A Brief Timeline of Kanye West’s Ploys for Attention

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It’s not news to anyone that Kanye West is one of the most egomaniacal, attention-hungry stars of our day. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that — in a lot of ways, it just comes with the territory, and it’s part of the Kanye package we all know and (to varying degrees) love. With the recent release of “Theraflu,” in which Kanye talks about his affection for his oft-rumored love interest Kim Kardashian, the critics are abuzz with questions — is this real, or yet another ploy for attention from two celebrities famous for their love of the spotlight? We’re not sure, but so we can all get a little perspective on the topic, we’ve put together a little retrospective of Kanye’s attention-grabbing antics for your reminiscing pleasure. Click through to see a very brief timeline, and let us know if we missed your favorite controversy in the comments.

September 2, 2005: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

In 2005, during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina on NBC, Kanye uttered the awkward accusation heard round the world while presenting with an increasingly confused-looking Mike Myers as he deviated from the script. After the infamous statement, the producers cut away to Chris Tucker, who had no idea what was happening. Later, on The Today Show, West apologized, saying, “I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration, I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist… I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that we as human beings don’t always choose the right words.” Actually, we do believe that in this situation, Kanye was speaking out of frustration — his impassioned, off-book speech just before the famous comment proves it — and several people have spoken out in support of him. However, we think he was also trying to shock the media into paying attention to him by saying the most controversial thing he could think of at the moment. Hey, it worked.

2008 — 2010: KANYE’S BLOG

Kanye blogs in all caps. That’s like blog-yelling. There’s not too much there now, but we’re hopeful for a return of the “I’M SOOOOO SORRY TO TAYLOR SWIFT AND HER FANS AND HER MOM” days. Instead, we think we’re going to have to satisfy ourselves with Twitter.

September 13, 2009: “I’ma let you finish…”

You all remember this one, if only because it sparked a million internet parodies. At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when Taylor Swift took the stage to accept her award for Best Female Video, Kanye jumped up and snatched the mic away from her, saying, “Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” Then he shrugged and handed her back the microphone. If it was really about Beyoncé, and not about Kanye’s inability to let anyone else have the spotlight for a single second, he probably would have felt mollified when later in the night, Beyoncé won Best Video of the Year.

October 5, 2010: “Runaway”

Kanye’s 35-minute epic music video, “Runaway,” in which he samples pretty much all of the songs on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is nothing but an incredibly expensive half an hour of Kanye saying “look at me, look at me!” As Adrien Chen wrote, the video “is like Kanye West wrote, directed and starred in a Kanye West-themed episode of Glee.” Actually, we’d like to see that.

February 23, 2011: “#STRAPUP”

Kanye stirred up a lot of controversy after he tweeted, “An abortion can cost a ballin’ n***a up to 50gs maybe a 100. Gold diggin’ bitches be getting pregnant on purpose. #STRAPUP my n***as!” Yikes. It’s like he’s just trying to make trouble.

August 7, 2011: “I’m Hilter”

During a performance at England’s Big Chill Festival, Kanye burst out, “I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m fucking insane, like I’m Hitler… One day the light will shine through and one day people will understand everything I ever did.” In the same show, he compared himself to Michael Jordan and gave a mini-tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, suggesting that her death was partially related to the pressures of fame, calling out, “For all the media, can you lighten up on all your artists that are still here?”

January 5, 2012: DONDA

We hope we’re wrong about this, and it turns out to be the most amazing company that’s ever been created, but doesn’t this sound just a little bit like another attention ploy to you? At the very beginning of the year, Kanye went on an epic Twitter rant to explain his newest endeavor, “a design company which will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there dreams and ideas… DONDA will be comprised of over 22 divisions with a goal to make products and experiences that people want and can afford…” and will employ “architects, graphic designers, directors musicians, producers, AnRs, writers, publicist, social media experts… app guys, managers, car designers, clothing designers, DJs, video game designers, publishers, tech guys, lawyers, bankers, nutritionist … doctors, scientist,teachers…” We’ll believe it when we see it.

April 4, 2012: “Theraflu”

Earlier this year, Amber Rose told the press that Kim Kardashian was a major part of her breakup with Kanye, calling her a “homewrecker” and claiming that Kardashian sent pictures of herself to Kanye while he and Rose were together. This week, he dropped “Theraflu,” in which he proclaims his love for the socialite: “And I’ll admit I fell in love with Kim/ Right around the same time she fell in love with him/ Well, that’s cool, baby girl do ya’ thing/ Lucky I ain’t have Jay drop him from the team!” After the song dropped, the two were immediately spotted hanging out together, causing pretty much everyone to speculate — actual relationship, or yet another Kanye West (and Kim Kardashian, natch) ploy for attention? Given his history, we’re putting our money on the latter.