If you've ever heard of Kanye West, you know at least one thing about him: the rapper/fashion designer is fond of saying jaw-dropping, record-scratch-worthy stuff. From famously calling out President George W. Bush to inexplicably, repeatedly defending President Donald Trump, the dude's known for controversy and baffling flip-flops. And so it goes that Kanye West's quotes about fatherhood follow the same pattern of "Wait, what now?" and "Hold up, didn't you once say...?" He's a puzzle. He's an enigma. He's impossible to predict. And he applies that same attitude when talking about his kids. But can we parse his true feelings from the lyrics and soundbites?
West has been very vocal about growing up in a single parent household with his mom, the late Donda West, a former college professor. One might assume that this upbringing would leave him with a strong sense of commitment to family, education, and equality, and in many interviews, he does espouse those values, but other times, ehhh... Not so much. Particularly in his rap lyrics, which is par for the course with much of the examples in that genre. Still, even when he's wearing his "IRL" hat, he sometimes says some pretty questionable things. Let's examine.
In 2011, well before 2-year-old Saint was even a glimmer in his eye, West collaborated with JAY-Z on the track "New Day," in which he muses on his future parenting philosophy (towards boys, anyway):
And I'll never let my son have an ego/He'll be nice to everyone, wherever we go/I mean I might even make him be Republican/So everybody know he love white people
Basically, West is saying that he doesn't want his kid to grow up to be like him, which is interesting, since he's now one of Trump's biggest cheerleaders. And then it gets even more contradictory:
And I'll never let him ever hit the telethon/I mean even if people dyin' and the world ends/See, I just want him to have an easy life
That would be a reference to the Hurricane Katrina relief special during which Kanye made himself a household name by proclaiming on live TV, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people." But here's the thing: it wasn't the telethon's fault that he uttered that lightning-rod bon mot (and honestly, it was one of his most charming moments, if you ask me). Turning a blind eye to disaster victims because you're afraid you might blurt out a reputation-altering comment is not something "nice," selfless people do.
And getting back to that white people line, here's what West said when asked on the live Q&A show "In Camera" if he identified as a feminist after welcoming his daughter, North, then 2 years old:
I think I'm a humanist. Is that a party? … This statement is going to sound kinda gay but I'm gonna say it. I love older white men. Basically if you're not an older white man, you don't run shit.
How many groups can you offend at once? If you're Kanye West, the sky's the limit, I guess. On to commercialism! That same year, West also wrote an essay for Paper magazine in which he pondered:
But how about we raise our kids in a truthful world, not a world based on brands and concepts of perception? Perception is not reality. When I look in North's eyes, I'm happy about every mistake I've ever made. I'm happy that I fought to bring some type of reality to this world we choose to stay in right now, driven by brands and corporations.
I'll remind you that his kids are growing up on reality TV, and he runs a fashion line, a record label, an athletic shoe line, and a cosmetics brand. He's also rumored to be dabbling in the the wine-making business and opening a restaurant, and last year, BuzzFeed published a list of 56 (!) other brands owned by the Kardashian-Jenner family. So.
As for raising daughters (because they weren't included in "New Day,") he covered that on the track "Violent Crimes" last June:
N*ggas is savage, n*ggas is monsters / N*ggas is pimps, n*ggas is players / 'Til n*ggas have daughters, now they precautious / Father forgive me, I'm scared of the karma / 'Cause now I see women as somethin' to nurture / Not somethin' to conquer
Ah, so he, like so many other men, finally learned that girls and women are human beings since he met one that he loved? Wonderful. Or it it? Later in the same song, he continues:
That's your baby, you love her to death / Now she cuttin' class and hangin' with friends / You break a glass and say it again / She can't comprehend the danger she's in / If you whip her *ss, she move in with him / Then he whip her *ss, you go through it again
And this is just the cherry on top: "I pray your body's draped more like mine and not like your mommy's," which I refuse to dissect further, because honestly, I don't even need to. And just to clarify things, last week on Jimmy Kimmel Live, West was asked point-blank if his "attitude towards women has changed since having daughters," to which he responded, "Nah, I still look at PornHub," with a big grin.
He also shared with Kimmel what was ostensibly supposed to be a heartwarming anecdote about sharing his love of fashion with North, but it quickly devolved into him talking about how it "brought me to tears" to think about how he built "this $1.8 billion company out of, you know, a thread," capped off by saying that he had an employee make a dress for his daughter. Touching. Kanye is Kanye, whether he's on the clock or off, I guess.