At the moment, Kanye West and Saturday Night Live are not the best of friends. But that’s not always been the case. In fact, the two’s relationship stems back almost a decade, when Kanye performed on the show’s first episode filmed in high definition. Since then, ‘Ye has performed on the show five times and been the subject of its skits more times than we can count. XXL decided to put together a timeline of the two’s history to show where it all started and where it all went wrong:
Contrary to popular belief, Kanye did not get his start on SNL in 2004, when he performed on NBC with John Legend and violinist Miri Ben-Ari. His SNL debut instead came in 2005, as part of the show’s season 31 premiere. ‘Ye first performed a melody from his hit single “Gold Digger,” (backed by a young DJ A-Trak) and then went into the Lupe Fiasco-assisted “Touch The Sky.” Following that, he performed “Heard ‘Em Say” with Maroon 5′s Adam Levine. At the time, everything was golden between the two.
The first signs of turmoil began to show during Kanye’s second appearance on SNL. Fresh off the release of Graduation, ‘Ye performed four different songs (with varied lengths) off the album: “Stronger,” “Good Life,” “Champion” and “Everything I Am.” During his performance of “Everything I Am,” he chose to forgo the song’s original lyrics and freestyle a verse, in which he said a line about how he was surprised SNL let him perform following his infamous George W. Bush comment, which happened the year before. The episode also featured a skit where Kanye mocked himself for crashing the stage at the MTV Europe Music Awards earlier that month.
Following the release of 808s & Heartbreaks, Kanye performed “Love Lockdown” and “Heartless” from the album. The performances were panned by critics, with some comparing it to a bad karaoke concert. It may have had something to do with the nature of the songs, which feature Kanye using some studio magic, but it also could have had to do with SNL’s infamous poor stage setup.
After Kanye’s interruption of Taylor Swift at the VMAs, public opinion of him declined rapidly. As a result, SNL took aim at the now superstar during its 35th season, putting on a variety of skits and monologues involving him. The biggest came when Taylor Swift herself was on the show and sang, “You might be expecting me to say something bad about Kanye and how he ran up on the stage and ruined my VMA monologue, but there’s nothing more to say, ’cause everything’s okay. I’ve got security lining the stage.” On top of that, the wear-wolf dude from Twilight karate kicked a Kanye mannequin at one point during the season. Ouch.
At this point, Kanye had reached his breaking point with SNL. On “Power,” the lead single to his grand opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which was released that year, Kanye said, “Fuck SNL and the whole cast.” He eventually was booked to perform again on the show, leaving everyone to speculate that he would go on another tirade. Instead, he changed the lyric to “Power” and brought out a bunch of ballerina dancers during his performance.
With the courtship of Kanye and Kim Kardashian made public, SNL began airing skits involving the two. Most involved Kim acting overly dumb and Kanye acting overly confident (well, that one may have been on point).
This may have been the rockiest year yet for Kanye and SNL. Not only did it involve more Kanye and Kim skits, including this recent bashing, but it also included Justin Timberlake taking shots at him on the show. On top of all that, leading up to his performance of “Black Skinhead,” Kanye supposedly went on a rant at a club and said, “Hell nah, I ain’t doing no motherfucking SNL skits.” Who knows where it will go from here.