Claim: Kanye West refused to continue a concert in Sydney, Australia, and shamed a fan in a wheelchair because that person declined to "stand up."
Example: [Collected via TMZ, September 2014]
Shortly after Kanye spotted another person in the crowd sitting down and once again stopped the show — then sent one of his employees into the crowd to make sure the person was handicap.
Once the hired gun confirmed the disability ... Kanye said "it's fine" and rapped on.
[Collected via the Huffington Post, September 2014]
Kanye West refused to continue his show on Friday night in Sydney, Australia until the entire audience was standing and dancing in physical Yeezus worship. Unfortunately for Kanye's self-esteem, one of the audience members had a prosthetic leg and another used a wheelchair.
One concertgoer told the Daily Mail that he addressed the crowd saying "I can't do this show until everybody stand up. Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and s**t." The fan waved her leg in the air and Kanye so kindly continued the show, stopping again when he saw there remained a single seated fan.
Origins: You'd be hard-pressed to find a celebrity more associated with inflated ego than Kanye West, and the hip-hop star has indeed been open about his high level of self-confidence in the past. So when a story ran across world gossip sites suggesting that West had halted a concert until all fans (including those with disabilities) were standing and shamed those who remained sitting began to make the rounds, many took it completely at face value and believed it sounded like something Kanye might do.
It's fair to say that at times Kanye West can appear to be arrogant, but the narrative about the concert in Sydney on 12 September 2014 isn't quite an accurate representation of the star's behavior. The circulating social media story portrays West as a demanding diva who petulantly refused to perform until everyone in the audience stood up and shamed those who failed to do so, cluelessly failing to realize that a couple of attendees were unable to stand to their disabilities.
The video shown below evidences a somewhat different version of the tale. Since West's performance on 12 September 2014, the clip of the "wheelchair misunderstanding" has been watched millions of times, and it shows the moments before Kanye launched into a performance of his song "Good Life." During the intro, the rapper did make reference to an inability to stand for the song ("I can't do this show until everybody stand up. Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and s**t."), and he paused for a while when he spotted two audience members who remained seated:
However, West's tone seemed more playful than mean and wasn't couched as a demand or shaming of specific audience members; when the crowd began to chant "Stand up" during the pre-song banter to move things along, West ascertained that one of the non-standing fans was indeed wheelchair-bound, responded with "if he's in a wheelchair, it's fine," and continued with the show.
Last updated: 15 September 2014