There’s a famous saying that goes, “no news is good news,” and it’s likely attributed to King James the First of England. This phrase goes on to mean that if someone or something isn’t making headlines, then it’s safe to assume that they aren’t doing anything bad. Certain celebrities fit this quote perfectly: Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, Robert Downey Jr … and the list goes on. Most notorious, of course, is Kanye West.
As a talented rapper, producer and designer, Kanye’s interests and personal style drips into everything he creates. However, Kanye is a PR company’s nightmare with his history of off-the-cuff remarks, music award debacles and most recently, a botched presidential bid. The man is only doing well when he’s out of headlines. A man like Kanye means that both his stans and the internet as a whole love to meme the heck out of these moments — and Kanye has plenty.
Kanye was making memeable moments very early on in his career, and it would only keep escalating over time. During a benefit telethon in 2005 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Kanye went off script and declared, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” to the bewilderment of co-host Mike Meyers and the entire production staff. This moment would start a trend of Kanye’s antics and became a goldmine for pop culture and meme trends on sites like YTMND.
Twice, Kanye would interrupt award show moments in order to voice his opinion. The more famous of the two was the 2009 MTV Video Music Award where Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift. This dramatic moment became another pop culture and internet sensation rapidly. Online, Kanye’s phrase “Imma Let You Finish” spread wide as an image macro and even became an Urban Dictionary phrase of the day.
At other awards shows, celebrities would lampoon this interruption, and even Kanye himself did. The second time Kanye would crash an award show was when he jumped on stage during the 2015 Grammy Awards while Beck was receiving his award for Album of the Year. It’s possible this was done in jest, as Kanye did not grab the mic and quickly returned to his seat. However, clips of it went viral, including one of Jay-Z and Beyoncé looking on in horror.
Although recounting every instance Kanye made headlines is an arduous task, there are still many great memeable moments before diving into the more recent Kanye scandals from this year. For one, his freak-out on Sway in the Morning after his clothing line dropped him in 2013 where he yelled, “You ain’t got the answers Sway!”.
Additionally, Kanye’s Twitter is full of golden quotes that stand alongside Jaden Smith as some real head-scratchers. Among those is his inflammatory take on the Thirteenth Amendment, where Kanye said, “Slavery was a choice.” Lastly, he premiered his and Lil Pump’s music video “I Love It” at the Pornhub Awards where Kanye and Lil Pump are dressed like Roblox characters, was a huge meme back in 2018.
Numerous meme formats of Kanye have also trended online over the years, such as Kanye’s Blank Stare, Silver Kanye, Napping Kanye, Sad Kanye and many more.
But without getting too sidetracked with the past, the most concurrent memeable action is Kanye’s curious relationship with Donald Trump and his recent 2020 presidential bid. In 2018 Kanye went to visit President Donald Trump in the White House, and the meeting would likely start one of this year’s most bizarre moments. Back in 2018 however, the meeting was a constant source for memes from the strange things said between the two — from Kanye’s password to using stills as setups for memes. It’s possible that this moment would even inspire the 2020 phrase “President-elect Kanye.” Sadly, Kanye’s bid for the presidency crashed almost as soon as it launched. Not only because of his relationship with Trump, but also because of his failed attempts to get on ballots.
As the Kanye campaign, under the “Birthday Party,” tried to get his name onto ballots, many states rejected him. This was partly due to many of his petition signatures being suspicious, at best. Evidence of the signatures being fake in Wisconsin, for instance, is the result of signatures from fictional characters like Mickey Mouse and questionable individuals such as Bernie Sanders. Any quotes that Kanye made about his policies or his White House plans could have been meme gold. Unfortunately, due to his inability to get on ballots, it quickly became overshadowed and his campaign largely forgotten. In the end, Kanye was never a real contender, but that doesn’t mean his presidential aspirations are over, nor does it mean America will stop reading and viewing his antics in the years to come.
Circling back to the phrase “No news is good news,” the reason it fits Kanye so well is due to his particular nature. Kanye has commonly been poor at communicating his outlandish thoughts. Even looking at the video in 2005, it’s clear he was struggling to stay on script. When he calms down and explains himself, he’s got some great ideas, which is why he’s so successful in hip-hop as well as his clothing and shoe lines. Sadly, one can always look at his most viral moments as him choosing to communicate at the wrong time, in the wrong way, and it ultimately is what makes him so headline-worthy. The moment Kanye stops being news is the moment the meme community loses an inspiration and near-endless source of content. But for now, he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
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