The Hamlet Complex: Kanye West


Hamlet v. Kanye

To be, or not to be v. I Thought About Killing You

       Kanye has faced by far his most controversial year, alongside the anticipation of his album release. The long wait was terminated on June 1 2018 with the release of his album Ye. The public expected the album to address the multiple controversial statements and actions committed by the artist himself, which was confirmed by even the album art indicating “I hate being bipolar it’s awesome”. The first song on the album stands as the most contentious track entitled, “I Thought About Killing You”. Many view this track as a firsthand look into the mind of a narcissist as he indicates that he considered killing ‘you’; however, he has also thought about killing himself, and he loves himself more than ‘you’. I argue that these sentiments are not to be taken at face value as it appears that Kanye utilizes this monologue to showcase his internal conflicts and lack of fear concerning controversial topics. Kanye uses this stream of consciousness to recognize his personal feelings toward life and death, rather than society’s conception. This man vs. self conflict presented in Kanye’s newest piece is highly reminiscent of the tumultuous Shakespearean plots. The free-flowing nature of Kanye’s monologue in the track appeares quite similar to Hamlet’s famous ‘To be, or not to be’ monologue. Both Kanye and Hamlet reason in an unmonitored manner, determining the value life, and in turn, arriving at their own conclusion. It appears that both these individuals oppose the norms of what performance art tolerates as they touch upon on their internal conflicts and mental health, which tend to be stigmatized. Despite being written hundreds of years apart, this connection between Hamlet and Kanye reveals that we all remain concerned with the meaning of life.

KANYE: I know, I know, I know, I know, know

I, I know it, I know it (I know, I know, I know, I know, know)

The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest

Today I seriously thought about killing you

I contemplated, premeditated murder

And I think about killing myself

And I love myself way more than I love you, so

Today I thought about killing you, premeditated murder

You'd only care enough to kill somebody you love

The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest


Just say it out loud to see how it feels

People say, "Don't say this, don't say that"

Just say out loud, just to see how it feels

Weigh all the options, nothing's off the table

Today I thought about killing you, premeditated murder

I think about killing myself, and I, I love myself way more than I love you

The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest


I think this is the part where I'm supposed to say something good

To compensate it so it doesn't come off bad

But sometimes I think really bad things

Really, really, really bad things

And I love myself way more than I love you

See, if I was trying to relate it to more people

I'd probably say I'm struggling with loving myself

Because that seems like a common theme

But that's not the case here

I love myself way more than I love you

And I think about killing myself

So, best believe, I thought about killing you today

Premeditated murder

HAMLET: To be, or not to be--that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--

No more--and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--

To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns

That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprise of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,

The fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins remembered.


Claudia MorganComment