not stopped spiraling ever since the passing of his Mother, Dr. Donda West. His moody behavior and drastic life changes have affected him greatly, including the divorce from his wife–Kimberly Kardashian West–of almost a decade, and the custody of all four of his kids.

For many months now, fans and observers have been watching his social media closely, screenshotting, reposting, and commenting on his social media “breakdowns.” His most recent controversy has caused him to lose almost everything. Kanye West has expressed multiple times that no matter what he says or does, his biggest partnership brand, Adidas, would never “drop him.” This all changed in the matter of minutes when he tweeted an anti-semetic comment. 

The backlash of his comment left him with dropped partnerships with brand deals such as Adidas, Gap, Balenciaga, JP Morgan (Chase), MRC, CAA, Footlocker, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, Christie’s, Madame Tussauds London, TheRealReal, and his legal firm, Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe and Rottenstreich. 

Kanye reportedly has lost over $2 billion and now an additional $200,000 a month in child support, to his ex-wife. Kanye West also shut down the Donda Academy, a school which he founded this year.

But should people still listen to his music, and how can we separate art from artists? It is no doubt that Kanye West has been dubbed the father of the revival of the 808 beat and usage of samples, all prevalent in his music. His songs “Bound 2” and “Heartless” have been trending on social media platform, TikTok, and many say that his music is monumental to the growth of the present day industry and the generation of people. Many still stream his songs, which means many don’t plan on dropping his music.

A similar case has occurred in the NBA industry. Basketball player Kyrie Irving was suspended from his team the Nets for refusing to say he had no antisemitic beliefs when meeting with reporters at the Nets’ practice facility.

It is important for people to be held accountable for their actions, especially those in higher positions who have much influence over younger generations. It was smart of the NBA to suspend Irving and for brands to drop their deals with West. But, brands should stop selling West’s creations, as many still refer to certain designs as Yeezy, even if it were branded something else. 

People should still be able to enjoy listening to the music created by West along with enjoying the sport and games that Irving plays in, but supporting them as individuals is a moral question that each person must consider themselves.