We finally understand why Kanye West released Yeezus without doing a single promotional interview in the lead up to the record’s release. He was saving it. For right now. As the Yeezus Tour winds down, the usually press-shy West has been everywhere, with turnt up appearances on daytime talk shows, radio stations, and in print mags. And, boy, has it been fun to watch.
Clearly, the thing Kanye is most interested in discussing is Kanye...plus all of those who stand in his way of becoming the next Google, Walt Disney, Nike, Steve Jobs, etc. West has made it very clear that his only goal is to create and innovate. And, while his focus is on product, clothes, education, infrastructure, and probably wallpaper, he shouldn’t ignore what may ultimately go down as his greatest innovation of all: rap beefs. After two straight weeks of firing shots at the establishment, at those that have stifled his ability to change the world, Kanye has proved that traditional rap beefs are so last week. You hear that, LL Cool J vs. Canibus? Y’all are DONE. So, in honor of Yeezy once again changing the game, here’s a roundup of the year in Kanye rap beefs.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; BEImages/Gregory Pace.
What Happened: After Jimmy Kimmel aired an innocuous bit in which child actors re-enacted a typically incoherent Kanye West BBC interview, a bugged out Yeezus unleashed one of his trademark Twitter tirades on the unsuspecting late-night host. And, just like that, the hashtags #NODISRESPECTTOBENAFFLECK and #ALLDISRESPECTTOJIMMYKIMMEL were born.
Signature Moment: Although the two agreed to hash out their differences on Jimmy Kimmel Live, it was a fired-up Kanye who did all the talking, and a milquetoast Kimmel who did the listening.
The Winner: Kanye. Because Letterman would’ve never let Kanye rant for eight straight minutes about his own genius without getting a couple zingers in.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; Zappos.
What Happened: While guesting on Bret Easton Ellis’ podcast (yes, that’s a thing now), West took aim at Zappos, after the rapper received unsolicited career advice from the online shoe retailer’s CEO, Tony Hsieh. “He sells all this shit product to everybody.” West fumed. “His whole thing is based off of selling shit product.”
Signature Moment: Instead of simply ignoring West’s attack or issuing a stock statement through a publicist, as most billion-dollar companies would have, Zappos responded by listing a phony “shit product,” a plunger in a toilet bowl, priced at $100,000, and aimed at “the man who has everything.” Look America! Faceless corporations have a sense of humor, too!
The Winner: Zappos. Because literal puns are literal.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; @nike.
It feels like only yesterday that Nike and Kanye teamed up to bring us the Air Yeezys. Well, apparently a lot can change in a year, especially in the high stakes world of...shoe collaborations?
In a recent interview with Hot97, Air Yeezy himself, claimed that the brass at Nike refused to pay him royalties on the $275 shoes, because he’s not a pro athlete, to which Kanye responded, “I'll go to the Garden and play one-on-no-one. I'm a performance athlete."
At a recent concert in Nashville, Kanye called out Nike CEO Mark Parker, who recently discontinued the Air Yeezys and according to Kanye, “lost culture” in doing so.
Nike. Because in 2012, it generated $300 million in U.S. retail sales for Lebron’s shoes, so like, Kanye who?
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; Jive Records.
What Happened: When Jay Z and JT decided to become best friends this year, all we could think was, “Poor Kanye!” Because, well, losing a best friend sucks. Apparently, Kanye agrees. During a London gig, Kanye, playing the role of the jilted lover, told the crowd, “I got love for Hov, but I ain't f*cking with that 'Suit & Tie,'" in reference to the Boys of Summer’s hit collaboration.
Signature Moment: During a performance of “Suit & Tie” on SNL, Timberlake switched up the lyric "Aww, sh*t so sick, got a hit and picked up a habit" to "my hit's so sick, got rappers acting dramatic." We’re pretty sure he wasn’t referring to Fast & Furious 6’s Ludacris; although, don’t get it twisted — Luda sure can act.
The Winner: Justin. Because he took the high road by calling West a “genius,” and because the whole jealous ex thing doesn’t look good on anyone. Not even Kanye.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; REX USA/Picture Perfect.
