When Kanye West broke onto the scene in 2004 with his critically acclaimed album, “The College Dropout,” it seemed that he was loved by just about everyone. But that all changed on September 13, 2009, when he famously interrupted Taylor Swift’s speech after she won best female video at the MTV Video Music Awards. “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” said the rapper, seconds before he was pelted with boos from the crowd. Then, on the following day, West was slammed by Swift’s fans and celebrities from just about every realm of entertainment.
He apologized soon after, but that would be far from the last time West angered people with his words or actions, whether he was calling himself a genius on more than one occasion or making disparaging remarks about American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. And while many have seemed to forgive him for his actions and words (based on his albums continuing to sell), many others simply can’t stand Kanye West. Who are they? Let’s highlight some of the folks who simply do not care for the GOOD Music boss.
Shirley Manson expressed her disgust at Kanye West in a letter
Rude, a bully, and someone who’s completely out of touch. That’s what Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson called Kanye West after he said that Beck shouldn’t have won album of the year at the 2015 Grammys for his “Morning Phase LP,” and it should have been Beyoncé’s self-titled album instead. First, when Beck’s name was called to accept the award, West began climbing to the stage before heading back down, mimicking what he did to Taylor Swift in 2009 at the “VMAs.” Based on the crowd’s laughter, it was apparent that they thought West was clowning around, but that wasn’t the case. In a post-Grammy interview with E! News, he said that Beck should “respect artistry” and give Beyoncé his award. Manson’s letter appeared on her Facebook page soon after, and if she held back while blasting West, it didn’t look that way.
“Dear Kanye West, it is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry,” she wrote in a since-deleted post, per The Guardian. “You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK. You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt.” Manson also told West that Beyoncé doesn’t need his help defending her, so cut it out.
Chris Brown said Kanye West was on a 'path of destruction'
Trying to tally Kanye West’s controversial statements through the years is like trying to count the number of snowflakes in a snowman, but there’s one thing the outspoken rapper said that seems to stand out from the rest. “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said in 2018 during a visit to TMZ Live while talking about Black slavery in the U.S. “You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.”
The word “backlash” simply won’t do to describe the responses that West received after his words, because celebrities, historians, news pundits, and everyday people alike reacted more than passionately. Even one of the TMZ staff people expressed his feelings to West right on the spot. “Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled, and brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real,” said former TMZ co-host Van Lathan. Another person to slam West was Chris Brown, who called him a “clown” in an Instagram post that’s since been deleted. Brown also told people not to “follow” the rapper on a “path of destruction” (per USA Today). In August 2021, the “Deuces” singer insulted West for leaving Brown’s verse off “New Again” on the “Donda” album.
Evan Rachel Wood got radical against Kanye West and Marilyn Manson
When Marilyn Manson showed up on stage at a listening event for Kanye West’s “Donda” album in August 2021, actor Evan Rachel Wood expressed her disgust via a classic song. Manson and Wood were a couple from 2007 to 2010. With a statement on Instagram in February 2021, Wood accused the veteran rocker of “grooming” her, saying Manson “abused [her] for years” as she “was brainwashed and manipulated into submission,” accusations that Manson denied.
Two days after Manson was seen at West’s event, Wood hopped onstage at the Bourbon Room in Hollywood, California, and sang the New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.” “I’ve been saving this but it seems like an appropriate time,” she told the audience before the guitarist began. She then posted the performance on her Instagram page. “You get what you give,” Wood captioned the video. “For my fellow survivors who got slapped in the face this week. I love you. Don’t give up.” Yes, it’s true that she didn’t mention Manson or West in her performance or in the caption, but it’s easy to assume that her cover was meant for both of them. Plus, some might recall that New Radicals’ lead singer, Gregg Alexander, takes a dig at Manson in “You Get What You Give,” which probably gave Wood even more incentive to direct the song toward her ex.
Drake accused Kanye West of exposing his big secret
This is a tale of two superstar rappers who went from friends to archenemies. One of them is named Drake — you might have heard of him — and the other is Kanye West. In fact, there was a time when Drake spoke highly of West, telling MTV in 2013 that the Chicago artist was “definitely a guy that I beyond admire. I have the utmost respect for him.”
Then, some time afterward, there would be much discussion of the two men having a beef with each other, but those rumors turned to fact in May 2018. Virginia rapper, Pusha T, signed to West’s GOOD Music label and released his Drake diss song, “The Story of Adidon.” It was in this song that Pusha revealed Drake had a secret son, and the Canadian rapper believed Kanye West helped leak the big piece of news to Pusha.
In a 2019 chat with Rap Radar, Drake admitted that beyond their “personal situations,” he still considers Kanye one of his “favorite artists.” However, he also accused Kanye of lying in his public statements of affection towards him, saying, “There’s something there that bothers him deeply. … I can’t fix it for him, so it just is what it is.” Then, more drama was heaped on their conflict in 2021. West released his “Donda” album on Sunday, August 29, and five days later, Drake dropped his “Certified Lover Boy” LP. Both rappers dissed each other on songs made for their albums, while their respective fans debated online who would sell the most units.
