Kanye West's Difficult 2016: A Timeline From 'Life of Pablo' to Kim Kardashian's Robbery to His Breakdown
By Alex Ungerman
"Name one genius that ain't crazy?"
That line, off the song "Feedback" from Kanye West's The Life of Pablo album, has become something of a rallying cry for ardent fans of the 39-year-old's music, who find themselves time and time again having to confront his antics -- from bizarre rants to controversial proclamations.
While he's certainly a lightning rod for both sides of the public opinion spectrum, "Yeezy being Yeezy" is something many have come to love about the larger-than-life star.
Still, it's hard for the support not to turn to concern when West's off-kilter antics give way to increasingly erratic behavior and onstage rants, the abrupt cancellation of more than 20 Saint Pablo tour dates, and ultimately, his hospitalization -- as the LAPD confirmed to ET on Monday.
"The guy just needs some rest. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion," a source close to West tells ET.
The troubling news follows a year that has at times been difficult for West, from his re-falling out and very public drama with Taylor Swift, to the rapper's wife, Kim Kardashian West, taking time away from public life to recover after being robbed at gunpoint in Paris last month.
"It was a combination of a lot of issues: stress, anxiety, paranoia. He just broke," a separate source close to the family tells ET of why West came apart. "There have been signs recently of him just overwhelmed. He has a lot going on: multiple fashion lines, the tour, his business, being a father. And then the Paris incident also threw him for a big loop. His mother passed away this time of year. So, there is a lot going on right now. Kanye hasn't been himself for a while."
And as we give West the time he needs to rest and recuperate, we have to reflect on the non-stop 2016 -- from the album rollout, to the fashion shows, to the tour and everything in between -- that preceded the breakdown.
Jan. 26: West Changes His Album Title (for the Second Time)
After a year that already saw the rapper's much-hyped seventh studio album go from being dubbed So Help Me God to SWISH, West changes his mind again, announcing on Twitter, "New album title, WAVES."
This begins the absolutely bonkers rollout for what will become The Life of Pablo.
Jan. 27: West Goes on Tweetstorm Against Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose (and Rose Claps Back)
After Khalifa criticizes West's new album title on Twitter, West goes on a 17-point Twitter rant that both calls out the "Black and Yellow" rapper's music, and includes such gems as, "I think you dress cool I wish I was skinny and tall."
During the tweetstorm, West also disses their mutual ex, Rose, writing Khalifa "let a stripper trap you."
Rose then gets in on the drama by firing off the NSFW clap-back of the century, "Awww @kanyewest are u mad I'm not around to play in ur a**hole anymore? #FingersInTheBootyA**B***h☝."
West denies the accusation about his sexual proclivities and eventually takes down his tweets.
Feb. 2: Kim Kardashian Poses With Rose, West and Khalifa End the Beef
Interestingly enough, while the title remains the same, the final final track list will prove to be once again revised.
Feb. 11: West Debuts 'The Life of Pablo' at Yeezy Season 3, the Taylor Swift Drama Reignites.
West and his Kardashian family gather at NYC's Madison Square Garden for the fashion show/album release event, where Tidal live-streams the rapper debuting his new record from beginning to end.
Kid Cudi, who collaborated with West on the album, joins him onstage to celebrate the occasion.
As fans listen to the record, the track "Famous" includes the highly controversial line, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, why, I made that b**ch famous," in reference to their very infamous 2009 Video Music Awards moment.
After the superstar songwriters spent the bulk of 2015's awards shows making up and becoming BFFs, the drama is reignited, far stronger than it ever was before.
So much for the flowers...
Feb. 14: The Life of Pablo Drops, Features Lyrics About Mental Health and Paranoia
After the release is delayed yet again, over Chance the Rapper apparently trying to get the song "Waves" back on the album, TLOP finally hits Tidal.
A closer examination of West's work shows a side of the rapper more creatively experimental than ever before, and also more conflicted.
"You ain't never seen nothing crazier than this n***a when he off his Lexapro," West raps on the track "FML,' referring to an antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorders and anxiety.
"They wish I would go ahead and f**k my life up, can't let them get to me," the Weeknd moans on the hook of the track, suggesting a dark undertone to West's grandiose persona. The chorus then gives way to the vulnerable admission, "And even though I always f**k my life up, only I can mention me."
The album also features references to seeing a psychiatrist on "No More Parties in L.A.," as well as distrust and paranoia, when, on "Wolves," the rapper suggests that he and his wife are "surrounded by the f**kin' wolves."
TLOP is critically acclaimed, but disjointed, and the rapper will make several more edits in the coming weeks, revising the work already on streaming sites, which in and of itself, is widely discussed as an innovation in album creation.
