Even in hip-hop, where megalomania can be an important way of doing business, Kanye West comes across, um, a little boastful. He refers to himself as “the greatest of all time,” takes over awards shows without worrying about the artists he’s upstaging, compares himself to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and the pope and verbally and physically attacks colleagues and paparazzi. Of his upcoming “T.L.O.P.” — out Friday — he tweets, “This is not album of the year. This is album of the life.” But maybe he’s right. The guy who made “Jesus Walks,” “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” and “Touch the Sky” has a better chance of achieving the album of the life than any of the artists he feuds with.
Still, the man has a knack of making plenty of nonmusical headlines. Here’s a list of West’s 15 most outrageous moments:
June 8, 1977: Day One
Born in Douglasville, Georgia. His first name, in Swahili, means “the only one.” So blame his parents.
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November 2004: American Music Awards
West begins his string of retributions against awards-show snubs by walking out of the AMAs after country singer Gretchen Wilson beat him out for best new artist. “I was the best new artist this year,” he was overheard saying.
July 2005: Live 8
While performing at Live 8 in Philadelphia, West aired the heavily discredited conspiracy theory that governments created AIDS and spread it in Africa to oppress black people.
August 2005: Press interview
Before a crew of music reporters listening to playback of his new album “Late Registration,” West declared: “I’m the closest that hip-hop is getting to God. In some situations I’m like a ghetto pope.”
September 2005: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”
West was supposed to deliver soothing words about Hurricane Katrina victims on a live TV fundraiser; instead, to the annoyance of co-presenter Mike Myers, he ad-libbed about how black New Orleanians were portrayed as looters and whites as “looking for food.”
June 2008: Bonnaroo
West arrived onstage at 4:30 a.m., almost two hours late, prompting steel-guitar hero Robert Randolph to start a “Kanye Sucks!” chant onstage the next day. Later, West took to his blog: “WE WERE OBVIOUSLY DEALING WITH [expletive] IDIOTS WHO DIDN’T REALLY HAVE THE CAPACITY TO REALLY PUT ON THIS SHOW PROPERLY.” To reinforce his point, he referred to the promoters as “squid brains.”
July 2009: Designed Louis Vuitton sneaker and changed his name
Retail price $800-$1,140. Said his new name was Martin Louis the King Jr. Didn’t stick.
September 2009: Taylor Swift and MTV’s Video Music Awards
While Swift was accepting her trophy for “You Belong With Me,” West charged the stage and seized the stunned country star’s microphone. “Imma let you finish,” he declared, in words that launched a billion memes, “but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”
April 2012: A beautiful relationship begins
West and reality-star extraordinaire Kim Kardashian began dating at a New York City restaurant, or so it is said after onlookers spotted them hand in hand. West then redirected his powers of hyperbole from himself to his future wife: “It’s an unfair level of awesomeness in one person to be that smart, to be that nice, to be . . . blatantly fine as hell. Like, one of the most beautiful people of all time,” he told Ryan Seacrest.
November 2013: “Bound 2” video
Kimye released a bizarrely naked motorcycle-make-out video a year later, with surreal green-screen mountain backdrops. Six months later, they were married.
June 2013: The New York Times interview
In which West compared himself to Jay Z, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes and others: “I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump.”
July 2013: Assaults paparazzo
The rapper attacked photographer Daniel Ramos outside Los Angeles’ LAX. Ramos sued. West settled. He also received a sentence of probation, community service and anger-management classes.
February 2015: Swift-boats Beck
At the Grammy Awards ceremony, Beck’s “Morning Phase” beat out Beyoncé, prompting West to crash the stage again, and rip the voters afterward for being “disrespectful to innovation.” Beck, speaking for West fans everywhere, turned the other cheek: “How many great records has he put out in the last five years, right? . . . You can’t please everybody, man. I still love him and think he’s genius. I aspire to do what he does.”
August 2015: Presidential bid
During the VMAs, Swift presented West the Video Vanguard Award, after which he rambled for eight minutes, then declared himself a 2020 presidential candidate.
January 2016: Epic Twitter feud with Wiz Khalifa
West viewed Khalifa’s Twitter and interpreted “KK” to be about his wife. (It’s actually about the rapper’s Khalifa Kush weed strain.) Responded by making fun of Khalifa’s pants; accusing him of stealing “your whole [expletive] from Cudi” and making singles that were “corny as [expletive]”; and, most incomprehensibly and mean-spiritedly, calling Khalifa’s estranged wife (and Kanye’s ex) Amber Rose “a stripper” and adding, “I own your child!!!!”