Since David Bowie's death, announced Monday, fans have been dealing with their grief in different ways. Many have followed conventions of celebrity mourning, sharing stories on social media, recording tributes to his music and leaving flowers outside of his apartment. Other fans have adopted a much more drastic form of commemoration — one involving a mid-aughts conspiracy theory that Bowie's famous 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, predicted the rise of a Grammy Award-winning rapper.
This conspiracy, which popped up again on Reddit's /r/conspiracy on Tuesday, offers evidence within Bowie's catalog that Bowie had foreseen his death and Kanye West's birth. It concludes that Bowie had chosen West to replace him and take up Bowie's mantle as rock 'n' roll's premiere innovator.
The conspiracy theory's origin can be traced back to a 2007 Blogspot site describing itself as the "official blog for the Kanye West, David Bowie conspiracy." The blog claims to be able to prove "how David Bowie predicted the coming of Kanye West," which would make "David Bowie the John the Baptist of music."
The first and most important piece of evidence comes from Bowie's 1972 album cover for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which portrays Bowie standing underneath a sign that reads "K. West."
The sign K. West belonged to a furrier that used to operate at 23 Heddon St. Fans have been asking about the sign's significance for years, long before Mr. West stepped on the scene.
"People read so much into it," Bowie said in a 1993 Rolling Stone interview. "They thought K. West must be some sort of code for 'quest.' It took on all these sort of mystical overtones."
It's taken on even more since West's ascension to rap godhead. The first song on the album, titled "Five Years," also seems to predict the rapper's coming. The song claims the world has five years left before its demise — unless, as later songs reveal, a savior arrives, a "Starman" to redeem humanity and save it from itself.
"Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinites to write the coming of a starman, so he writes 'Starman,' which is the first news of hope that the people have heard," Bowie told William S. Burroughs in a 1974 Rolling Stone interview. "So they latch onto it immediately."
Exactly five years and two days after the album's release, a star is born: Kanye West in Atlanta.
Bowie's discussion of Ziggy Stardust's death in that same interview also has some odd parallels with the present. "As soon as Ziggy dies onstage, the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible," he said.
West was one of the first stars to commemorate Bowie when he died Sunday, tweeting just an hour after the official Facebook announcement, discussing the inspiration he's taken from the star.
Additionally, on Bowie's most recent album, Blackstar, the third track, "Lazarus," is named after the biblical character resurrected by Jesus Christ. In a parallel, the third track on Kanye's most recent album, Yeezus, is titled "I Am a God." West also appeared on a 2006 cover of Rolling Stone dressed as Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns.
Drawing even further connections, the recent Reddit post's author points out the lyrics on Blackstar's opening track tell the story of a leader dying and having somebody else take his place — a "blackstar" specifically.
"Something happened on the day he died," the lyrics read. "Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside/ Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried/ 'I'm a blackstar, I'm a blackstar!'"
West, obviously is literally a "black star." Furthermore, the first thing Bowie's savior character says he's not is a "gangstar." If one remembers back when West first stepped onto the scene around 2003, he positioned his a music as an alternative to the gangsta rap that was extremely popular during the era.
Obviously, most of these connections are easily explained away with a single word: coincidence. That aside, it still offers a pretty entertaining thread to follow through the two artists' careers. For those that believe, it offers something else: hope that someone will continue to push music forward with the same uncompromising determination as David Bowie did during his lifetime.