When I pitched the idea for an article about a Kanye West-themed dating site, the seas were calm. West had recently come back to Twitter, he’d announced a new album, and the world seemed to be burning at the same rate that it always had been. So, I proceeded with what I’d proposed to do: I investigated the site, Yeezy.Dating, and interviewed its creator, Harry Dry. Then, I wrote and filed my article, figuring that my journey had ended. I was wrong.
Within hours of my piece being submitted, Kanye started moving in a decidedly new direction: he called Donald Trump his brother in dragon energy, started schmoozing with right-wing trolls, and told TMZ that slavery was a choice. He then released a wacky diss track and dropped a politically-charged “song” in which T.I. confronted him about his Twitter activity. Those tumultuous few days, for some, changed what it meant to be a Kanye fan. But what did it mean for for the users looking to find love on Yeezy.Dating?
Yeezy.Dating kicked off on March 8, 2018, when an Instagram account called “yeezydating” posted a photo with text that said, “YEEZY.DATING COMING THIS MARCH.” The photo’s caption advertised that the site was now open for early access. After hearing the big news from one of the (embarrassingly many) Kanye West fan accounts I follow, I quickly tried to sign up. After filling out the requisite form, however, I found that I was not able to get in.
The following week, the same account posted another photo that read:
“I AM NOW SPEAKING PUBLICALLY [sic] TO MY HERO MR KANYE WEST. YOUR MUSIC INSPIRES ME. YOU [sic] PASSION INSPIRES ME. I’M A 22 YEAR OLD IN MY BEDROOM WITH A BIG DREAM. GIVE THIS KID A SHOT. GIVE ME A CHANCE. CALL ME BRO. +44 7463686633 LOVE AND RESPECT - HARRY DRY.”
This direct plea for attention from Kanye cast some doubt on the legitimacy of the dating site, but I was still committed to going along for the ride. I checked again, but still wasn’t able to get into the site. On March 23, I got a newsletter from Harry Dry saying that he was still developing the site, and that it would now be coming in late March or early April. As the weeks passed, I grew more and more skeptical that Yeezy.Dating was ever going receive a proper launch. Then, on April 19, I got an email informing me that the site had gone live.
A few minutes later, Kanye West announced a new album, sending out tweets that said “my album is 7 songs” and that it would seemingly be released on “June 1st,” which all ended up proving to be true with Friday’s release of Ye. The coincidence seemed incredible to me – was it just extraordinary timing, or was the dating site somehow part of a marketing ploy for the new album? Was there any personal connection between Harry Dry and Kanye West? I needed answers, so I began a quest to figure out what the hell was going on with this website.
My first move with this investigation was to go in manually. The signup page was fairly basic, since it’s already assumed that everyone’s sole criteria for a partner is that they have to like Kanye West. It asked for my name, email address, password, bio, and social media links. I gave my real Twitter handle, since it didn’t feel right to disguise the fact that I’m a writer. I mean, what kind of precedent would that set if I actually met someone? And what would Kanye think if I wasn’t authentic about who I really am?
After the personal info section, the signup page asked for my profile picture, favourite Kanye West song, favourite Kanye West album, and top three musical artists. The artist pool it allows you to choose from was pretty small – obviously I went with Kanye, but I wasn’t able to find Ghostface Killah, Bruce Springsteen, or The Smiths – and Slayer wasn’t there either, just for the record – so I settled for Tupac and Jay-Z. The relationship preferences were initially limited to straight and same-sex, with “bisexual guy” and “bisexual girl” added shortly after launch.
Once you get inside, the site is a little difficult to get used to. Unlike most dating sites, there’s no way to search for specific information, so you’re basically given a giant scroll of potential partners. It didn’t make sense at first, but, as the site’s creator would later explain to me, the scroll is based on proximity, meaning that you don’t need to bother with searching for your own city, which is actually kind of a relief. I live in St. Louis, and I promptly learned that the closest Kanye-loving woman to me was Lauren, 19, in Iowa City. Her bio said “yo” and her favourite album was The Life of Pablo, which seemed like all the information I needed to proceed. You can’t message someone unless you mutually “like” each other, so my only option was to click on the small heart in the bottom right corner of her picture to indicate that I “liked” her. After that, there wasn’t much else I could do. Lauren, if you’re reading this, I tried.
