Rappers’ Confessions of Delusions of Grandeur
The Infamous God Complex
Have you ever heard someone describe someone else as having a “God complex” or refer to themselves as a God? What about Delusions of Grandeur? Do you even know what those phrases mean? Or do you know what they mean and think it is an absolutely insane thought? Let’s talk about it. To put it simply, a God Complex is another way to identify Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or rather, an overly inflated sense of importance. Delusions of Grandeur is more or less synonymous with a God Complex because those with an over inflated sense of self need as many fancy sounding terms to describe their condition as possible. One is never enough.
We could dive into the idea that those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a God Complex, Delusions of Grandeur or whatever you decide you’d like to call it this week, and discuss how it is actually a mask and piece of armor that an incredibly broken person builds around their shattered pieces of self, but that’s not the most fun topic either. A psychological study from 2012 noted that people who scored higher on a Narcissistic Personality test typically had more Facebook friends, tagged themselves in more pictures, and updated their statuses more frequently. However, it is important to note that many of those who struggle with these complexes are masking sheer insecurity, but when it bleeds into complete delusion, it can become a different story.
Now let’s talk about celebrities, specifically rappers, because, of course we are going to talk about them when discussing those who refer to themselves as “God” or equal to the almighty being himself. One of the most recently notable celebrities who has been on a seemingly downward mental health spiral is the ever-talented Kanye West. His musical talents cannot go unnoted, but his troubling statements over the past decade or so seem to push his music to the background as the public believes it is their right to dig into his personal life and mental state. Kanye West has submerged his thinking in what can be seen as a classic example of a God Complex or Delusions of Grandeur.
Kanye West has been noted saying that he believes he is a God. In the song “I Am a God,” off of his Yeezus album, West raps, “I am a God. Hurry up with my damn massage. Hurry up with my damn ménage. Get the Porsche out the damn garage.” When confronted with his comments about being a God, he rebutted with “You’re asking me who I think I am. I just told you. I just told you who I think I am.” Kanye is so deep into these delusions that he and his wife, Kim Kardashian, even named their daughter, North, which is supposed to be indicative of a higher power. But is Kanye just another rapper with a classically over inflated sense of self with outward statements pointing to severe delusions of grandeur? Or is there something else going on?
Let’s take a step back and talk about the commonly induced pattern of rappers bragging in their songs and their lives. Hip Hop and Rap stars consistently discussing and focusing on God and God-like characters might even be able to be traced back to the roots of this genre of music itself. Referring to one’s self as a “king” or a “master” or even a “boss” is extremely common in addition to bragging about any highfalutin aspect of their lavish lifestyles.
Eminem wrote these lyrics in his song, The Ringer:
Yeah, let me explain just how to make greatness
Straight out the gate, I’m ’bout to break you down
Ain’t no mistakes allowed, but make no mistake I’m ’bout
To rape the alphabet, I may raise some brows
If I press the issue just to get the anger out (brrr)
Eminem also wrote a song entitles, Rap God, which feels fairly self-explanatory as well.
LL J Cool wrote these lyrics in his song, Mama Said Knock You Out:
Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years
I’m rocking my peers
Puttin’ suckers in fear
And last on this list, but definitely not the last out there, Cardi B wrote these lyrics in her song, Bodak Yellow:
Now she says she gon’ do what to who?
Let’s find out and see, Cardi B
You know where I’m at
You know where I be
You in the club just to party
I’m there, I get paid a fee
I be in and out them banks so much
I know they’re tired of me
Even back in 2019, an American rapper and actor, Lil Cory, claimed to be a God from another universe sent here to “raise the vibrational frequency of the masses,” which makes you wonder if there was no longer room to claim to be God, or above others, in this universe. It is abundantly clear that this may simply be a trend among the genres. Bragging in rap songs gives listeners an outlet to imagine what it would really be like to live a lavish life worth boasting about. Even John Lennon once stated on a talk show that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, which received back lash sue to insensitivity toward the Christian community, but, let’s be honest, the Beatles were huge and definitely up there if not actually bigger than Jesus. This potential “trend” and/or stylistic choice within the rap community does blur the line between creative choice and true mental stability breaking under Delusions of Grandeur and God Complexes.
Now, back to Kanye West. Where do his delusions come from? His longtime friend and prolific rapper, Jay-Z has long referred to himself as a higher power, specifically referring to himself has Hova, which is actually a shortening of the name Jehovah. West has also been reported saying, “West was my slave name, and Yeezus is my god name.”
Above, the question “is something else going on with Kanye,” was asked. In fact, it has been publicly known that Kanye West has been hospitalized for mental health issues, returning to the public after this hospitalization with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. This condition has been around for centuries and is actually a genetic condition. Bipolar disorder affects one’s ability to mood regulate. These mood swings typically jump between depression, mania, and a mixture of the two, referred to as hypomania or dysphoric mania.
