The Most Problematic & Shocking Things Kanye West Has Ever Done

He's a rapper and fashion designer, but outside of his career pursuits, Kanye West is also well known for causing controversy. Over the years, fans of Ye have followed everything from his feud with Taylor Swift to some of his eyebrow-raising remarks about his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian. Though it's been clear for quite a while that Ye isn't one to hold back any personal opinions, the artist's behavior has not only hindered the public's view of him, but it's also gotten West into some serious trouble.

Still, some of West's antics have been attributed to the "Life of Pablo" rapper's mental health issues, which were reaffirmed in 2020 when Kardashian addressed her his Twitter rants on her Instagram story. However, his diagnosis didn't stop the public or the media from remarking on his troubling actions.

Though fans of West have tried to focus on the numerous contributions that Ye has made to both the music and fashion industry, his behavior has ultimately forced some of his followers to admit that his actions have been truly disappointing. But, of course, even with die-hard fans of the "Donda" artist acknowledging that some of Ye's actions have been genuinely disturbing, many of them would be hard-pressed to remember the current running tally of all the problematic things Kanye West has ever done.

Kanye West's infamous VMAs interruption

Even those who aren't fans of Kanye West or Taylor Swift are aware of the infamous moment when Ye stormed the VMAs stage and crashed Swift's acceptance speech. However, for those that don't remember the specifics of Ye's antics, the event occurred back in 2009 when Swift won the Best Female Video award during the annual ceremony.

Unsatisfied with the results, West unexpectedly took the stage and grabbed the microphone away from Swift, saying, "Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'm a let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!" As he said this, the camera panned to "Single Ladies" songstress who looked unsurprisingly shocked by the display, but, of course, the embarrassment was even worse for the "Red" artist.

The backlash was severe, and even President Obama called West a "jacka**" for his behavior. Still, the two artists would eventually make peace with the incident and seemingly put West's outburst behind them. However, the white flag wouldn't last for long, and eventually, their feud would reignite. Even worse, West stated in a 2020 interview for Nick Cannon's "Cannon's Class" that he stood by his actions, saying that his behavior was a result of a higher power: "If God ain't want me to run on stage and say Beyoncé had the best video, he wouldn't have sat me in the front row." 

Kanye West's comment about George Bush

While there's always the chance that something unplanned and unwanted will end up on the air when it comes to live television, this moment was still genuinely surprising. In 2005, NBC hosted "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. According to the Chicago Tribune, the event included tons of well-known celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Harry Connick Jr., Lindsay Lohan, and, of course, Kanye West. When it was time for West to speak alongside comedian and actor Mike Myers, Ye decided to ignore the teleprompter and offer a new and unplanned speech instead. After initially reflecting on how the media portrays Black individuals, Myers spoke briefly before West memorably stated on national television, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."

According to People, West would later defend his words on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," saying he was always "brutally honest." His statement also got the support of Jay-Z and Reverend Al Sharpton, who cited the right to free speech. However, Entertainment Weekly would later state that not everyone was a fan, saying that President George W. Bush told Matt Lauer in a special that he didn't "appreciate" West's opinion: "It was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency." Later, in 2018, West would again address the incident, with People reporting that the Yeezy designer claimed, "I was very emotional and I was programmed to think from a victimized mentality. Of a welfare mentality."

Kanye West reignited his feud with Taylor Swift with 'Famous'

As previously mentioned, the initial bad blood between Kanye West and Taylor Swift initially started back in 2009 when Ye interrupted the "Blank Space" singer's acceptance speech at the VMAs. However, as noted by Billboard, things between the artists had reportedly smoothed out by 2012, and in 2015, Swift spoke positivity about her relationship with West in an interview with Vanity Fair. She said, "Kanye and I both reached a place where he would say really nice things about my music and what I've accomplished, and I could ask him how his [kids are] doing."

