Let it be known that Amber Rose can handle tough conversations with more grace, patience, and a way realer vocabulary than pretty much anyone out there — even when, especially when, her ex, Kanye West, comes up in the discussion.
On the latest episode of Complex‘s Everyday Struggle, the “cool-ass Philly chick who learned her way through life” imparts plenty of wisdom. She discusses her #SlutWalk, a movement that champions sex-positive discourse and force participants to question deeply entrenched double-standards and stigmas in sex as a political act. She talks about her book and how her real-life experiences have shaped her successful business acumen. She talks about her “sister” Blac Chyna, Rob Kardashian, revenge porn, and an ugly breakup that’s playing out in sadly public fashion. She talks about her ex-husband, Wiz Khalifa, and how they’re doing a great job co-parenting their son, Sebastian.
And she talks about West, their relationship, how the fame that came with it permanently changed the course of her life — and, frankly, her side of the story is the one that’s frequently, and intentionally, overlooked.
Rose and West dated for two years and broke up in 2010; the album he’d drop later that year, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, has plenty of moments that pull from the heartbreak that comes with a significant split. As such, the Amber Hurt Kanye narrative is a popular one, and Rose won’t stand for it. (Talk of Kanye comes up around the 44:00 mark.) Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks joke about how they’re worried about 21 Savage, Rose’s boyfriend, and cry out that she shouldn’t “hurt him” along the lines of her hurting West.
“My whole thing is, in all of my relationships, I’ve been hurt,” she told the Everyday Struggle crew. “I’ve been the one who has been heartbroken. Don’t ‘Oh My God’ me! I’ve never cheated on any of my boyfriends; I never went behind their backs.”
She says that she never spoke badly of West, and was corrected by Akademiks when he pointed out a Tweet from last year thrown out at the rapper’s expense. She stressed that she only clapped back after literal years of bullying.
“This is after six, seven years of constant bullying from him. He said one thing about my child that day, Akademiks,” she clarifies. “You know what I’m sayin? You don’t say nothin’ about my baby. I was quiet for so long. Let me tell you something: I could’ve got a reality show just off the fact that I was his girlfriend. I could’ve wrote a book just off the fact that I was his girlfriend. … The only thing that I got from him is fame, and fame don’t get you no fuckin’ money. Period.”
Talk then turned to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and just how much of it is rooted in reality — or, specifically, which parts were swayed heavily by West’s perception of the situation, and where Rose’s take on it differs. A huge difference in how that story gets told? West had a platform for speaking his truth, and Rose, at the time, did not.
“You have to imagine, at that point, right, I had no voice at all,” she recalls. “I had a couple followers on Twitter, maybe. And that is an extreme form of bullying as well — to have such a huge voice, put out an album, to say whatever the fuck you want, and I’m sure he said shit pertaining to other pieces in his life that didn’t have shit to do with me, right? ‘Her brother’s on coke’ and shit like that — I have two little brothers, they’re kids, so that wasn’t true … It didn’t pertain to me, personally, so everyone thought it was about me. It wasn’t. I had to take that L, take the heartbreak on top of it … Maybe that was how he looked at the situation, I don’t know.”
She doesn’t bash the album at all, and if anything, stresses that it’s a great piece of work, albeit an extremely complicated one that signifies a ton of hurt for her. “It’s a great part of history in hip-hop, and that’s cool, and I’m happy to be a part of it, but during that time was not a great time for me. I’m famous and I’m broke, I don’t have any money — we weren’t married, he didn’t owe me shit — and I had to figure out what I was going to do with my fame at the time … If I was going to kill myself, I would’ve done it during those times.”
Oof. A round of applause for Rose and her candor, and for Everyday Struggle for giving this perspective an overdue spotlight.