Three name changes, numerous delays and countless Twitter rants later, Kanye West’s new album has finally dropped. But instead of trying to decide whether the The Life of Pablo is as good as he would have us believe, we’re going to review something else: Kanye’s use of social media.
Kanye might be "50 per cent more influential than any other human being" (his opinion), but his significant talent as a producer and rapper has often been eclipsed by his significantly larger ego and a detailed history of bizarre award show controversies. On Twitter he’s always been just as ridiculous, but for the most part his tweets were harmless musings on water bottles, cherub rugs and fur pillows.
But something has changed. Kanye’s tweets have taken a sharp turn from egotistical and humorous to narcissistic and controversial. Low points include his rapid-fire tirade at Wiz Khalifa which spanned 30 (now deleted) tweets, his recent proclamation of Bill Cosby’s innocence and a sincere cap-in-hand request for Mark Zuckerberg to give him one billion dollars.
I'm practicing my Grammy Speech. I'm not going to the Grammys unless they promise me the Album of the Year!!!
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 15, 2016
This is not album of the year. This is album of the life. — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 26, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg invest 1 billion dollars into Kanye West ideas — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 14, 2016
after realizing he is the greatest living artist and greatest artist of all time. — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 14, 2016
BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 9, 2016
Are these the tweets of a tortured genius/artist/megalomaniac or simply those of a troll with an album to promote? It’s impossible to tell, but this much is clear: at the moment Yeezy’s about three Twitter rants away from induction to the pantheon of 'Worst Celebrity Meltdowns'.
It would be ridiculous to suggest that Kanye should water down his personality in any major way, as the world would be a duller place without his particular brand of eccentricity. And authenticity is key to success on Twitter, after all. But someone needs to tell him to rein it in. Here are a few general tips for winning back credibility after a series of social media missteps.
Think before you tweet
Mad about something? Before you let those trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers (thanks Drake), give yourself five minutes to calm down. Ask yourself, "Am I overreacting? Is this tweet intended to hurt, offend or humiliate? Am I probably going to delete this later?" If the answer to any of these questions is "yes", this next tip is for you...
Seek a second opinion
Before launching that all-caps missile, show it to a neutral party for an honest opinion. In Kanye’s case, he should run potentially risky tweets past PR queen Kim Kardashian. Aside from having the joy of being wedded to Yeezus, Kim qualifies for the job for a few reasons. She knows how to market narcissism without being too offensive (see: Selfie, an entire book of selfies by Kim Kardashian) and she’s great at damage control (see: selfie of Kim Kardashian with Amber Rose post-Twitter beef). Most importantly, she seems to understand the great power of tightly-controlled image-management (see: journey from sex tape to the cover of Vogue).
If someone takes a shot at you on Twitter, it’s perfectly reasonable that you might like to defend yourself with a tweet or two in response. Especially if you’re a rapper. Rappers diss each other all the time. But some topics, like children, partners and ex-partners, should remain strictly off-limits.
Know where to draw the line
There is only so much people can forgive. While your audience might love your random musings and put up with your grandiose declarations of greatness, tweeting your support of a man accused of some pretty horrendous things is more problematic.
Let it go
Let’s say you made your ex-girlfriend really mad and in response she called you a #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch in a perfectly composed burn which received more than 300,000 retweets. The least cool thing you can do is respond with a desperate retaliation that sounds A) like a lie and B) borderline homophobic. Sometimes it’s best to just let things go, especially when you kind of had it coming.
Less is more
If you have something to say, no matter how controversial it is, try to distill it into one or two tweets. Don’t let your interior monologue take the wheel, because that guy is going to crash your car. While we’re at it: try to treat capital letters, exclamation marks and ellipses as an exhaustible resource.
Be yourself, kind of
Anyone who tells you to be someone else on Twitter is probably a jerk. You’re allowed to have a personality that isn’t to everyone’s taste. But do try and be the version of yourself that doesn’t give your detractors a reason to be really smug and leave your fans wondering if they were wrong about you after all.
Basically, we want this Kanye back
not smiling makes me smile — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) October 11, 2014
Please: Do everything you possibly can in one lifetime. — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) September 23, 2015
Stephanie Ryan is a senior writer at We Are Social