Hannah from Nashville admitted on her page that her favourite Kanye album is The College Dropout and that she hasn’t listened to 808s and Heartbreak all the way through. I did not give her a heart. I did, however, give one to Ellen, 24, from Columbus, because she seemed extremely committed to the theme. Her photo was a Snapchat picture of her eating pizza, with a (modified) lyric from “Highlights” as the caption: “Ya wanna boss or an r&b chick with a six pack?” Her bio said that her favourite Kanye album was “every Kanye album,” even though she chose My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as her album avatar.
You can only give out three hearts per day, which I learned the hard way after trying to connect with Beti, 43, from Indianapolis, who, like me, listed Yeezus as her favourite Kanye album. When you’re out of hearts, there’s not much reason to stay on the site unless you’re doing preemptive research about who you’ll give hearts to tomorrow. I spent some time scrolling through to the bottom of the page, eventually reaching pockets of ready-to-mingle Kanye fans in New York City, Berlin, São Paolo, Melbourne, Singapore, and more.
Yeezy.Dating has gotten a quite a lot of coverage since its launch – it’s been mentioned on Vice, MTV, Billboard, Uproxx, The Outline, and it’s even had a Twitter Moment. But after looking through some of these articles, I realised that few saw the connections I’d seen between the launch and Kanye’s album release, nor did they pick up on any of the other weird coincidences that I noticed. All of this made me feel like I was in some kind of conspiracy theory film, or at least the confused math lady meme. To get some answers, I started looking into the site’s creator.
Yeezy.Dating’s mastermind, Harry Dry, is 22-year old web developer from London. I found his Twitter and Facebook pages to be pretty sparse, outside of references to Yeezy.Dating material; the only thing that really piqued my interest was a link on his personal Twitter page to something called Consumers Book, an online philosophy text that he’d ostensibly written and had copyrighted in 2017. (It’s also available for purchase on Amazon). In it, he offers motivational prose on culture, knowledge, creativity, and more. He also gives quotes from his favourite artists, including, in an earlier draft, Kanye himself. Harry would tell me in our conversation that he had removed the Kanye passages, but he didn’t explicitly say why. Yet, when you view Consumers Book and Kanye’s recent, Twitter-based “philosophy book” next to one another, they’re strikingly similar. Harry’s book had original quotes like “Everything is a remix” and “...originality is non-existent. It is authenticity which is invaluable,” while Kanye’s Twitter says “it’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to” and “be fearless. Express what you feel now what you’ve been programmed to think.”
I talked to Harry via Skype on Monday, April 23, four days after the site launched and Kanye announced his new album. I learned that Harry had the idea for the site back in March, when, during a period of reflection on his own romantic situation, he happened upon a story about one of the Trump dating sites.
“I was lying in bed at night and I was on Twitter,” he said. “And I saw the Trump dating site come up and I was like… shit, um, I’m not sure whether that’s a good idea or not, but it’s an interesting idea.” After some further thought, he realised that a site that replaced Trump with Kanye could be great. So he took a month off from work to build it. At the time of our conversation, there were 2,600 members on the site, worldwide: 1,600 guys, 1,000 women. Based on the site’s analytics, Harry believes that Yeezy.Dating had a more powerful opening than Tinder, which started with an extended soft launch.
Eventually, I pressed Harry on the coincidental timing between his site’s launch and Kanye’s album announcement. I laid out the data and asked him to explain the connection. He laughed. “That’s top investigative reporting,” he said. “Well, look, I can’t say too much... I’m not saying if I’ve spoken to Kanye yet, or whether he tweeted about the site or not. But hold on. That’s all I’m saying.” Later, I did mention that I was suspicious of the site and that, going into this article, I’d anticipated uncovering some weird coincidences. Harry said that a few of the members of the site’s chat room had expressed similar concerns. “Let me say one thing,” Harry added. “I think Kanye tweeted that there’s Yeezy offices coming out in London. I’m not saying any more. That’s my final word, for the minute.”
