How a ‘rap feud’ with Kanye West really works

Kanye West, seen here at a New York fashion show earlier in the month, has recently put L.A. Times writer Chris Lee in his Twitter cross hairs.
Kanye West, seen here at a New York fashion show earlier in the month, has recently put L.A. Times writer Chris Lee in his Twitter cross hairs.
(Dario Cantatore / Associated Press)

Jimmy Kimmel, I feel your pain -- and your gain.

In 2010, I found myself engulfed in a “rap feud” with Kanye West much like the one in which Kimmel, the L.A.-based talk show host, found himself Thursday, with the erstwhile Louis Vuitton don going on a gonzo Twitter offensive against me and the media universe craning in to gawk and skewer the commotion.

In Kimmel’s case, West became enraged courtesy of the “Kid Re-Kreation” video he commissioned to lampoon a recent, typically magniloquent interview that Yeezus gave the BBC (in which he refers to himself as “a god” and muses at high volume and great length about leather jogging pants) hiring two children to reenact the conversation while sipping milk shakes. The rap star’s recourse: a stream of livid tweets, an angry phone call to Kimmel in which West declared himself “like Pac” and a demand for a public apology he still has not received.

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Three years ago, the Grammy-winning rapper-producer went after your humble correspondent thanks to an error in my Pop & Hiss post about “Runaway,” the expressionistic, 40-minute art film directed, written by and starring self-described “philanthropist of culture” West.

My crime: inadvertently referring to his album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” as “My Dark Twisted Fantasy” in two out of three citations. Even though I quickly corrected the mistake online with an explicit “SORRY” directed at West, he chose to reframe my omissions of “Beautiful” as part of a larger “non-positive thought conspiracy” against him.

‘Ye’s tweets, which included a deliberate misspelling of the author’s name as “Kriss,” proceeded as follows:

“I would’ve taking offense 2 the LA Times review of the movie but the extremely condescending writer accidentally complimented my suit! Thx,” West tweeted.


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“I believe the writer’s name was Kriss Lee who so bent on giving a soulless description of my work that he decided to call the album…

“…not even by the right name… ironically but I feel more strategically removing the word ‘Beautiful’ from the title! Woooooooooooow!

“I assumed a respected media source like the Los Angeles Times would send a writer that would at least have the respect to call the album..


“by it’s proper title. It’s called “MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY” Kriss... Even if your goal was to perpetuate non-positive...

“...thought association. You see what happens when you write with a negative agenda. You have the entire Los Angeles Time’s coming off..

“... like a non credible news source that can’t even fact check a well publicized album title.

“How can anyone believe anything you ever write again? I feel sorry for the LA Times more than anything for missing the opportunity...”


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As with Kimmel’s current predicament, West’s Twitter followers seconded the hip-hop icon’s vitriol with a steady stream of hate tweets toward me. I’ll admit, things got kind of intense. Then, as now, he had millions of followers in messianic thrall. But there was an unexpected upshot. As curiosity about what infuriated West grew, so did Web traffic toward my blog post about his decidedly grandiose, self-indulgent stab at filmmaking.

The angrier Kanye got at me online, the more people clicked the link on my none-too-complimentary read of his “Runaway” and were left to formulate opinions based on my writing.

Sure enough, within a matter of hours after putting me “on blast,” West deleted the tweets, prompting a number of sites including to wonder along the lines: “Publicist Move or Kanye Thought Twice About Giving the LA Times Some Shine???”


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At last count, Kimmel’s “Kid Re-Kreation” video had more than a million views on YouTube, not counting its innumerable repostings on personal YouTube channels. News of his and West’s rap feud has predictably achieved meme status. And on the heels of the virally epic Twerking-fire video Kimmel masterminded last month, the comedian is currently getting major props as some kind of information age savant.

The irony in both feuds, of course, is that West became a better hype man for unflattering perceptions of his output than the combined publicity departments of Kimmel’s ABC talk show and the Los Angeles Times ever could.

By being so thin skinned, by attempting to control the narrative on his own magniloquent terms, West ended up emphasizing his egomania -- and helping to popularize precisely what he was railing against.


After making light of the situation on his talk show Thursday night, Kimmel seems to have gotten the last word. “I challenge you to a rap battle @kanyewest,” the comedian wrote on Twitter Friday, cheekily adding the hash-tag #Iplaytheclarinet.


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Twitter: @__chrislee