Isabel Jones and Lara Walsh
Feb 15, 2018 @ 12:30 pm

Kanye West marked his return to social media with an ode to Hollywood’s most iconic couples on Valentine's Day. For the romantic holiday, the “Famous” rapper created a virtual love collage for his wife, Kim Kardashian, ending his Instagram hiatus with a 50-plus compilation of aspirational relationships that spanned a nine-hour-long period. 

The “Stronger” hitmaker, who left the social media app in May 2017, began his tribute to Kardashian at 3 p.m. ET, after initially sharing a sweet card penned with the words “Happy Valentine’s Day Babe."

Kanye West / Instagram

What followed was countless comparisons of their relationship to memorable past and current couples, including Madonna and Sean Penn, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez and Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Brangelina. Among the many nostalgia-filled shots of failed marriages were a few examples of everlasting love, such as Iman and David Bowie, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, and David and Victoria Beckham. 

Two photos of Kimye—including a shot of the longtime lovebirds enjoying ice cream cones and a recent photo of a platinum-haired Kim gazing at the “Gold Digger” star on a night out—rounded out the collection.

Kanye West / Instagram
Kanye West / Instagram

At the same time Mr. West ended his self-imposed social media ban with a bang, his wife took to Instagram to express her love for the rapper. “I love you to infinity! Happy Valentine’s Day!!!” the KKW Beauty entrepreneur wrote alongside a candid photo of the couple sharing an embrace on the street.

I love you to infinity! Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

While our first instinct is to deem this serial posting as “sweet” and move on (the man’s BLOWING UP our Insta feed, after all), Kanye’s social media spree leaves a great deal to unpack.

Mr. West features 53 different couples on the 'gram. At first glance, it seems the rapper is featuring iconic celebrity pairs—he begins with Sean Penn and Madonna, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere. But then, just when we think we know what’s up, Yeezy throws in some outliers, namely Paris Hilton and Deryck Whibley—do you even remember them dating?

More importantly (though you know we’re on that Deryck Whibley beat), out of the 53 couples featured, only 12 of them are still together (or were at the time of either partner’s death, in several cases). OK, technically 13, if you count Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big, the only fictional couple to grace Kanye’s feed.

So … what does this mean? What is Kanye trying to say? It’s clear he’s positioning him and Kim among the ranks of pop culture’s most memorable romances, but at what price? Is the Grammy winner implying that his marriage may end, as 75 percent of the celebrity relationships he chose to highlight did?

Kanye’s choices are surprising, or more so, his omissions. One of our generation’s most iconic couples (and friends of Kanye’s), Jay-Z and Beyoncé, are notably missing from the roundup. Also absent is Kimye’s double date go-to John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. Additionally, the only Kar-Jenners aside from Kim to appear in his feed are Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian—Kylie and Jacques (sorry, Travis Scott) didn’t make the cut.

Another possibly telling element is Kanye’s formatting. The rapper is careful to label each couple with an ampersand separating their names (i.e. “Madonna & Sean Penn). There are only two couples whose captions do not follow suit: Biggie Smalls and Faith Evans, and Kim and Kanye. West spells out “and” for Biggie and Faith, while he chooses he and Kim’s combined moniker “Kimye” in their photos.

OK, this formatting shift is probably just a typo—but honestly, when has anyone in the Kar-Jenner camp ever posted something on social media without a direct intention? If we’re going to examine this, English major-style, it seems Kanye is drawing a parallel between his relationship with Kim and Biggie’s relationship with Faith Evans. Off the bat, there are some notable similarities: Biggie and Kanye are both rappers, duh; both Biggie and Kanye shared particularly close relationships with their moms, and both couples can boast three years of marriage (Evans and Smalls had been married for nearly three years at the time of the rapper’s 1997 death, while Kim and Kanye rang in their three-year wedding anniversary last May).

Like Kim, Faith Evans is a woman of many interests—she’s foremost a singer (cue Kim’s 2011 single “Jam”), but she’s dabbled in producing, acting, and reality TV (hmm … ).

Again, what can this possibly mean? Is Kim going to reevaluate her music career? Is Kanye preparing us for his untimely death? Is Kimye developing a Yeezy-label time machine?

The final (confusing) piece of the puzzle is that after Kanye's 9-hour-long Instagram tribute, he went ahead and deactivated his account once more, effectively deleting the evidence.

No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative.

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