Nick Wechsler refuses to root for Kanye
Sometimes, art will imitate the heck out of life. Actor Nick Wechsler starred in the show “Revenge” from 2011 to 2015, and it seems he wanted to get some revenge on Kanye West for the rapper’s antics and polarizing personality. In 2014, Wechsler threw a verbal jab at West, and if it was a real blow, West probably would’ve had a nice-sized shiner.
Bleu magazine asked the actor if he would “consider himself a Kanye type or Jay-Z” on the duo’s track, “Watch the Throne.” Wechsler answered, “I’m not either in particular, but I will say this: Kanye counts himself out. If the choice is between Kanye and anyone else, I’m picking the other guy,” the actor admitted.
Even though West was in between albums in the year that Wechsler gave that interview, he was still in the news plenty since he married Kim Kardashian in 2014, and it’s possible that all the press surrounding the wedding annoyed Wechsler. Or, it could be that Wechsler has always disliked the famed producer, and something in the air on the day of his interview made him express that.
Jennifer Aniston hated the Kanye-West-for-president idea
A beef between Kanye West and Drake makes sense, since they’re two of the biggest rappers in the world, and rap is super competitive. And West beefing with the Democrats? Yup, that also probably didn’t surprise many people, as the rapper began ardently supporting Donald Trump, a Republican, in 2016. But a beef between West and Jennifer Aniston? Not even the most ambitious screenwriter would’ve thought of that storyline. But yes, it actually happened, and the “Friends” star found herself in a virtual boxing ring with West. It all had to do with his 2020 presidential run.
Based on her wording, Aniston believed that West had no business running for the highest office in the land, and she discouraged anyone from casting a ballot for him. “It’s not funny to vote for Kanye. I don’t know how else to say it. Please be responsible,” wrote Aniston on Instagram. So how did West respond? He went for the obvious insult, which some might consider ironic since he’s often credited for being highly inventive. “‘Friends’ wasn’t funny either,” the rapper wrote in a since-deleted tweet (via Harper’s Bazaar), and the sparring session was over after that.
Ray J went for the ultra low blow
In hip-hop, there’s old school rap and new school rap, but there should be a category called “middle school rap.” Why? Because oftentimes, rappers will bicker with each other like two eighth graders at recess, which was the case between Kanye West and singer Ray J in 2013. Some may recall that Ray J previously dated West’s ex, Kim Kardashian, and he was in that much talked-about sex tape with her in 2007. So to throw a major insult at the Chicago-raised musician, Ray J released a song called “I Hit It First,” where he delivered some ultra sexual lyrics about Kardashian.
West responded by changing some of the lyrics to his song “Bound 2” when he stopped by “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” a few months after “I Hit It First” was released. “Brandy’s little sister lame, man he know it now/When a real brother hold you down, you supposed to drown,” rapped West, bringing up Ray J’s older and (often considered) way more famous sibling. Then, in 2016, Ray J devoted another song to West, “Famous,” after West depicted Ray J in a video for his own song with the same name. In Ray J’s cut, which features Chris Brown, he implied that Kardashian and West were only a famous couple because of that infamous sex tape.
Taylor Swift wanted Kanye West to just leave her alone
Some might have been surprised to learn that Kanye West and Taylor Swift patched things up after the rapper-producer interrupted her speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The artists became friendly and started going to dinner together. Swift also presented West with a Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 VMAs, so it appeared they had gotten over whatever hump existed. But in 2016, Kim Kardashian leaked a phone call between her then-husband and Swift after the pop star denied approving the lyrics in West’s song, “Famous,” where he references her. Swift talked about that phone call in a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone and said she was tired of her contentious relationship with West.
“The world didn’t understand the context and the events that led up to it,” said Swift about the leaked call. “Because nothing ever just happens like that without some lead-up. Some events took place to cause me to be pissed off when [West] called me a b*tch ‘[in Famous].’ That was not just a singular event. Basically, I got really sick of the dynamic between he and I. And that wasn’t just based on what happened on that phone call and with that song — it was kind of a chain reaction of things.” At this point, no one should be surprised if Swift and West never speak again.
Soulja Boy felt like Kanye West wasted his time
If there is anyone who knows how to take over the media, it’s Kanye West, because he does it every time he releases an album. Ever since the start of his career, West has delayed his projects, and it seems that they only get more attention because of the wait. He’s also known to make last-minute changes to his albums before releasing them, often removing the vocals that other artists recorded for features. It happened to Soulja Boy, who was set to appear on a song called “Remote Control” for West’s 2021 “Donda” album, only to find out that his contribution was nowhere to be found.
