Wednesday afternoon, Kanye West went Peak Kanye with his hourlong rant of consciousness directed at Wiz Khalifa, where he insulted Khalifa’s music and his status as a rapper while also giving Khalifa what seemed to be genuinely sincere compliments. Kanye West is a weird duck.
Unfortunately, Kanye didn’t stop there, as he felt the need to comment on Khalifa’s ex-wife—Amber Rose, a woman who happens to be Kanye’s ex-girlfriend—and the child she and Khalifa have together. These comments turned what had been an entertaining (and remarkably one-sided) feud into a disturbing and disgusting one. But it wasn’t terribly surprising. Because anyone who has paid any attention to Kanye over the last couple of years is aware that he doesn’t seem to miss opportunities to hurl insults at his ex, particularly about her past as a stripper and how “dirty” he believes her to be. In fact, he doesn’t just “not miss” opportunities to insult her. He creates them. Conjures them out of thin air.
But what Kanye might not realize is that the only thing these comments prove is that she’s clearly still on his mind. And when a person is still thinking so much about an ex five years after a breakup that he brings the ex’s name up in unrelated conversations, this qualifies as an obsession. Kanye West is obsessed with Amber Rose. The only question left is why. I’m not Kanye West, so I can’t answer that question. But I do have some theories. Here are my four favorite:
1. He’s still in love.
Kanye has repeatedly alluded to how he approaches his artistic endeavors the same way a kid would. He did it most famously in a New York Times interview in 2014. And his most recent single (“No More Parties in L.A.”) features a line in which he refers to himself as a “38-year-old 8-year-old.”
Perhaps he thinks of romance and love and his feelings in the same way. Because if an 8-year-old boy has a crush on one of his classmates, he’s probably not going to walk over to her, calmly, confidently and humbly, and ask for her Snapchat screen name and Netflix password. He’s more likely to tease her. Or pull her hair. Or make sure not to pick her for his team for dodgeball at recess. Or push one of his friends if he or she says, “Kanye has a crush on Amber.” Because most 8-year-old boys don’t have the emotional capacity to understand and assess those types of feelings, so instead of acknowledging and accepting them, they attempt (and usually fail) to rebel against them.
Perhaps his tendency to speak badly of Amber every chance he gets is the emotionally stunted 38-year-old’s equivalent of throwing spitballs at the girl he really, really, really likes.
2. He just can’t handle that Amber Rose has continued to make a name for herself.
Perhaps Kanye assumed that, after their breakup, she’d fade into obscurity, existing only as a footnote on Kanye’s Wikipedia page. This obviously hasn’t happened. She has remained in the spotlight, establishing herself as a relevant pop-culture presence. Today, while more people know who Kanye West is, most of the people who also know who she is like her more. In large part because she seems to possess two qualities that the 2016 Kanye West seems not to: the ability to be self-aware and likable. And maybe Kanye resents that a woman he “made” seems to be thought of more favorably than he is.
Myles Brown summarized this in a tweet Wednesday afternoon:
3. Kanye is just a terrible ex.
I think it was an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry (or George) said something about how being a bad ex is worse than being a bad mate. Or maybe it was Bill from Kill Bill who said that. I don’t know. Either way, I remember seeing something on TV at some point in time where the characters spoke of how bad it is to be a bad ex. And perhaps Kanye is just an embodiment of that theory.
We don’t really have much evidence besides his relationship with Amber to back up this theory, but something interesting did happen soon after Amber Rose’s tweet about Kanye’s bedroom practices published. Alexis Phifer, who was Kanye’s fiancee before his relationship with Amber Rose, tweeted that her mouth was zipped shut.
On the surface, Phifer’s tweet seems like an innocuous and funny way of saying, “Don’t ask me. I don’t know nothin’.” But I don’t know. It reads to me more like a co-sign of what Amber Rose said Kanye enjoys doing (NTTAWWT). Kinda like if person A says, “Yo, I heard Damon stinks,” and then person B says, “Man, don’t ask me anything about Damon stinking. Because I don’t have any answers for you. At all.” You wouldn’t think person B has no answers. You’d think person B, by being so demonstrative with the nonanswer, was attempting to signal, “Yes, I can confirm that Damon does, in fact, stink.”
Anyway, the fact that she’d be compelled to jump in there then suggests that she doesn’t have the best opinion of Kanye, either. Maybe he’s just one of those guys who have terrible relationships with each of their exes. And since Amber happens to be the most public one, she receives the brunt of his ex-related antagonism.
4. Kim Kardashian is insecure about Amber Rose.
It is not difficult to imagine Kim Kardashian feeling a certain way about her husband’s beautiful and curvy and witty and sexy and popular ex-girlfriend. Because this happens all the time. And not just with women. Men do it just as frequently. It’s human nature to compare yourself with your significant other’s exes. Sometimes it’s done out of sheer curiosity. Sometimes it’s done to assure yourself that your mate upgraded. And sometimes it’s done because you might not believe you measure up, and that’s when the insecurity hits.
Maybe Kanye senses this and frequently insults Amber as a way of assuring Kim that Kim is “better.”
Of course, each of these theories could be true concurrently. In fact, I suspect they are. He could still be in love, he could resent Amber’s popularity, he could be a s—tty ex and he could be addressing his wife’s insecurity all at the same time.
Either way, it’s a great time to buy land on Kanye West Island. Because the property values have never been lower.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.