Unfortunately, by 2016, Ye and Swift's feud reignited after West released the song "Famous." In a statement to Billboard, a rep for Swift stated that West never made her aware of the now infamous lyric: "I made that b***h famous." The argument centered around what really happened during the phone call West made to Swift regarding the song before its release, as West claimed Swift had heard and approved of the lyric beforehand. Even Kim Kardashian got involved and defended her then-husband. Eventually, in 2020, the entire call (which previously had only been partially heard) would be leaked (via Rolling Stone). It revealed that Swift had not been aware of the lyric, seemingly bringing a much-needed end to the conflict between the two artists.

Ye has connected himself to controversial celebrities

Being a controversial figure himself, perhaps it comes as no surprise that Kanye West is no stranger to getting involved with and defending controversial celebrities. In 2021, West decided it was a good idea to bring Marilyn Manson and DaBaby (who at the time were facing sexual assault and anti-gay allegations) onstage for his "Donda" listening event, as noted by BuzzFeed News. In the aftermath of the occurrence, fans took to social media to share their reactions, many of which were not positive. While some stated direct criticism — like one tweet that read, "Wait so Kanye has Dababy and Marilyn Manson on the stage with him? A homophobe and an alleged abuser?!? I cannot." — others suggested it was Ye's way of addressing cancel culture.

Regardless, West's performance with Manson and DaBaby was far from the first time he was called out for connecting himself to controversial celebrities. Back in 2016, Ye sparked outrage when he tweeted (via CNN), "BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!" Everyone from entertainers to everyday fans shared their disappointment with West's statement. Stars like Sarah Silverman took to Twitter, saying that, based on the facts surrounding the Cosby situation, his tweet "can't be for real." At the same time, Billy Eichner offered a possible explanation to Ye's antics with this question: "Are we sure Kanye isn't just a character from 'Zoolander'?"

He said slavery seemed like 'a choice'

In 2018, Kanye West made headlines after saying in a TMZ newsroom interview, "When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice." The incident occurred when Ye appeared on the show, where he discussed everything from "free thought" to his love for Donald Trump. After West made the remark about slavery, one of the show's employees, Van Lathan, confronted the rapper, stating his disappointment: "I'm appalled, and brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that's not real." Though Ye went over to Lathan and offered an apology to the upset worker, by that point, the damage was already done.

Additionally, Vox reported that the fashion designer later apologized for his comments about slavery on a Chicago radio station, WGCI 107.5, which only made Ye's later actions during his 2020 presidential campaign even more baffling. According to Entertainment Weekly, during West's campaign event in Charleston, South Carolina, the artist went on several rants, one of which focused on a bizarre claim about Harriet Tubman. As seen in one of the videos recording the event, West said, "Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves. She just had the slaves go work for other white people." In response to the West's statement, a woman's voice is heard saying, "Yo, we're leaving right now."

Kanye West's odd friendship with Donald Trump

In 2016, Kanye West caused confusion after stating during a concert in San Jose, California, that though he didn't vote, if he had, "I would've voted on Trump." The response to his statement was primarily negative, with Politico stating that some concertgoers tossed things onto the stage. But, of course, West's support of Donald Trump wasn't just surprising because of the now-former president's controversy; the two also had a strange history with Trump telling TMZ back in 2009 to boycott Ye over his "disgusting" behavior at the VMAs when he interrupted Swift's acceptance speech.

However, by 2016, the pair were seemingly on good terms, with Trump offering West and Kim Kardashian "the best of luck" on their marriage and saying they were both "very nice people" during an interview with Extra (via Insider). That same year, when Trump was president-elect, the duo would meet at Trump Tower, later telling reporters that they "discussed life" and had met up per West's request (via The New York Times). By 2018, their friendship still appeared to be going strong, with West tweeting out his love for the president and even paying him a visit at the White House. But, by 2020, West's feelings shifted. In an interview with Forbes to speak about his campaign, Ye declared that he was no longer a Trump supporter, saying, "I am taking the red hat off, with this interview," bringing the strange camaraderie to an even more bizarre conclusion.

