With Jesus Is King finally available to the public, the biggest takeaway from the album’s promotion suggests even this humbled, born-again version of Kanye West is prone to inflating his own importance. During West’s recent interview with Real 92.3 LA host Big Boy, the man who declared himself “the greatest human artist of all time” proudly proclaimed that his footwear and apparel brand Yeezy “is the number one Google-searched brand on the planet.” BET did some digging, and it looks like West made a crown without context.
According to search metrics obtained by BET, West’s claim is only half-true. Via Google Trends and SEMrush, two tools used for keyword research, we found that the Trump disciple had unsurprisingly cherry-picked certain statistics.
Yeezy was the most Googled shoe brand over the past five years, but falls from its kingdom of clicks once you narrow the timeframe. Within the past 90 days and 12 months, Adidas and Vans were the top-searched brands on Google, respectively.
West’s proclamation begins to border on delusion once Yeezy’s current search activity is considered. Currently, the Yeezy brand averages 1 million searches per month, which is more than Puma and Reebok combined. But that activity is a fraction of the 4.1 million searches that footwear and apparel titan Nike averages each month, and the 2.7 million searches that Vans averages.
Fudged numbers aside, the popularity of Yeezy is undeniable, with Forbes projecting $1.5 billion in sales in 2019 for the Adidas-backed brand. It’s also reportedly the most searched brand on the resale market and completely owns the entire top 5 of the most popular sneakers being resold between spring 2018 and 2019. But resale profits have no bearing on a company’s revenue. Owning the most resold brand means as much as producing the most pirated album; it’s a superlative that shines only when viewed in a certain light.
In the same interview with Big Boy, West proudly asserts he’s “the founder of a $3 billion company.” In a July profile with Forbes, his company is referred to as a “billion-dollar empire.” But nowhere in the profile or in any subsequent reports has Yeezy been valued at $3 billion. West does note the valuation comes from individuals who are looking to buy Yeezy, which makes the claim unverifiable. Also, even if Yeezy is valued at $3 billion, that doesn’t mean its founder is a billionaire.
The New York Times reported in June that West only makes 5% of royalties on net sales of Yeezy shoes and apparel. That figure has been disputed, with unnamed sources familiar with the West’s Adidas partnership valuing his royalty take at 15%. Either way, the company’s valuation would only fractionally be reflected in the rapper’s overall net worth.
But even partial profits from Yeezy sales have catapulted the rapper from $53 million in debt to more than $150 million in pretax income in 2019, according to Forbes. While that makes him more successful than most, there’s still some distance between West and the founders he’s name-dropped over the past week.
From doubling-down on his slavery rhetoric to misrepresenting easily researched facts, West’s Jesus Is King press run is the latest example of a rich Republican engaging the public by being divorced from reality.
Google Trends and SEMrush keyword research provided by Path Interactive, an SEO & digital marketing agency located in New York City.