Feb. 15: Swift Slams West at the GRAMMYs
"I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments and your fame," she pointedly says during her Album of the Year acceptance speech, plainly referring to West's "Famous" lyrics. "But if you just focus on the work and you don't let those people sidetrack you, some day when you get where you're going, you'll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world."
The call-out clearly doesn't go over well with West, who is recorded having a meltdown behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live, calling Swift a "fake a**," and later during a club appearance, saying, "She not cool no more. She had two seconds to be cool and she f**ked it up."
Feb. 26: West's Family Supports Him Through the Criticism
West escalates the now-"Famous" feud by dropping a highly controversial video of the song -- which the rapper himself admits could get him in trouble -- that features West in bed with lifelike, and completely naked, wax figures of celebs including Kim, Rihanna, Caitlyn Jenner, Donald Trump and... Swift.
July 2016: Kim Defends West Against Swift
The reality star tells GQ that Swift "totally approved" the "Famous" lyric, alleging that there was even a recorded phone call to prove it -- something Swift's publicist at the time vehemently denies.
"Kim Kardashian's claim that Taylor and her team were aware of being recorded is not true," the publicist said in a statement, "and Taylor cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, will not just leave her alone."
July 17: Kim's Snapchat Story...
Kim shares the fabled phone call between the two artists, where Swift seems to approve at least part of West's "Famous" lyric.
"Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that b**ch' in his song? It doesn't exist because it never happened," Swift says in an open letter on her Instagram. "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009."
However, just days later, West does a 180, saying onstage, "I just wanted to take this time out to say Kid Cudi is my brother and I hope he's doing well," while calling his friend "the most influential artist of the last 10 years."
It should be noted that shortly after the Twitter feud, Cudi checked himself into rehab after candidly admitting his struggles with depression and suicidal urges.
Oct. 2: Kim Robbed at Gunpoint in Paris
West abruptly ends a show mid-song in Queens, New York, shortly before news breaks that masked gunman had tied up his wife at gunpoint at her hotel in Paris, robbing her of over $10 million in jewelry.
What follows is a fundamental shift in how Kim conducts herself, as the reality star cancels her public appearances and steps back from social media to recover from the harrowing incident.
West also reschedules a number of shows to be with his family, though the rapper shortly thereafter resumes his tour, adding over 20 dates in the process.
Oct. 19: West Calls Out Jay Z
West's up-and-down relationship with former mentor Jay Z goes back far beyond this album cycle, but tension arises between the two artists again when West goes on a rant at a show in Seattle, Washington.
"There will never be a Watch the Throne 2," West proclaims in the NSFW rant, referring to his and Jay Z's 2011 collaborative album. "That’s the reason I wasn’t on this song, I wasn’t on the song 'cause of Hov. 'Cause of some TIDAL/Apple bulls**t. And that s**t be getting me tight every time I perform this motherf**ker."
West then accuses his labelmate of not being there for him after Kim's robbery.
"Don't call me, after the robbery, and say 'How you feelin'?' You wanna know how I'm feeling? Come by the house," West can be heard saying in another Twitter video from the concert. "Bring the kids by the house, like we're brothers."
Nov. 18: West Says He Would Have Voted Trump
While the rapper's outlandish rants are generally supported by his fans, West begins earning boos during his San Jose, California, show, when he says that despite his campaign contributions to the contrary, Donald Trump would have earned his vote.
“I told y’all I didn’t vote, right? But if I were to vote, I would have voted on Trump,” he tells the crowd. “That doesn’t mean that you’re a Trump supporter. That just means you OK with a celebrity having their own opinion. Or that someone else is OK to have their own opinion. That might not be your opinion but you can still like that person or still like that person’s music.”
Nov. 20: West Abruptly Leaves His Show After Most Bizarre Rant Yet, Cancels Tour.
West's behavior turns from controversial to possibly worrisome, after he abruptly ends his Sacramento show, following a 17-minute rant, both praising Trump and calling out Jay Z and Beyonce, pleading with the former, "Jay Z, I know you got killers, please don't send them at my head. Just call me. Talk to me like a man."
West then shares 99 unexplained bizarre fashion photos on his Instagram, before canceling his Los Angeles makeup show, and subsequently the remaining dates on his Saint Pablo Tour.
Nov. 21: Hospitalization, Kim Cancels Her First Public Appearance Since Robbery
West was hospitalized over concerns for "his own health and safety," though the rapper was "medically stable," the LAPD tells ET.
After the hospitalization, Kim cancels her first scheduled appearance at the Angel Ball in NYC -- which was to honor her late father, Robert Kardashian -- to return to her husband's side.