Kanye West wasn’t wrong to appoint himself Yeezus back in 2013, but according to some ardent music conspiracy theorists, his destiny to become one of music’s most innovative, controversial figures was determined long ago. Say, back in 1972, exactly five years before he was even born.
That was the year when the late David Bowie released his seminal rock-opera album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, his fifth studio album and the springboard for Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, he with the flaming red hair and not-so-earthly origins. On a 2007 Blogspot site self-described as the “official blog for the Kanye West, David Bowie conspiracy,” one fan made a case for how Bowie and West are inextricably linked to one another in the most peculiar of ways – and how it all began with the release of Ziggy Stardust on June 6, 1972.
The breakdown goes something like this: the cover of Bowie’s 1972 album featured an image of the rock star posing jauntily on a dark London street, surrounded by cardboard boxes and damp concrete. The only really prominent focal point of the picture, aside from Bowie’s great shock of blonde hair? A single illuminated shop sign hanging just above his head that reads “K. West.” Coincidence, perhaps?
The theory then digs a little deeper beyond the superficial name drop, dissecting the meaning behind the first track on the album: “Five Years.” The lyrics to the song paint a grim picture of a world set to end in five years’ time – unless, that is, a so-called “Starman” descends upon earth to save humanity from itself.
Fast-forward five years, two days later, and on June 8th, 1977, West was born. Bowie’s predicted “Starman” had arrived.
In a 1974 interview with Rolling Stone, Bowie gave an oddly prophetic description of how his alter ego eventually leaves this earth. “As soon as Ziggy dies onstage, the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible,” he said at the time.
Fittingly, when the rock icon died on January 10th, 2016, West was one of the first artists to commemorate him, tweeting just one hour after the official Facebook announcement of Bowie’s death: “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.”
That’s when a Reddit user revived the original conspiracy theory, but this time with a few key updates, like pointing out that Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, is a not-so-thinly-veiled confirmation that West is his chosen successor. First, the rapper is, quite literally, a black star, and second, the album’s first track, titled “Blackstar,” features some eerily revealing lyrics.
“Something happened on the day he died,” the lyrics read. “Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside/ Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried/ ‘I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar!'”
But no conspiracy theory is complete without a few more critical tie-ins. The third track off Bowie’s Blackstar, which he recorded during his secret 18-month battle with cancer, is titled “Lazarus,” a nod to the Biblical character of the same name. In the Bible, Lazarus falls ill and dies. He is placed in a tomb, and Jesus brings him back from the dead through the power of prayer.
It’s important to note here that the third track off West’s 2013 Yeezus album was called, unironically, “I Am A God.” (The theory is helped along here by the fact that the outspoken rapper posed with a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stone back in 2006.) Could the Jesus-West comparisons be any more clear?
Oh, and one more thing. Three days before Bowie’s death in January 2016, Sia previewed her new song “Reaper” – which, coincidentally, was co-written and co-produced by none other than Bowie’s new creative spirit incarnate: Kanye West.