Kanye West confusingly ran for president in 2020

In true Kanye West fashion, he announced that he was running for president via a tweet on the Fourth of July in 2020: "We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States." His statement quickly gained attention, with many wondering how serious West was about his declaration. Of course, the rapper had every intention of reaching the White House, and during an interview with Forbes, West had plenty to share about his political values.

According to the interview (which even the reporter acknowledged was so bizarre "it all sounds like a parody, or a particularly surreal episode of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians'"), Ye stated that he was running under what he called the Birthday Party, saying the name was a reflection of his potential victory: "Because when we win, it's everybody's birthday." Making controversial statements on everything from vaccines to Black History Month, Ye finished out the discussion (which also included "spontaneous freestyle raps") still firm in his convictions. 

Even so, the rapper's presidential run eventually came to an end, with Billboard reporting that West ultimately received 60,000 votes and zero delegates after putting almost $6 million into his operation. Nevertheless, the website for his campaign (which features an ad urging voters to write in West for 2020, an interview with Joe Rogan, and his presidential platform) still lives on.

When Ye stopped his concert to go on a rant

When you go to a concert, you probably expect to hear your favorite artist finish more than three songs. Of course, if you're a Kanye West fan, you have to be at least anticipating some unexpected and shocking moments like his concert in 2016 did. The very bizarre incident happened during a stop in Sacramento for his "Saint Pablo" tour when Ye stopped his show in the middle of performing "Famous" to go on a rant that lasted for about 15 minutes (via Fader).

After initially stopping, West addressed the confused audience, claiming that many of his fans "felt like they lost." He then complained about Google and various forms of social media like Facebook, claiming that they were all spreading lies to people. From there, things continued to derail as West went off about the radio time given to artists like Drake and DJ Khaled, while managing to also comment on politics and complain about Mark Zuckerberg. West finished by acknowledging that he knew that night's actions were going to make headlines, saying, "Get ready to have a field day, press." He followed the statement by declaring that he was canceling the rest of the show, making the entire concert only around 30 minutes long.

He has compared himself to biblical figures

Though some of Kanye West's controversial actions are said to be done purely in the name of creativity, it's not hard to see why Ye managed to stir things up during the various times that he's compared himself to biblical figures. While West is no stranger to reflecting on his spiritual enlightenment in his songs, ABC News still questioned whether or not his 2006 Rolling Stone cover, which depicted the artist as Jesus Christ, was going too far.

Of course, by this time, West comparing himself to faith-based figures was nothing new. As ABC News noted, in "Yeezus," the sneaker mogul refers to himself as "a God," and in "I Don't Like," he compares himself to Jesus with the line, "The media crucify me like they did Christ." Time also brought up Ye's faith-based reflections on the album "Jesus Is King," in which the star says, "Before the flood, people judge. They did the same thing to Noah." The article noted that Ye's depiction had many critics split, with West receiving support from other musical creatives, especially gospel artists. While in contrast, others like minister and activist Alicia Crosby considered Ye's words to be "weak theology" and "not substantive."

Similarly, Ye's infamous Sunday Service drew considerable criticisms, like journalist Tobi Oredein's statement in Premier Christianity magazine: "He's employing a choir of people who are not only singing his songs, but are all dressed in his apparel. Is Christ really at the center of this gathering?"

Ye allegedly attacked one of his fans

Fans of Kanye West might want to reconsider getting in his personal space after a January 2022 report from TMZ declared that West was under investigation for allegedly physically attacking one of his fans. The media outlet stated that Ye supposedly shoved and punched a fan who wanted an autograph, ultimately sending him falling to the ground.

