For the normal person, that's a highly alarming amount, but for Kanye — who has tremendous earning power — it's not necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, the rapper should be in even more debt, says Fred Schebesta, CEO of personal-finance comparison and education site Finder.com. He should be investing all that he can in his brand — up to as much as five times $53 million, Schebesta tells Business Insider — to ensure its longevity.
"Kanye is a massive business," the CEO says. "Other businesses have a lot more than $53 million of debt — and Kanye's reach and impact on the global stage as an entertainer is just as big, if not bigger, than some of the major brands around the world."
To give you an idea of his incredible reach, Kanye has 20 million Twitter followers. "Some companies would pay $53 million for that!" says Schebesta.
And when he decided to release his latest album on music-streaming service and app Tidal, it took only one tweet to propel the app to the No. 1 spot on the US App Store.
"Who doesn't want to partner with someone with that kind of market power and that kind of brand?" says Schebesta. "The attention that he commands — that's what is worth so much."
With Kanye's serious earning capacity, it shouldn't take long to pay off the $53 million.
"I can't see why he can't pay that back in 12 months' time," says Schebesta. "He could pay it off with one movie or one big endorsement contract."
At Slate, Jordan Weissman writes that since West earns an estimated $22 million to $30 million a year, "For Kanye, $53 million in debt is basically equivalent to the median American household, which earns $53,000 a year, carrying $127,000 in debt — or, you know, a mortgage."
Why, then, would Kanye publicize these financial problems that may not be too problematic after all?
At Vanity Fair, Emily Jane Fox writes:
In some regard, West's tweets may simply have been an elaborate and modern version of a pitch deck in search of that true marker of early 21st century creative genius: Series A funding. Indeed, he publicly solicited the help of Mark Zuckerberg, whom he asked for $1 billion to keep making art. He also said he would be willing to accept money from Google's Larry Page. Any other hedge-funder or bigwig with pennies to spare would do, too. These guys, after all, know that $53 million is a small price tag for a moonshot.
"It could be a marketing stunt to build his brand even more," suggests Schebesta. "He's basically martyring himself in order to get even more attention, which is genius."