What is a manic episode? A manic episode is usually presented with a period of an abnormally elevated or possibly irritable, mood, with a mixture of high energy, racing thoughts, exaggerated actions and behaviors, and yes, even Delusions of Grandeur. Many creative people who suffer from bipolar disorder spend a lot of their manic episodes creating their content nonstop, leading many to believe that they will no longer be able to create at the caliber they are used to if they find treatment and balance.
Based on his publicly witnessed behavior alone, it is clear when Kanye West is deep within the thralls of a manic episode, through his comments such as, “I am God” and believing he is the best out there. More specifically, it has been abundantly clear that Kanye himself is not entirely present when he makes statements such as this, “Are they f–king crazy? [Bro] by 50 percent [I am more influential than] Stanley Kubrick, Picasso, Apostle Paul, f–king Picasso and Escobar. By 50 percent, more influential than any other human being. Don’t f–k with me. Don’t f–k with me. Don’t f–k with me. By 50 percent dead or alive, by 50 percent for the next 1,000 years. Stanley Kubrick, ‘Ye” which was said on SNL before being admitted into a mental health treatment center. Statements like that that do not make much sense to the average fan, and are something known as psychotic word salad. These fragmented sentences are a rant that Kanye’s brain cannot catch up with.
We cannot leave this piece without discussing the most recent troubling outburst that came from Kanye West’s direction, his infamous revelation that he planned to run for president in the 2020 election. Now, in Kanye’s defense, if America can elect a reality star into office, this statement isn’t totally out of left field. In fact, the role of president of the United States might even require some hints of a God Complex for anyone who desires to take it on. In fact, many believe Donald Trump is deep in the throes of a God Complex. Outwardly arrogant and a generally openly inflated sense of self and purpose in this world are some of the key symptoms of Narcissistic Personality disorder. Would this type of inflated sense of self make someone a better leader? It is a fair question that the University of Nebraska Lincoln decided to try and answer back in 2014 and they do not think Delusions of Grandeur make someone a better leader. This study concluded that even though Narcissism can be a beneficial tool in specific circumstances, like how having an overly inflated sense of self in an interview can be a strategic tool, narcissists are, at the end of the day, more likely to take dangerous risks because they are so deluded in their belief that they are equal to God. However, other studies use this same point to disagree with this conclusion, stating that the ability to take risks is a positive aspect in the right leader.
Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, Kanye West has actually brought up the idea of running for president before this past election. Way back when, in 2015, at the MTV Video Music Awards, while accepting his Video Vanguard award, he announced his bid for the White House, stating, “it’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth and, yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” Then, in November of 2019, he discussed relocating his company, Yeezy, to the United States for the sole purpose of creating jobs. In regard to this move, he is quoted saying, “when I run for president in 2024, we would’ve created so many jobs that I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk.”
While it is stated above that many rappers utilize the aura of Delusions of Grandeur as a style in their lyrics or even simply as a method of getting press and attention in this visceral industry. Therefore, while it may appear that all or most rappers have Delusions of Grandeur, much of it is a façade. However, with the ever-growing pile of odd behavior Kanye West seems to compile during his time in the limelight, these fake God Complexes are not always the case in regard to those in the public eye. While the line is blurred between the two, the line is still there.
How can you pinpoint whether someone is experience genuine Delusions of Grandeur or not? The key identifier of a genuine Delusion of Grandeur is that these delusions are not directly linked to an experience or tied to an action. A delusion, however, is not directly related to anything occurring at that moment in time. For example, if you are walking around your day to day, believing you are the star of your own reality show, like the film The Truman Show, that would be a delusion. These delusions are also easier to identify when paired with other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Therefore, a singular instance where a delusion of grandeur may occur does not necessarily mean that it is one.
The rappers we discussed above who brag in their lyrics do not technically indicate that they are all suffering from genuine God Complexes. This also links to the idea of celebrity in general. Being a celebrity is tied to an action, meaning these narcissistic tendencies are not coming from out of the blue. These bragging rappers are also not claiming to be genuine Gods. These behaviors are directed toward material possessions or the power of celebrity status. The trend of bragging in rap songs, and even in some instances of referring to oneself as a God, is not enough evidence alone to indicate that someone is truly delusional.
God complexes are not reserved for those in the public eye either. Another manifestation of a God Complex can even occur when a person convinces themselves they are special to a celebrity who, ultimately, has no idea they exist.
Kanye West’s statements about his god-like status, on the other hand, are paired with a long-time pattern of troubling behavior such as his idea that he actually is a God, and that he believes he is running for president of the United States, and the most damning piece of evidence, his bipolar diagnosis. Describing Kanye West as someone with a God Complex or Delusions of Grandeur would definitely be accurate, but it is important to recognize that, while correct, it is also stemming from a mental health condition that is going untreated. Rappers like to put forth the façade of a God Complex persona for clout, yet in some cases, like with Kanye, it can root itself much deeper than simply a mask.