Soulja reacted on social media and was, understandably, frustrated that West wasn’t straightforward with him. While speaking to TMZ, the “Crank That” rapper noted that West’s actions were cowardly, suggesting that West used his label as a scapegoat and blamed it for Soulja’s exclusion — and only after Soulja became vocal about his frustration. He tweeted a message about being with West’s ex, Kim Kardashian, first, while challenging West to a fight. Maybe Soulja shouldn’t have expected to be on “Donda” until he actually heard his vocals on the finished product, considering West’s track record.
Amy Winehouse used one of her songs to diss Kanye West
In 2008, Amy Winehouse decided to let the crowd at the U.K. Glastonbury Festival know just how she felt about Kanye West, and let’s just say, she didn’t offer up any praise. Instead, the late singer used the same smoky voice that catapulted her into fame to call him a pretty nasty word while singing “Some Unholy War.” She then turned to her bandmates and cracked a smile.
It was never really known why Winehouse made such a comment, seeing as how she and West never had any spats that spilled into the public. One theory involves Jay-Z headlining Glastonbury that year, which caused a heap of controversy in the United Kingdom, because the festival typically hosted rock bands, not rap acts. So, it’s possible that Winehouse was saying she’d rather open for Jay instead of the “Jesus Walks” rapper.
Soon after her diss, West responded on his now-defunct blog, but he didn’t seem to be taken aback. “This just in… Amy Winehouse hates me!!! Now I’ve really made it,” he wrote (per NME).
J. Cole felt like Kanye West used him 'as a pawn'
It could easily be said that J. Cole’s relationship with Kanye West is a mystery. Although the two haven’t gotten into a flat-out argument that the public knows about, it always seemed like Cole wasn’t all that fond of “The College Dropout” rapper. On his 2016 single, “False Prophet,” Cole slammed West and his music, but in 2018, it looked like the two men settled their differences over the phone. West eventually shared a screenshot of the call in a since-deleted tweet and wrote in the caption, “We got love,” according to Billboard. But Cole didn’t appreciate the move, which he discussed with radio host Angie Martinez that same year.
“He called me, but I would have never posted that or, like, tell him to post that. … That made me feel a certain type of way. I told him that. … He apologized, for the record,” Cole explained. “I told him, ‘It felt like you just used my name in that very quick conversation for social media and…to keep your thing going, whatever you were doing. It felt like it wasn’t sincere because of that.” J. Cole ultimately felt as though West used him “as a pawn.” Kanye never explained why he posted a screenshot of the call, but it appeared that the two became at least civil with each other, sitting together at the NBA All-Star game in 2020.
Team Taylor formed against Kanye West after the 2009 'VMAs'
When Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, it seemed like shock was the first thing people expressed, but that eventually gave way to anger. And it wasn’t only Swift’s fans who went after West; it was a ton of other celebrities, including Nathan Followill from the band Kings of Leon, who wanted to fight him right there and then. Kelly Clarkson also ripped the “Late Registration” rapper in a letter from her blog, writing, “What happened to you as a child? Did you not get hugged enough?” She also wondered what possessed him to “make a talented artist, let alone teenager, feel like sh*t.”
Meanwhile, Katy Perry, who wound up in an infamous beef with Swift, tweeted some choice words at Kanye and added, “It’s like you stepped on a kitten.” Eminem told Spin (via MTV) that West “shouldn’t have done that” to Swift. “I mean, she’s a little girl,” added the “8 Mile” rapper. Gothamist reported that Pink tried to approach West at the VMAs ceremony, but security held her back.
Michael Jackson’s dad, Joe Jackson said, “They should blackball him out of show business for that,” according to The Guardian. Even Donald Trump weighed in and wanted West boycotted. The Chicago rapper apologized for the move more than once, but it didn’t seem to diminish people’s anger much.
Barack Obama refused to hold his tongue about Kanye West
You know you really messed up when your heavily criticized actions land on the President of the United States’ radar. In 2009, after Kanye West infamously yanked the microphone from Taylor Swift, Barack Obama reacted, according to a tweet from an ABC reporter named Terry Moran (via MTV News). But the former President didn’t give his take on West during a press conference or an interview; his words were captured while he was speaking off-record, calling West a “jackass.”
The reporter’s tweet eventually made its way around the Internet and landed in multiple headlines. In fact, so much was made of Obama’s comment that a White House spokesperson addressed it, saying it was truly off the record and “wrong” for ABC to send the tweet. But three years later, the two-term president spoke about West interrupting Swift’s speech, and this time, what he said was very much on-record. Obama’s words came after a reporter from The Atlantic asked him to choose Kanye or Jay-Z. Obama chose Jay-Z but said he liked West, calling him “a Chicago guy. Smart.” When pressed about the 2009 “jackass” comment, Obama answered, “He is a jackass … But he’s talented.” West hasn’t spoken highly of Obama since his comments.
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