It’s been a surreal month for Kanye West fans as the rapper repeatedly cannonballs into sensitive debates with headstrong opinions. West has stirred controversy in the run up to his upcoming album, LOVE EVERYONE, by voicing his support for Donald Trump while showing off his MAGA hat and saying slavery was a “choice” for black people in America.
Kanye To The, a forum that claims to be “biggest Kanye West community on the internet,” has been in turmoil over the past few weeks as fans attempt to make sense of the rapper’s headline-grabbing behavior. Thousands of members have taken to the discussion boards to engage in heated debate over West’s recent statements regarding politics and race.
With around 10,000 registered members who obsessively discuss news, leaks, and rumors about West and other big-time rappers, Kanye To The (KTT for short) was once deemed the second most influential hip hop message board on the internet by Complex. The forum also received attention from the press when members of the boy band Brockhampton said that they had first met and discussed forming a music group on KTT threads, and when a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the site in 2015 incited a bizarre feud with another, smaller forum called Yeezy Talk.
When West returned to Twitter in early April after a yearlong hiatus, commenters unanimously celebrated. The thread announcing his first tweets of 2018 received thousands of celebratory responses like “Yeezus just rose again” and “WELCOME BACK DAD.” This revelry soon turned into confusion and strife, however, when West complimented conservative commentator Candace Owens a few days later, and then began expressing his admiration for Trump.
There are now more than 700 threads, some of which have tens of thousands of replies, discussing West’s most recent endorsements of Trump. Some commenters have been swearing off the West fandom and others defending him as a “free thinker.” In the “Official Thread for Kanye’s MAGA Ordeal,” one user wrote, “Keep the music separate from the artist but if you’re on Kanye’s side with his love for Trump then I cannot **** with you on any level.” Another wrote, “When I first heard Yeezus I knew I would stick by that man forever. I don’t care if he married a Kardashian. I don’t care if he releases some ugly clothes. I don’t care if he loves Trump. If he loves Trump then I love him too.”
When West then made then slavery comments at the TMZ office on Tuesday, the forum seemed to implode. In one post titled “HOW DID YE RUIN EVERYTHING THAT FAST?” a user laments, “Every ****ing time people are ready to give a 2nd chance for the 100th time, he ****s it up. Dude sounded so sincere on the conversation with T.I. clearing up that he doesn’t agree with Trump policies and everything he said with Charlamagne. All the love and positivity from today will get overshadowed…”
KTT also appears to be the incubator of the conspiracy theory that West is actually engaging in an elaborate piece of performance art inspired by avant-garde comedian Andy Kaufman and conceptual artists David Hammons and Joseph Beuys. The theory postulates, in part, that West is attempting to subvert Trump’s MAGA hats in the same way that Hammons subverted racist symbols in his artwork, and that he is recreating a performance piece in which Beuys trapped himself in a room with a coyote for three days. Spencer Wolff, a radio host who popularized the theory in a Twitter thread that went viral this week, said he gathered much of the evidence from a KTT post.
There is now a wealth of threads on KTT discussing the theory and its manifold permutations, with people pointing out obscure symbols and references in tweets from West and his collaborators. A solid contingent of fans on the forum seem to be holding out hope that West will reveal that this was all a ruse with the release of his album in June. “He is performing an experiment And or testing his fan base and it’s tied to the album,” one user wrote in a much-quoted post. “I GUARANTEE ITS A SHOW THE TWIST COMING.”