Kanye West’s music made an appearance at the Super Bowl on Sunday when Rihanna—who has a reputation for being pro-Israel—sang “All of the Lights” during the halftime show. West (who goes by Ye) wrote and performed the original song, which also featured a prominent vocal performance by Rihanna.
Did the 34-year-old artist intend to endorse Ye’s recent, rabid antisemitism? Could she have possibly chosen the song merely for its artistic merit? Or was the performance of his song, without Ye on stage, a louder message about his absence? The Barbadian songtress, who has not issued any supportive statements about Ye since his recent meltdown, did not say.
Ye released the song in question in January 2011—the fourth single on his triple-platinum album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” which also featured the rapper Kid Cudi.
In a 2019 interview with David Letterman, Ye showed no camaraderie with the singer with whom he collaborated. He claimed Rihanna, a victim of domestic abuse, “must have done something to merit what happened to her.”
Lyrics in “All of the Lights” include references to sexual assault. “I slapped my girl, she called the feds/ I did that time and spent that bread,” read two lines. Another line seems particularly timely for the songwriter: “Did I not mention I was about to lose my mind?”
Since last October, Ye’s net worth has plummeted following a string of antisemitic and pro-Nazi media interviews, leading Adidas to end its partnership with the musician. That decision has cost the German shoe giant $1.3 billion in revenue.
In early October, just before the onset of his series of hateful remarks, Ye teased his possible involvement in Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance. Why Rihanna stuck with that set list is anyone’s guess for now, and it seems likely that Ye will be paid royalties for the performance of his song on such a large stage, seen live by well over 100 million people.
Rihanna’s performance led “Kanye West” to trend on social media, where he has been banned for tweeting an image of a swastika. Of his decision to ban Ye, Twitter owner Elon Musk said, “Posting swastikas in what is obviously not a good way is incitement to violence. I personally wanted to punch Kanye, so that was definitely inciting me to violence.”