Kanye West: 5 of His Biggest Meltdowns

Kanye West at Coachella

Kanye West at Coachella | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

Soon after emerging on the music scene with his debut album The College Dropout in 2004, Kanye West fast became a subject of controversy. Amid hits like “Gold Digger,” “Stronger,” and “Heartless,” the rapper has periodically made headlines not in his quest to become one of the all-time greats, but for causing a ruckus on social media, in concert, and amid his many public appearances. With the hip hop star recently hospitalized for what is reportedly some form of mental illness, West may have reached the bottom of a downward spiral that has been going on for years.

Despite his erratic behavior and divisive response from both fans and the public in general, we can only hope that West finally receives the help he needs to exorcise his personal demons and get back to making more Grammy-winning albums like his Late Registration and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The man clearly has tons of talent within him, and with any luck, he’ll be back on top in no time flat. In the meantime, let’s look back on all of the most notables instances in which West lost his cool. For the record, we’re going to be focusing on onstage incidents rather than Twitter wars. So don’t expect to see his infamous social media war with Wiz Khalifa mentioned below.

1. A Concert for Hurricane Relief (2005)

Just a year into his solo career, West’s first unforgettable on-air faux pas took place during this NBC telethon intended to drum up relief funds for the New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina. In a scripted segment with Mike Myers, West launched into a tirade about the media’s portrayal of the African-American community and, after Myers resumed reading the prepared text, the rapper capped it off with an accusation that President George W. Bush simply “doesn’t care about black people.” It was a jaw-dropping statement and one that few would forget. Yet, it was far from the most shocking onstage moment television viewers would see from West.

2. MTV Europe Music Awards (2006)

In hindsight, this moment really turned out to be a sign of things to come. West had complained before about losing major industry awards, but this was something different. When his video for “Touch the Sky” lost to Justice vs. Simian’s “We Are Your Friends,” West took the stage and began arguing that he deserved to win instead. Sure, he later apologized and even poked fun at the incident on Saturday Night Live the following year, but the damage was done. Critics were beginning to get wise to West’s antics.

3. MTV Video Music Awards (2009)

You really didn’t think we would get through this list without touching on perhaps West’s most unforgettable public meltdown, did you? After Taylor Swift beat Beyoncé for the Best Female Video, West took to the stage to proclaim the latter’s “Single Girls (Put a Ring on It)” as “one of the best videos of all time.” It was a moment that would become a defining moment for both Swift and West, as their feud would ultimately resurface again. It also cemented West’s status as one of the most unpredictable awards show guests in modern times. Well, at least the rapper opened with the fact that he was happy for Swift’s win. That has to count for something, right?

4. 57th Annual Grammy Awards (2015)

Years after the Taylor Swift incident, West nearly repeated the same action after Beck’s Grammy win for Album of the Year. Never one to shy away from attention, West briefly leapt to the stage and then exited again, leading many to believe that he was poking fun at his notorious mic-grabbing moment from years prior. However, afterwards, West clarified that he was, in fact, dead serious and proclaimed that Beck should have given his award to a far more deserving artist who had also been nominated. You guessed it: Beyoncé. A couple weeks later, West would publicly apologize to Beck on Twitter, seemingly smoothing over another brewing scandal.

5. The Saint Pablo Tour (2016)

Kanye West

Kanye West | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Most recently, West had a very public meltdown onstage at a concert in San Jose, Calif., where he retroactively threw his support behind President-elect Donald Trump and asked “black people [to] stop focusing on racism.” As if these statements weren’t inflammatory enough, West also accused Beyoncé of “playing politics” in order to triumph at awards shows and insinuated that frequent collaborator Jay-Z, may have hitmen after him. After a full 30 minutes, West finally ended his show, and all subsequent tour dates for his The Life of Pablo album were canceled.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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