Witnesses to the event claimed that West told the reported victim he didn't want to be photographed before the attack happened and added that the alleged sufferer "hit his head pretty hard on the concrete." However, the article noted that the investigation into the matter hasn't slowed down any of Ye's upcoming projects, claiming that a source close to West said that the artist plans to focus entirely on his work, which includes "Donda 2" and performing at Coachella.

According to The Mercury News, this allegation is hardly a new occurrence. Previously, Ye was arrested in 2008 and 2013 for reportedly attacking photographers trying to get pictures of the rapper. In both cases, Ye was prosecuted and ordered by a judge to receive anger management counseling. The victims in those cases also received settlements for the ordeal.

He threatened to drop out of Coachella if Billie Eilish didn't apologize

Continuing to make headlines for truly strange demands, Kanye West stated in a since-deleted Instagram post (reported by TMZ) that he needed Billie Eilish to apologize for her actions before he could perform at Coachella.

West was referring to is Eilish's concert in Atlanta, during which the "Lost Cause" singer stopped performing in order to ensure that a fan who was having trouble breathing could receive aid. TMZ reported that she told the crowd, "I wait for people to be okay before I keep going." Many considered her comment to be a reference to Travis Scott and the tragedy at Astroworld, and West was apparently in agreement.

In response to his demand, Deadline reported that Eilish eventually responded in the comment section of the post, simply stating, "Literally never said a thing about Travis. Was just helping a fan." Though the post has since been deleted and West has similarly moved on to share his thoughts on other topics, it's still unclear whether or not Ye wants that apology.

Kanye West has made his personal family issues public

Though Kanye West is no stranger to controversy, even die-hard fans of Ye have to admit that his public comments about his children should have remained private. Back in 2020, during his campaign for the presidency, West revealed that his Kim Kardashian considered having an abortion before she ultimately gave birth to daughter North West. 

His public comments about his children have only become increasingly alarming, with West's divorce from his Kardashian and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson seemingly acting as the trigger for his remarks. In early February 2022, Page Six reported that Ye had claimed in a since-deleted Instagram post that Kardashian was keeping him from their daughter Chicago and had kidnapped her.

On Super Bowl Sunday, things got even more bizarre as West released a series of posts on Instagram, many of which mentioned either his family, Davidson, or both. In one of the posts directed at Davidson, Ye stated in all caps, "NO YOU WILL NEVER MEET MY CHILDREN." The caption appears to reflect one of the images, which is a screenshot of a message from the comedian requesting that the two work out their differences, adding that he would like to meet West's children one day on good terms. A later post reflected on the same topic with the artist stating, "I DIDNT WAKE UP AND FIGHT FOR MY FAMILY TO TREND OVER THE SUPER BOWL." West said that he wanted to watch the big game with Kardashian and his children.

Ye won't stop talking about Kim Kardashian

Since their divorce (and even during their split), Kanye West has made plenty of shocking statements about his now ex-wife Kim Kardashian. Us Weekly noted that during a speech while visiting Skid Row, Ye stated that he bought the house next door to Kardashian and alluded to the possibility that God would reunite the pair, saying that "the enemy" had separated "Kimye." The media outlet also mentioned West's callout to Kardashian during his 2021 benefits concert in Los Angeles, during which Ye sang, "I need you to run right back to me. More specifically, Kimberly."

In January 2022, the rapper claimed to have prevented a second sex tape of Kardashian and Ray J from getting out. During an interview with Hollywood Unlocked, West said that the "Keeping Up" star cried when he delivered the video. Ye then declared that his ex-wife's tears "represents how much she's been used" and how people "didn't love her, and they just saw her as a commodity." It didn't seem like West's statements about the Skim's founder could get any worse. However, in February, Us Weekly reported on one of Ye's since-deleted Instagram posts in which West claimed, "YESTERDAY KIM ACCUSED ME OF PUTTING A HIT OUT ON HER." Despite a brief relationship with Julia Fox, West's pleas for Kardashian to rekindle their relationship and bring their family back together have only continued.