OPINION: 'Trolling' Kanye West isn't funny when he's suffering from mental health issues
"I used to want this thing forever, y'all can have it back."
Kanye West has divided opinion since he burst on the scene in 2004 with his debut album The College Dropout. The rap world didn't know if it was ready for a nerdy, backpack-wearing, Ralph Lauren-sporting nerd rapper talking about racism, faith, religion and a whole host of topics that were considered risqué for the world of hip-hop.
His song Jesus Walks criticised the music world's opinion of religion, and asked the question why is it so taboo to rap about God? "They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus. That means guns, sex, lies, video tape, but if I talk about God my record won't get played?"
The College Dropout was the type of album the rap world had not yet heard.
The lyrics were the perfect blend of braggadocio and self-awareness, and the music was top notch. People fell in love with Kanye for songs like 'All Falls Down', which featured lines such as, "It seems we livin' the American dream, the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem, the prettiest people do the ugliest things, for the road to riches and diamond rings."
That Kanye never returned.
Compare that to the opening line to 'Father Stretch My Hands' from his latest album: 'If I fuck this model, and she just bleached her asshole, and I get bleach on my t-shirt, then I'm gonna feel like an asshole.'
West changed. A lot of people think for the worse. While his music is still great, it is nowhere close to where it used to be. His attitude changed too. He went from being the underdog rapper, the college dropout, the guy you could relate to, to the rapper who wanted to autotune to a different note for absolutely every syllable on every single song. He cared more about his clothes than his music. To some, he seemed to stop trying. He just seemed so negative.
You can pinpoint this change to an exact moment: the death of his mother. Donda West died as a result of a complication during a plastic surgery operation that Kanye himself had paid for. A devastating, traumatic incident that could emotionally cripple even the most well-adjusted among us. West was no longer the happy-go-lucky kid that we all loved from The College Dropout. He was different. Colder. Distant.
We now had a man that was so convinced of his own genius that he was seen as a lunatic. His tweets became, being kind, more erratic.
Since then, it's been clear that Kanye has been suffering from mental health issues. This came to the eye of the public in its most brutal form. Just months after his wife was robbed at gunpoint in Paris, Kanye suffered a breakdown while performing, and soon after checked into the UCLA Medical Centre for treatment.
The Chicago rapper has avoided public appearances in 2017, but this week candid photos emerged of West taking a walk. He was flashing a rare smile, and looking a bit heavier than we are used to.
Sadly, some saw it as a chance to poke fun at the artist. Dublin radio station Spin 103.8 even saw fit to make a joke that 'Kanye West is pregnant.'
After all, how could he be depressed? He has millions of dollars! A beautiful wife! Everything you could ever want! But that's not how mental illness works. It destroys your happiness, no matter what you have. It destroys the lives of millions of people every year. It destroys the lives of thousands of Irish people every year. Something tells me Spin wouldn't be so quick to joke about the many Irish men battling mental illness — at least not to their faces.
If anything, there is a lesson to be learned from Kanye, with regards to mental health. He is as clear an example as any that depression isn't just "being sad". It changes you.
Kanye West is a controversial man. Kanye West is a genius. Kanye West has been a bit of an eejit. You are obviously entitled to your opinion about the man, but for God's sake, don't abuse him while he is clearly on the road to recovery from mental illness.
Punters can argue, as I'm sure they will, that these comments are just jokes. A bit of trolling (otherwise known as the most unfunny form of banter known to man).
But put yourself in the shoes of someone suffering from a mental illness. Someone who has spent time in hospital, backed away from public life, someone who has put on some weight finally feeling comfortable enough to leave the house again... Only to find the same old online abusers waiting for you, ready to mock your body and taint your recovery.
Welcome to the good life.