Damn, My homie Kanye is tripolar.
Throughout all great works of literature and art, the divine creator is portrayed by the holy three. Catholics call it in the trinity, comics call it the rule, and photographers call it the law. And when we examine Kanye West through this lens, we begin to understand his varied and unique discography being the result of three separate, changing personas.
Am I suggesting Kanye is someone who houses multiple personalities, and is therefore crazy? If I were commenting on social media I would have to do so to fit in. Fuck you, name one genius that ain’t crazy.
The Three Kanye’s are merely facets of his personality, each shining and speaking through his art. Each of his albums have tracks that show off all the aspects of his character, but looking at his discography as a whole shows clear patterns of change in his life and music, as various personas have stepped into the spotlight to perform.
As we analyze his albums, we’re slowly introduced to each character. First up:
The prevailing, family man. The one that broke his jaw in a car accident and succeeded. The protagonist.
College Dropout / Late Registration : We begin with the persona we’re most familiar with, Kanye. Here we’re introduced to him and witness his rise to fame. Starting from humble roots, Kanye bears his confidence to the world to prove he has what it takes to shine. Songs like Through the Wire, Hey Mama, and Last Call all show off Kanye’s essence.
Graduation : This is Kanye truly basking in the stadium spotlights, and they sure are flashing. We begin to see aspects of Yeezus beginning to become more common. He’s much more braggadocios and proud, and clearly the attention is going to his head. There’s nothing the haters can say to him that will take him down.
808s & Heartbreak : This is Kanye’s final battle – he’s tried everything he can as a person, he’s kept his head up, and this is his farewell. He has endured too much emotional pain and needs a rest. The (bonus version) closer of this LP, contains Kanye’s final words before saying goodbye.
Following this release, his public behavior becomes erratic, even for Kanye. Cue the infamous VMA incident.
The egotistical, superstar Kanye. He goes on manic rants and snaps at the paparazzi. The bad mood, always rude Kanye. The antagonist.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy : A glimpse inside Kanye’s head as Yeezus steps into the ego role. The end of this LP’s first act Power ends with Kanye committing suicide. Act Two opens with an interlude – a slow haunting piece playing at Kanye’s funereal, while the next track All of the Lights introduces us to Yeezus rapping over explosive drums. Many of the remaining tracks feature him prominently, notably Monster, Hell of a Life, and Devil in a New Dress. It’s as though Kanye has runaway.
Yeezus : The sonic qualities of this album are a complete depature from his previous work, and match the energy of his ego. Abrasive, abusive, and unapologetic. He’s embracing his superstar persona and giving the public what they want. This album features Yeezus at his most profane and proud.
The Life of Pablo : The pivotal moment of his career, this album is battle between Ye and Yeezus, with Kanye in the middle — like the devil and angel on his shoulders. The album opens with Ultralight Beam, a song showcasing Ye’s spiritual and religious grandiosity; but then on the next track, Father Stretch my Hands, PT1 you’ve got lines about bleaching women’s assholes. Quite interesting that this songs title is reused in a new context on Jesus is King. Seems like Jesus really did do the laundry. I love Kanye is the turning point of the album, when real personal change occurs. Simply reading the lyrics through the lens of our characterization of Kanye reveals just how accurate it is. He is too polarized and a synthesis of Kanye (thesis) and Yeezus (antithesis) is needed. The “new Kanye” (Yeezus) is hated by the fans, always in a bad mood, and far too rude. The climax of the track is Kanye realizing he still loves himself despite his flaws. The musical feel and sonic qualities of the album immediately shift following this track as Ye ascends. The album ends with Saint Pablo, and it becomes clear that Ye has persevered.
This is the religious, faithful Kanye that is backed by a church choir. He preaches truth.
YE : Although this project is arguably his least flashy and ambitiious, it still retains an intimate, personal feel. It’s clear Yeezus has been defeated, and now Ye is stepping up, ready to preach and find his faith. On Ghost Town Pt 1, Ye declares himself free from the vices he previously fed into. I Thought about Killing You deals with Kanye viewing Yeezus as the shadow self, admiting his deepdest secrets and trying to bring his persona from duality to unity.
Jesus is King : Ye is embracing his purpose and role, speaking about his faith and backed by a gospel choir. The album seems to be a direct response to Yeezus. Both artworks are similar in design — Yeezus embodies the slick, digital aesthetic while Jesus is King is a classic, soulful vinyl. The album ends with Ye proclaiming the mantra “Jesus is Lord”. Kanye’s soul has been redeemed and saved.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9
For those familiar with Kanye West’s personal life, it will be obvious that Kanye’s character arc has undergone drastic shifts when facing adversity and trauma. Kanye has attributed the car crash that wired his jaw shut for 6 weeks as to why he made The College Dropout. His mother’s death correlates with the Kanye character dying, and a more aggressive version of himself stepping into place. Ye steps into the spotlight after his suspicious hospitalization at Ronald Reagan UCLA for being too tired. I’ll be writing about this strange incident soon.
Credit to aidanbh14 for the original article idea.