Still skeptical, I asked Harry what his endgame was for the site, whether he simply wanted to see it come to fruition, or whether, in light of his Instagram plea to Kanye, he just had a mixtape he wanted someone to hear. He assured me that he wasn’t a rapper and that he just wanted to see Yeezy.Dating thrive; it’s his hope that at some point, Kanye will get involved with the site in some capacity. In the future, Harry would like to use the site to set up events for Kanye fans all over the globe, like listening parties for all the new albums that are coming out in June. I asked Harry if he’d ever dated a Kanye fan. “Hopefully soon,” he replied.
The following day, amid an extended email chat about live Kanye videos, Harry nonchalantly dropped the following bomb: “Unfortunately I have never had a conversation with Kanye West. Apologies for avoiding that question yesterday.” In theory, that comment should have cleared up a lot of things, but it just didn’t. In fact, I became even more confused by the lack of answers this investigation was yielding. Was Harry connected to Kanye in some other way? Based on the proximity of the site going live and Kanye’s album announcement, as well as Harry’s cryptic comment about London’s upcoming Yeezy office, there had to be something going on. Or was I just getting more and more paranoid? I decided to heed Harry’s advice to hold on. Something was going to happen, I thought. It had to.
On April 28, Harry emailed me, asking me to review a press release he’d drafted in which he wrote about mysterious billboards that would be appearing imminently, around the world. They were going to say “Phone Me Kanye West. I’ve Got Ideas. +44 7857043724.” We talked about it a bit, and he ended up deciding to go ahead with it. Two days later, on May 1, the billboards went up in New York, London, Wyoming, and Calabasas, the four cities where Kanye announced he would be setting up Yeezy offices. They cost $6,900, and stayed up for about 24 hours. Harry’s phone rang incessantly for two days with radio stations trying to get an interview, Kanye fans calling to wish him luck, and even people impersonating Kanye. So many people called pretending to be Kanye, in fact, that Harry had to come up with, as he calls it, “The Kanye West Test”: he asked the name of the café that Kanye’s father opened in 2006, and if people stumbled around for an answer (it’s the Good Water Store and Café in Lexington Park, Maryland), he hung up. Oh, and a NYC marketing company called to offer him a job.
One would think that Yeezy.Dating – a place where one’s love of Kanye is thoroughly integrated into all activity – would have been one of the the musician’s most egregious casualties after his Trump-related tweetstorm; yet, it still remains active and thriving. Many of the women I failed to connect with there are still using it, and its mysterious creator continues to plan new features and updates, pushing ever closer to his dream of linking up with Kanye.
Regarding Kanye’s MAGA turn, Harry later told me that it did affect the site a bit. “Accounts got deleted every day,” Harry said. “Unfortunately I haven’t got the exact data on deleted accounts.” He’s still developing the site, though, and it’s up to 3,500 members. He also felt that the Charlamagne and TMZ interviews knocked some of the wind out of his campaign—in our last email, he told me that the Charlamagne interview went up literally 25 minutes after the billboards went live. I’m not even going to get started on that coincidence.
As of the publication of this article, Harry hasn’t secured a job at Yeezy, nor am I aware of any conversations he’s had with Kanye, but, somehow, that doesn’t erase any of my suspicions that there’s some weird link here that I’m missing. How could he have launched the site minutes before Kanye announced a new album? Why is the text of his Consumers Book so similar to Kanye’s internet-age proverbs? Is Harry in some way connected to the imminent Yeezy office in London? We may have to wait a bit longer for answers to these questions. I can’t decide whether he’s incredibly lucky, incredibly unlucky, or some kind of preternaturally-gifted advertising virtuoso who knows how to keep a secret. Either way, nobody can argue that he hasn’t put in the time.
In the end, regardless of what’s going on behind the scenes, Yeezy.Dating is here to bring people together. And, according to Harry, it’s working: he’s already getting emails from people who have gone on successful dates from the site.
Believe it or not, just before finishing the first draft of this article, I officially matched with Madeline K., 27, from Chicago, whose favourite Kanye song is “Everything I Am,” the very track that convinced me so many years ago that Kanye was great. In a horrific turn of events, however, she never responded to my messages. I’ll be ok, though – Kanye taught me that waves don’t die.
This article originally appeared on Noisey US.