Life As One Of The Last People On Kanye West Island

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It's 9:30 AM.

I'm home. Drinking orange juice and watching Divergent. It's the fourth time I've seen it this week. I keep hoping it somehow gets better. I'm always wrong.


I open my blinds to let the morning sun in. The light breaks through. It's sudden and arrogant, as morning sunlight tends to be. I open the blinds completely, daring the sun to engulf me. It does. I don't care. "Fuck you" I say to the sun. In my head. Because swearing aloud at the sun would be insane.

And then I notice it. A "For Sale" across the street. This shouldn't bother me. This might be Kanye West Island, but this is still America. And Americans are allowed to sell their homes and move to other places. If you can't do that in America anymore, we might as well be in Iraq or France or something. But it bothers me. Because there are so damn many "For Sale" signs now. So damn many.

What was once a booming neighborhood —- the "hippest community in the country", according to some shitty magazine ten years ago — is now becoming an artifact. A memory. A ghost. A motherfucking fossil. I can't blame them too much for wanting out. It has not been an easy stretch. Ever since Kanye's mom passed, the living conditions and property values on Kanye West Island have fluctuated. No one seems to want to live on Kanye West Island anymore.

Most inhabitants moved here in 2004, when the property was still "fresh" and "new" and people had tired of the shenanigans on 50 Cent Island and Shitty Southern Music Island. Kanye West Island was a Godsend. An Island made specifically for them. I mean, where else would you find Louis Vuitton belts in Old Navy but on Kanye West Island? Nowhere, that's where.

As the years passed, Kanye West Island wasn't just the hippest place to be. It was the best. No Island was better. The food was great, all the women were Deltas with Master's degrees, and everyone believed in Jesus.

But then his mom died. And something in Kanye West changed. Which, eventually, changed what it meant to be on Kanye West Island. It still was the best place to live. But things were different. The stores got weird, selling clothes no one wears and food no one eats. The churches started to close. And White women just started appearing. Like, literally everywhere. You could not open an oven on Kanye West Island without a White woman popping out of it.


People first started leaving in 2010. Well, many of the original residents started leaving. It just wasn't as conspicuous at first, because as soon as they'd move out, someone new — usually someone related to Kid Cudi or working for Gawker or something — would move in.

As 2011 and then 2013 came, the exodus continued. But then, there weren't as many new residents. Just people leaving. Reluctantly and angrily — all saying they'd stay if things stayed the way they were in 2004 — but leaving.


And now, my block is littered with "Now Leasing" signs. The roads are filled with moving vans. U-Haul. Hertz. Budget. And some off-brand shit I can't remember. People can't get off Kanye West Island fast enough. Some are even moving to J. Cole Island. Which is cool, I guess. If you really like to sleep.

People — friends, family, former neighbors, etc — have asked why I've stayed. Why haven't I moved off Kanye West Island yet. And I don't really know what to tell them. Because the truth — I actually like 2015 Kanye more than I liked 2005 Kanye — never seems to satisfy them. They don't believe me. They think I'm still here because I'm scared to move. Or because I like being a contrarian. Or even just because there are no more 45-minute waits for brunches on Kanye West Island anymore. (Which, admittedly, I do enjoy. Because who wants to make reservations to eat some fucking eggs?)


And they think these things because they don't think it's possible for a person to love and enjoy College Dropout and love and enjoy Yeezus even more. Because, apparently, the type of person who'd loved College Dropout — and the type of person who'd be a fan of someone who created College Dropout — aint the type of person who'd love Yeezus.

But here I am on Kanye West Island, enjoying my orange juice and watching Divergent. It's a nice day, today. Maybe I'll go for a walk later.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



the Kanye pushback reminds me of the college football debate…theres always going to be that subset of people who feel like they would chop off their right foot to get that opportunity so they dont want to hear any arguments of the contrary.

Kanye is inarticulate and the flaw in that is that his message is routinely lost in his rhetoric, but when you look at what he's saying its just that he wants…more. Grammys for rap albums are cool but he wants to hoist the last trophy of the night for Album of the year, sure plenty rappers can make an urban clothing brand he wants to make fashion week, he's recognized as a musical genius but he wants to be looked at like Steve Jobs. Perhaps its too ambitious, perhaps it comes off as entitled for someone more successful that 99.9% of the world but that's just who he is.

*chills on Yeezus island*