Words by: Stephanie Booth
From ‘Love Lockdown’ to actual lockdown, Twitter rants to Trump sycophants; the K’s have run the gauntlet of woes, rows and alleged hoes. Are we now witnessing the greatest love tragedy of our time or the greatest marketing move since Onlyfans tried to remove sexual content from their platform? When it comes down to it, will Ye or won’t Ye?
There’s no denying that Kanye West (Ye) is the king of chaos, and neither Kimberly Kadashian-West (KKW) nor Ye, are novices when it comes to making and breaking headlines. So should the news of their separation be taken seriously or are we all just pawns in a parlour game for Ye’s 10th album or KK-dub’s latest lip-liner lineup?
On the topic of pawns, let’s take a look at the timeline of how these two juggernauts came into our lives. There aren’t many people that could say (with honesty) that they have ‘never heard of them’. Be it as simple-minded as ‘that woman who got famous from a sex tape’ or ‘that rapper who had a mental breakdown and supports Trump’.
Kim’s most unfortunate, but sadly most famous, on-screen endeavour was her sextape with ‘rapper’ (and I use the term loosely) Ray J. Can’t place him? He’s Brandi’s brother. You may remember him from one of two things: said sex tape or his slightly better performance in the 2001 low-key R&B banger slash Phil Collins re-mix ‘Another Day In Day in Paradise’.
KKW and Ye allegedly met via mutual friends of Brandi – with whom Ye was making a track with at the time. Brandi being, of course, the more famous sibling of Ray J who would later go on to star as the other half of KKW’s sex tape — you know, the party that recieved little-to-no criticism for participating in something that was ostensibly his idea? That one..
At this time, Ye was connected with Alexis Phifer and KKW with Ray J, so it wasn’t until 2011/12 that they finally met up in a capacity where they could ‘come out’ as more than acquaintances.
Fast forward to 2013 when Ye then rented the entire AT&T stadium in San Francisco to profess his love in a subtle manner, proposing to Kim, in an act that would later be broadcast to the world.
A decadent wedding in Italy followed in 2014, with an ‘intimate’ rehearsal dinner with 600 friends in Versailles, featuring performances by Lana Del Ray and a ceremony set on the cliff tops of Florence. Kim wore a Givenchy haute couture dress designed by Riccardo Tisci, and Ye allegedly oversaw every detail of the ordeal. It wasn’t the last time KKW would don bridal couture, as her recent appearance in a Balenciaga wedding gown during the listening party for Ye’s 10th album Donda sparked reports of a reunion.
Following their decadent nuptials, the Wests continued to add to their dynasty, welcoming Saint (2015), Chicago (2018 — via surrogate) and Psalm ( 2019 — via surrogate, again, due to significant health risks after KKW’s first two births).
With undeniably the most gorgeous quartet of absurdly-monikered minions, surely this dynamic duo were in heaven. But as one of the only redeeming tracks on Ye’s latest offering suggested, it was more of a ‘Heaven and Hell’ scenario.
A couple of public dates and a couple of kids later, their relationship took us in all directions (North, West, whatever). This marriage (which was not a first for Kim who has already been married twice before) brought together two powerhouses: rap royalty and reality-show regality. A match made in heaven.
While Ye largely stayed out of the KUWTK spotlight, his presence and antics did not go unnoticed. With experimental albums, dabbling in religion and church and visits to The White House (coupled with terrifying threats to insert himself into the political gambit), he remained an unspoken presence within the Kardashian-Jenner household.
Cracks became apparent when Ye started name dropping KKW in his songs and continued to reference her throughout his years of discography:
“Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates/Just play piano and stick to karate/I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s.” – ‘Violent Crimes’ (Ye, 2018)
“Single life ain’t so bad” – ‘Jail’ (Donda, 2021)
Cracks started to emerge long before KKW’s truly harrowing Paris robbery incident (2016) where she was held at gunpoint, tied up and robbed by five men dressed as security guards.
Not long after this — KKW took a break from social media as Ye was temporarily institutionalised to address underlying mental health conditions, with suggestions of ‘psychosis’. Ye has since confirmed he suffers from Bipolar disorder.
A reunited front came in the shape of renewed vows in 2019 as KKW and Ye said ‘I still do’ in a surprise ceremony at their fifth wedding anniversary, suggesting things were still looking up for the couple.
*2020 enters Stage Left*
Always keeping arms length from the camera, Ye was a rare sighting on the family’s substantive franchise, instead focusing on keeping his antics Kontrolled on Twitter and on a wider, more performative scale (see: Donda listening parties one through three).
KKW is a businessperson, entrepreneur, mother and most-recently, a genuinely serious law student (‘what, like it’s hard?’). She appears to be following in the footsteps of her late father, Robert Kardashian, famously the primary defence attorney for close family friend and American footballer, O.J Simpson case, a close family friend, one that divided the Kardashian family network and ultimately led to the demise of their marriage. Consider the insult to injury when he was portrayed in a made-for-tv serial by David Schwimmer. Have they not suffered enough?
Often dismissed as the ‘failed pornstar and a mentally-ill rapper’, it’s vital we remember, now more than ever (to coin a governmentally-favoured phrase), that they are humans.They chose to put themselves in the public eye — it’s how they conduct their business, sold records, sold makeup, clothes, ideas. Should they do it behind closed doors? Under a mask? A guise? Nom de plume? Would that make them more credible? What they have chosen to show you, or what you have dug out – is to both to the benefit of and detriment of their personal lives and personal brands.