Five days ago, when Mark Elkhouri checked his company’s Instagram, the owner of College Dropout Burgers was pretty excited to see megastar Kanye West found his account and started watching his stories.
In a post, Elkhouri said: “What’s happening here?? I must have found ‘God’ because @kanyewest is deep in our stories. Over 10 story views now!!”
Unfortunately, the cheers were short-lived. A letter followed from Kanye West’s lawyers ordering Elkhouri to paint a mural of the rapper in his hamburger shop in northeast Melbourne. The shutdown order also demanded that Elkhouri remove a crowned teddy bear logo — inspired by Kanye West’s debut album the school leaverreleased in 2004.
“In some ways I was disappointed,” Elkhouri told pamphlet† “But I support Kanye. The man is my fucking hero. There’s no denying how important he is to society. So the real question is how do I go about it? Ultimately, I have to respect it.”
The suspension letter was a follow-up letter to a letter Elkhouri received in February 2021. It also demanded a change to some menu items that turned down the rapper’s famous songs, including a chicken burger called Gold Digger.
Elkhouri chose to keep the College Dropout Burgers company name, but he had to shift his focus to honor other celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Prince and Mark Zuckerberg. The chicken sandwich is named after director Quentin Tarantino. “Fuck oath, something tells me Quentin doesn’t want to go after you like some salty cocks out there,” said Tommy Wallace on Instagram.
“I was hoping to sort it out with his lawyers, but it wasn’t supposed to be,” Elkhouri said. “The name College Dropout is now becoming synonymous with other dropouts. It could be a blessing in disguise. Not everyone is a fan of Kanye West.”
“It was never about publicity,” he adds. “The name isn’t just a reference to his first album, it’s about what we wanted to achieve. I wanted to change that story that Kanye West thought of as ‘crazy’ and I wanted people to revisit his music…I didn’t stop here playing the music of Kanye West.”
For those who saw the crowning glory of the old College Dropout Burgers logo, it was also a tribute to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. “Right now I want to shed light on who he was and that he’s also a high school dropout,” said Elkhouri, a little heartbroken but still a passionate Ye fan.
This article was updated in response to an interview with Mark Elkhouri.