Is Kanye West the Starman? Bowie-West Conspiracy Theory
By Sebastian Diaz
The cover of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album supposedly foretold the arrival of a hip-hop icon. Photo source: Tone Deaf
David Bowie and Kanye West. These are two names you would never expect to hear in the same sentence. Exactly what does the androgynous prog rock star have in common with the outspoken African American rapper? Aside from their chameleonic presences and outrageous musical styles, one would think there’s not a lot in common between the two. But some Internet folks claim they’re connected in a very deep, macabre way.
1972 was a decisive year for the late David Bowie’s career. It was the year in which he released his fifth studio album, a rock opera titled “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. The album was the springboard for Bowie’s alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust. (Jenke)
In 2007, during the early years of YouTube and Internet fame, a blog appeared claiming to be the “Official Blog for the Kanye West, David Bowie conspiracy”. The blogger made a case for how Bowie and West are connected through the Ziggy Stardust album, which was published 5 years before the rapper’s birth in 1977.
The main clue of the theory is in the cover of the album, featuring Bowie posing on a dark London street at night, surrounded by cardboard boxes and concrete. Aside from Bowie’s glowing mat of blonde hair, the only other important focal point is a single illuminated shop sign above his head, reading “K. West”. Was it a coincidence, or not? Perhaps, but the theory became even stronger when, beyond the superficial name drop, the blogger analyzes the lyrical content of the album.
The rock opera, published in June 6th, 1972, details the rise and fall of an intergalactic warrior. The opening track, “Five Years”, paints a terrifying picture of the end of the world five years into the future. Unless, that is, a so-called “Starman” descends into earth and becomes humankind’s savior. Fast forward five years and two days into the future, and on June 8th, 1977 Kanye West was born. Bowie’s predicted messiah had just arrived.
We’ve got five years, what a surprise. Five years stuck on my eyes. We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot. Five years, that’s all we’ve got—"Five Years”
During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine on February 1974, Bowie gave an oddly prophetic description of how his alter-ego eventually leaves the planet: “As soon as Ziggy dies onstage, the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible” was his declaration. Fittingly, the day of the rock icon’s death on January 10th, 2016, Kanye West was one of the first artists to commemorate him. Just one hour after the official Facebook declaration of Bowie’s passing, West tweeted the following message, “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime”.
This tweet spurred a Reddit user to revive the original 2007 conspiracy blog, but this time with a few key updates. The theorist points to Bowie’s final studio album, “Blackstar”, as a not so thinly veiled confirmation that West was Bowie’s chosen successor. First of all, the rapper is, quite literally, a black star. Second, the album’s opening title track, “Blackstar”, features some eerily revealing lyrics:
Something happened on the day he died, spirit rose a meter and stepped aside. I’m a Blackstar—“Blackstar”
Of course, no conspiracy theory is complete without a few more critical tie-ins. The third track on the “Blackstar” album is titled “Lazarus”. The song is a reference to the Bible; in the New Testament, Lazarus falls ill and dies. He is placed on a tomb and gets resurrected by Jesus. It’s important to note that the third track on Kanye West’s album “Yeezus” is titled, ironically, “I Am A God”. This part of the theory is helped by the fact that, in 2006, West was featured in the cover of Rolling Stone wearing the crown of thorns. Can the Jesus-West allegory be any clearer? One final detail: On January 7th, 2016, three days before David Bowie’s death, Sia released her new song “Reaper”, which, coincidentally, was co-written and co-produced by none other than Bowie’s new spiritual successor and earthly incarnation, Kanye West.
Jenke, Tyler, “Here’s how David Bowie predicted the rise of Kanye West”, Tone Deaf, February 13th, 2019, https://tonedeaf.thebrag.com/heres-how-david-bowie-predicted-the-rise-of-kanye-west/, accessed April 12th, 2020.