Should we be supporting the work of controversial artists?


Photo Credit: Photo via Flickr under Creative Commons License

Pictured is rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, performing in 2011. This was two years after Ye interrupted Taylor Swift’s 2009 Video Music Awards speech.

By: Dylan DaCunha, Editor-in-Chief

Day after day we see beloved artists become controversial because of their actions. Does this mean we should stop listening to their work?

Controversy in the music industry

With an influx of daily news on rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, society is finding out vile information about his personal beliefs. The rapper went to Twitter to make antisemitic remarks, then praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on Alex Jones’ Infowars Show. This is not the first time Ye has acted out in such a way, as he has proven to be mentally unstable for years. The rapper claims he has Bipolar disorder and as of last night, he may be “slightly autistic.”

However, given all of this, Ye is one of the most successful rappers of the 2000s and 2010s. The rapper has won countless awards including 23 Grammys and 19 Billboard Music awards. His work often covers topics such as social injustice, love, and fame which many find appealing.

This is just one recent example of a controversial celebrity who has proven themself to be a talented artist in the past. Many are canceling Ye for his recent public actions, but this doesn’t take away from the credibility of his music.

Isabelle Miller is a member of the Colonia High School Choir. She believes, “Artists are responsible for what they produce, so their personal opinions and statements should not influence the quality of their music or whether people listen.”

Other popular yet controversial artists

An argument that could be made is that many musical talents that society still supports have acted controversially. Elvis Presley received much positive attention after the hit film Elvis in 2022. However, the singer allegedly raped his former wife Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, which Priscilla wrote about in her book Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley. 

Motley Crue bass guitarist Nikki Sixx admitted he ‘pretty much’ raped a woman in the band’s 2001 memoir The Dirt. However, he later commented that he possibly made the story up or embellished it. Regardless of this, Motley Crue still has seven million monthly users on the music-listening app Spotify.

The popular alt-rock band of the 1990s the Red Hot Chili Peppers has various allegations against several band members. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis admits to having multiple sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl while being 24 in his 2004 autobiography Scar Tissue.  An article from the early 90s details an instance when drummer Chad Smith assaulted a woman. Smith pulled a woman’s bathing suit bottom partially off and smacked her buttocks. After, he demanded she perform oral sex on him. This isn’t even half of the horrible things the members of Sublime have done. However, the band still has 25.4 monthly listeners on Spotify showing their popularity.

If this many, and countless other, artists are controversial then should we listen to their music? Joseph Paladino, a member of the Colonia High School Theatre, believes that we should “separate the art from the person, but don’t forget who the person is.” It’s okay to still listen to the music of these artists because their talent isn’t being disputed; Their morals and persona outside of the recording studio are.