Should we separate the art from the artist? Kanye’s new album has divided fans

If anyone’s been on the internet recently – or, more specifically, Twitter – you’ll know that Kanye West has drawn away from his usual self-love tweets and has been spouting some pretty questionable things. Okay, Twitter denouncing and demonising someone just because they’re a Trump supporter is perhaps a bit far, but tweeting that ‘slavery was a choice’ wasn’t exactly great on Kanye’s part.

There ensued a barrage of people saying that Kanye ought to be cancelled, that his new album should be boycotted, that he ought to be stripped of any fame. And perhaps rightly – why give a voice to someone claiming that centuries of forced enslavement was a choice made by black people all over the world?

But his new album, entitled ‘ye’, has put Kanye back in the limelight – and while fans are generally happy to consume his new music, there are still some people clamouring to boycott it.

Having listened to Kanye’s bizarre Twitter rants as well as his new album, I’ve come to accept a sort of middle ground.

What Kanye tweeted wasn’t okay, but his music is still genius to me. It’s still just as catchy, just as moving, just as incredible. I might even go as far as saying that this new album is my favourite. Reconciling that to the person wasn’t easy, but then I realised – I didn’t have to.

If being an English Literature student and reading texts with a mind to Barthes’ ‘Death of the Author’ (the theory that the author is not present in the text) has taught me anything, it’s that we can divorce the man from the music. Kanye may not be a good person at times – but he can still make good music. And maybe it’s okay that way. We don’t have to like both.

Maybe the best way to consume music is to divorce the creator from the art; Kanye’s music is often personal, especially on this new album, but it’s still just as meaningful without knowing much about the man himself. Arguably, it’s richer that way: we apply meaning to it ourselves, rather than bearing Kanye’s context in mind.

So, if anyone else is like me and is out there struggling to enjoy ‘ye’ due to Kanye’s Twitter antics, just free yourself. It doesn’t mean you support anything Kanye says – it isn’t that deep. It just means you have, (in my opinion), great taste in hip-hop.

Do you rate ‘ye’?

Serena Smith

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