Ye’s music video for “Eazy,” released March 3, featured the rapper reflecting on his divorce and custody battle as he holds what appears to be a bloodied, disfigured head created to look like Davidson.
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Ye, Kardashian and Davidson for comment.
In an Instagram post defending the video on Monday, Ye said artistic expression is therapeutic and “protected as freedom of speech.”
“Art inspires and simplifies the world,” the “Donda” rapper wrote. “Art is not a proxy for any ill or harm. Any suggestion otherwise about my art is false and mal intended.”
Kardashian and Davidson began dating shortly after she hosted “SNL” in October. Over the past month, Ye has been more active than usual on social media, sharing and then deleting posts about Kardashian, her family and Davidson.
“I’ve learned that using all caps makes people feel like I’m screaming at them,” he wrote in a since-deleted Instagram apology on Valentine’s Day, letting fans know he’s working on his communication.
“I can benefit from a team of creative professionals, organizers, mobilizers and community leaders. Thank everybody for supporting me. I know sharing screenshots was jarring and came off as harassing Kim. I take accountability. I’m still learning in real time. I don’t have all the answers. To be a good leader is to be a good listener.”
Another scene in the video depicts a caricature claymation version of Davidson, drinking and smoking as he’s covered with a body bag and pulled out of frame. Another claymation person, seemingly Ye, is shown driving an ATV with Davidson tied up and strapped to the back. He drags the body on the ground before burying Davidson alive, sprinkling flower seeds on top of his head and driving away.
“God saved me from that crash / Just so I can beat Pete Davidson’s (expletive),” West raps. A woman in the background asks, “Who?”
At the end, a title card reads: “Everyone lived happily ever after.” Except Davidson, Ye notes, calling him “You Know Who.”
“JK he’s fine,” the video concluded.
The music video’s release came a day after a judge ruled Kardashian legally single after eight years of marriage to Ye. The two share four children, ages 2, 4, 6 and 8.
The video was met with backlash online, with social media commenters sharing concerns about Ye crossing a line between creative expression and harassment against Davidson and Kardashian.
“Kim Kardashian has been declared legally single and in response Kanye uploads a stop motion music video of him KIDNAPPING and DECAPITATING Pete Davidson?????? This is abuse,” one Twitter user wrote.
“The whole sick thing about the Kanye, Kim and Pete Davidson thing is that the world is watching a woman publicly be abused and finds it funny or normal,” another added.
“Anyone who still supports Kanye West after this is a red flag to me,” wrote another. “And don’t excuse this with ‘ It’s art ‘ – it’s sick. There are a lot of examples throughout history where artist went too far and this one belongs on the list.”
This isn’t the first time Ye has drummed up controversy for recreating and using another celebrity’s body as a prop in the name of art: In 2016, his “Famous” music video featured fully nude likenesses of friends, major celebrities and political figures including Kardashian, Caitlyn Jenner, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Amber Rose, Ray J, Donald Trump, George Bush, Bill Cosby and Chris Brown.
The visual of him holding Davidson’s head in the “Eazy” music video is also reminiscent of Kathy Griffin’s 2017 photo of her holding a mock decapitated head of Trump, which brought her career to a screeching halt and briefly landed her on the Department of Homeland Security’s no fly list.