What Happened: Hurley, one of the founding members of YouTube, managed to finagle his way into Kimye’s lavish San Francisco engagement and uploaded a video of the proceedings to his new video-sharing startup MixBit. When Kimye found out, they sued, because the only people who should be able to profit from Kim and Kanye’s engagement is Kim and Kanye.
Signature Moment: Lawsuits are bad enough. But, the lawsuit Kim and Kanye filed against Hurley was the meanest lawsuit in the history of lawsuits. It repeatedly tried to depict Hurley as a loser, while citing his “consecutive flops” and MixBit’s “lacklustre launch.”
The Winner: Kanye. Because when the world’s biggest publicity hounds sue you for giving them free publicity, it might be time to take a look in the mirror.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; @louisvuitton.
In 2009, Kanye West and Louis Vuitton made some shoes together. Kanye West has shouted out Louis Vuitton on at least 20 songs. Before breakfast at Gucci, Kanye always makes sure to break records at Louis. So, yeah, Kanye West and Louis Vuitton used to be friends. But, when current LV VP Yves Carcelle refused to take a meeting with Ye while he was in Paris earlier this year: friends off.
In a recent interview with NYC radio station 92.3, Kanye explained why LV will rue the day it punked the biggest rock star alive. “Let me explain to you why you need to meet with me." he blistered. “Everybody in New York City right now don't buy any Louis Vuitton until after January. Now do you want to meet with me? Now do you want to meet with me? Influence. They think that I don't realize my power." Uh oh. BOYCOTT!
Louis Vuitton. Because days after his incendiary remarks, Kanye was spotted in New York with an LV suit case and tote bag, making this the shortest boycott in the history of boycotts. Don’t worry, folks, the Louis Vuitton Don is alive and well.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.
What Happened: The Saint Laurent designer and inventor of the skinny jean reportedly told Kanye that the only way he could attend his first show at Saint Laurent is if he didn’t go to any others. Kanye, of course, hates being told what he can and can’t do. “Nobody can tell me where I can and can’t go. Man, I’m the number-one living and breathing rock star.” he told W Magazine. “ I am Axl Rose; I am Jim Morrison; I am Jimi Hendrix. You can’t say that you love music and then say that Kanye West can’t come to your show.
Signature Moment: For everyone who thought the Yeezus standout “I Am A God” was about West himself, think again. In his now infamous interview with BBC’s Zane Lowe, West copped to writing the song about his former friend, Slimane.
The Winner: Draw. Because sure Slimane comes off looking like as much of an egomaniac as West — not an easy feat by any means — but he’s a god, and now he has the song to prove it.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; REX USA/IBL.
What Happened: It’s no secret that Kanye West and Barack Obama don’t care for each other. The Chicago expats have been trading blows ever since Obama called West a “jackass” following Taylorgate, and West accused Obama of using him to distract the public from his maligned presidency. West then went on to attack poor Michelle in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, telling the host that it should have been Kim on the cover of Vogue instead of the first lady, and that Michelle could never “Instagram a pic like what my girl Instagrammed the other day.” Yes Kanye, because if she did, the Internet would break and then how would we check our email?!
Signature Moment: Obama may have unwittingly stoked the flame earlier this year, when he blamed Ye for the troubling shift in culture, because, according to him, kids never used to monitor what “Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success.” No, but having the POTUS mention you in an interview is.
The Winner: Kanye. Because what better way to prove that you’re the biggest rapper alive than by beefin’ with Bam.
Photo: REX USA/Wayne Tippetts; REX USA/Crispin Thruston.
What Happened: What didn’t? There are tons of celebrities that despise the paps, but none more so than Kanye, who has repeatedly been involved in physical altercations with his camera-wielding nemeses. And, with the birth of North, we expected all hell to break loose. 'Lo and behold, it did.
Signature Moment: In their most heated exchange yet, Kanye went absolutely HAM on one unlucky photog at LAX. The unlucky shutterbug has since charged the rapper with battery and attempted grand theft, and Kanye has pleaded not guilty, even though he totally is.
The Loser: The Paparazzi. Because even though they hate him, they’re letting the world know how fresh his outfits are! Right, Kanye?