Why the Kanye West-David Bowie Cover Album Rumors Have Sparked Outrage Among Music Fans
British rock musician and actor David Bowie died on Jan. 10, leaving in his wake a legacy of matchless portions. In the time since the 69-year-old's death, countless tributes in the form of flower vigils and admiring sentiments have been erected in Bowie's honor. Enter American heavyweight rapper Kanye West, who was rumored to be working on his own Bowie remembrance, an album of Bowie covers — something that appalled many music fans. West's camp has since contested the rumor, however not before it sparked backlash, including a petition to bar West from covering Bowie's music.
The amount of outrage the imagined Bowie cover album elicited was palpable. Those who opposed West's alleged undertaking have come out swinging against the rapper, many of them arguing that, as an artist, Bowie's work was singular. As such, many think it would be a "sacrilege" for West to rework Bowie's canon of recorded tracks.
To quantify that objection, a petition on the U.K. website 38 Degrees that aims to stop West in his tracks has earned thousands of supporters. "David Bowie was one of the single most important musicians of the 20th and 21st century. It would be a sacrilege to let it be ruined by Kanye West," reads the petition, which was created by an individual named Peter Piranha. As of Wednesday, the document had garnered more than 13,000 signatures.
Speaking to British publication the Daily Star, an unnamed source said, "some [of the songs] are straightforward cover versions with Kanye actually singing. On others he is rapping with his own lyrics over Bowie's music."
Yet on Wednesday, TMZ debunked the Daily Star's article, reporting that a West representative said the rumors were false.
"Profiting off someone's death is [a] disgusting thing to do," one supporter wrote on the petition's page.
"I've been a Bowie fan for 47 years. His music is precious to me," another wrote.
Another commentator was less diplomatic. "The bloke cannot sing or play anything musical," the petition supporter wrote. "He couldn't lace David's boots. Remember his annihilation of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' at Glastonbury? Shame on his overinflated ego."
Other Bowie fans shared their objections on Twitter.
Despite the sudden and vicious backlash against West, many other users on Twitter flipped the script. "If Kanye West covering Bowie upsets you enough to sign petitions, you represent the exact reactionary cultural idiocy Bowie didn't," wrote one user.
For the time being, at least one project from West is confirmed. Earlier this month, West announced the long-awaited release date for his forthcoming album, Swish. If all goes according to plan, the record will be released on Feb. 11. Here's one of the singles, "No More Parties in LA," which will likely appear on Swish and features rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Correction: Jan. 20, 2016