Ye or nay?

Julia Ludden, Reporter

Picture this: You are in your car and a Chris Brown song starts playing. At first you are just happily listening until you suddenly remember who Brown is. He was not only found guilty of assaulting Rihanna during their relationship, but has numerous more assault allegations against him as well. 

Do you turn the song off? Do you let it continue? In other words, should an artist and their work be separated?  

The question of art standing alone from its artist raises different opinions and it is being heavily debated in the media, recently regarding Kanye “Ye” West’s anti-semitic behavior. Fans of West are plagued with the question of whether to support him or not. 

Since without the artist there would be no art, they can’t be separated. Art is unique to its creator. Take West, whose  mental health has been a constant theme in his music, along with his own controversial viewpoints on race and religion. Similarly, Brown will forever be an R&B artist, as well as the abusive ex of Riri. Since he is both of these things, ceasing to support him as a person should result in not listening to his music. Even after not actively supporting one’s art, its talent can still be respected, which leads back to many famous examples. 

Pablo Picasso, one of the most celebrated artists in history, was an alleged raging misogynist. He was characterized as a womanizer, and his own granddaughter has spoken out about how horrible of a husband he was. Mariana Picasso reflects on Picasso’s relationships with women in her book “Picasso: My Grandfather.” She writes that “after he had spent many nights extracting their essence, once they were bled dry, he would dispose of them.” How pleasant. 

Fortunately for Picasso, he’s dead, and never really faced consequences for his mistreatment of women. It is still socially acceptable to appreciate Picasso’s work, and he is a respected name. I highly doubt his paintings are going to be removed from museums anytime soon. To give credit where credit is due, his work was undoubtedly revolutionary and innovative. He helped invent the concept of Modernism, and pioneered new art styles like Cubism. What a shame he was abusive to all of his muses. You won’t catch me drooling over “The Weeping Woman”anytime soon. 

Michael Jackson is another controversial name. He was originally arrested and charged with child molestation. A 14-week trial was held, where he was eventually found not guilty. The allegations against him alone are enough to show that he was a questionable person, and the fact that he named his ranch “Neverland” after a fictional island surrounding the idea of eternal youth rubs me the wrong way. He is definitely not my top choice for a musician to “stan.” This being said, Jackson was a talented musician and is inevitably always going to be part of music history. His music practically brought about a multicultural era of music and encouraged integration. 

Ye has had many past scandals, like his highly offensive statement about slavery saying it “sounds like a choice,” in a 2018 interview. More recently he is under fire for promoting white supremacy ideologies and his anti-semitic comments. Since West is still alive, listening to his new music and encouraging his brand could directly benefit him by enabling him to continue with these unacceptable actions. Although he may be a walking mental health crisis, West’s offensive behavior can not be shrugged off–and I loved “Graduation” as much as the next person. 

I actively choose not to support Kanye anymore, and will not listen to his music, but I still acknowledge what he added to the music industry. Throughout his musical career, he has been praised for his use of sampling, autotune, and transforming the sound of hip-hop. As much creative power West has, his delusion comes along with this.  

Each individual artist’s personality, mind, and unique life situations are what inspire them to create their art. You have to talk about one when you talk about the other. Discussing an artist’s behavior requires recognition of the art they create. Artist and art can’t be separated; they are too intertwined. Yet, the decision to not support an artist can happen simultaneously with acknowledging what their art has to offer. “Heartless” will always be a banger, but you won’t be catching me supporting Kanye’s new songs.