David Bowie was a force of nature. With not one but several intricately constructed personas, he was more than just a rock and roll icon: he was a muse, a style icon, and a trailblazer. With his vision being as incredible as it was, it is no wonder that people thought there was more to it than mere genius. From theories of Bowie secretly being an alien to apocalypse warnings, the theories are all different degrees of wild. The wildest of these, however, is the theory that
David Bowie somehow predicted the existence of Kanye West.
In 1972, the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” came out. It was unique, telling the story of the fictional alien rock star and his time on earth. However, there were several symbols embedded in this album that could easily be associated with Kanye West. The first of which is the mysterious sign on the cover of the album reading “K. West”, which was
never explained by Bowie. The second strange coincidence is the song “Five Years”. Kanye West was born five years after the album was released. The correlation to Kanye West is that, according to fans, West could take on the role of Ziggy Stardust and save humanity.
The second album said to point to Kanye West is David Bowie’s final one; the avant-garde “Black Star”. The album was released in 2016 and said to be Bowie’s “parting gift” to humanity. It mixes genres such as jazz and soul while covering themes like death. Because he wrote it with the knowledge he was dying, people speculate that he is announcing the leader who will replace him.
In the song for which the album is named, he sings that “Something happened on the day he died /
Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside/ Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried/ ‘I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar!’” Because West was literally that, a Black star, it is easy to imagine that those lyrics could be about him. After that, the evidence gets less compelling, relying on mere coincidences.
The song “Lazarus” is named after the Biblical character in the New Testament whom Jesus raises from the dead. West often likened himself to Jesus, dressing like him on the cover of The Rolling Stone and even releasing a song called “I Am God”. Incidentally, “Lazarus” and “I am God” were both the third song on their albums. However, if they were truly connected, one would
wonder why Bowie chose Lazarus of all Biblical characters, who was just a regular man rather than a prophet who foretold the coming of Jesus. Besides that, the opening lyrics to “Blackstar” are that he isn’t a “Gangstar”. When Kanye West came onto the hip hop scene, gangsta rap was most popular in the music scene. West deliberately strayed from this style, leaning to contemplative lyrics and samplings of classic songs instead. Another connection is that Kanye West, like many others, was inspired by Bowie. When Bowie died, he was one of the first celebrities to respond, tweeting that “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime”.
Indeed, it’s easy to see the connections between the two. Kanye West was also extremely dedicated to his music and later in his career took on other forms of self-expression. They were both vastly creative and dedicated to a fault when it came to their craft. However, would Kanye West really be considered a savior? Some would argue yes. He did, in fact, start his own church and even came out with a Christian album, “Jesus is King”. At the same time though, he’s just a human being. He’s flawed, like everyone else in the world, and while his art is incredible, he’s just another icon. However, it’s a harmless theory and a relatively fun one at that, and at the end of the day, we will never be able to truly know the meaning behind the mysterious lyrics of David Bowie.
Joyce Chen. "David Bowie and Kanye West: Music's Most WTF Theories, Explained". The Rolling Stone.
Tyler Jenke. "Here's How Bowie Predicted the Rise of Kanye West". Tone Deaf, 13 February 2019.