To the untrained eye, Kanye West is a trainwreck. Okay, he is a trainwreck.
But what do people do when they see a trainwreck? They give it their full attention. They can’t look away.
If you’re Kanye West, that’s a good thing, because eyeballs are his currency.
After meeting President Trump in the White House on Oct. 11, Kanye followed with a bonkers social media rant about mind control and then flew to Africa to donate shoes and money to an orphanage. As a result, Kanye’s Google search trends 30-day ranking topped out at 99 out of 100 on Oct. 12 He scored a perfect 100 on Sept. 30 after his SNL performance.
For context, a newly pregnant Meghan Markle only scored an 82 this week using the same measures. The death of billionaire Paul Allen only produced a score of 73 for the Seahawks owner.
Many of you will shake your heads and assert that he’s not getting the right kind of publicity. You’re wrong.
According to the YouGov website, which ranks the popularity and fame of politicians, celebrities, technology, business and just about anything you can think of, Kanye is the 123rd most popular musical artist, but he’s the 9th most famous. Fifty-two percent of people have a negative opinion of him. That’s not surprising, but what is a shocker is that twenty-three percent have a positive opinion.
That’s the same or more than his contemporaries. Only 21% have a positive opinion of Trey Songz. Only 18% like Lupe Fiasco. Only 14% like A$AP Rocky.
Who are they?
Compare him to Jay-Z – perhaps you’ve heard of Jay-Z? He’s only the 473rd most popular musical artist and the 39th most famous. Thirty-seven percent of people have a negative opinion of him and 32% have a positive opinion. He’s a little better liked – not a lot – and not nearly as famous. And he’s Beyonce’s husband!
Beyonce, by the way, slays everyone in these rankings because of course she does. And Beyonce and Jay-Z are some of the richest people on Earth.
So surely Kanye is broke, right?
Nope. According to Celebrity Net Worth, which released new numbers on Kanye this week, the 41-year-old is worth $250 million. And that’s just Kanye’s money, that’s not Kardashian money. How is that possible? Because Kanye does more than just rap. He’s also the producer of some of today’s most popular acts, a smart real estate investor and a fashion designer.
Yes, but those shoes. Nobody buys them, right?
Wrong. Adidas’ market cap has skyrocketed since Kanye released his first pair of Yeezys, from $15 billion in 2017 to its most recent measure of nearly $45 billion. Kanye alone can’t take credit for the leap, but he is definitely a material part of Adidas’ rebranding effort that increased American sales.
But this Trump thing. This in the nail in the coffin, right?
Wrong again. Remember, this is Kanye who said slavery was a choice. He stole Taylor Swift’s moment in the sun during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. He blurted out that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” during a live TV fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. For crying out loud, he was handcuffed, thrown into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation two years ago.
With each stunt, the media declared Kanye’s brand dead. And each time, they’ve been wrong. That’s because Kanye can get away with it. Crazy has always been a big part of his brand. It’s the same reason why a recent CNN poll revealed that nearly half of Americans believe Trump will win re-election in 2020, very close to the same numbers Obama had eight years ago.
How can that be? Because like Kanye, Trump has always been contemptible. There’s really nothing he can do to hurt his image. Heck, if he got impeached it would only make him the most famous president in history.
No wonder Trump and Kanye admire each other.
People don’t fall from grace because they do something offensive. They lose favor they’re exposed as a fraud, caught doing something that is the exact opposite of who they claim to be.
The lesson here is to be authentic. Authenticity trumps everything.
Like it or not, that truth supports Kanye’s claim that he really is smarter than all of us.