What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
Kanye West’s Visit to Donald Trump at the White House Is the Final Straw
When you’re a fan of a musician, your job is to support them. You’re exchanging your time, money, and intellectual energy for their art. If they’re releasing a new album, you buy the album. If they’re going on tour, you buy tickets to see that tour. If they’re selling new merch, you buy the merch. A single stream or download functions as an endorsement—the most powerful vote you have in the greater conversation of the music industry. If you’re a good fan or invested enough, you’ll attempt to hold him or her accountable when they misstep. You’ll tell them not to go to Israel the way Lana Del Rey’s fans did earlier this year when she announced she would be performing there. But, what happens when you refuse to hold that artist accountable—when a celebrity in a position of power stretches the limits of their fanbase’s loyalty?
Over the last year, Kanye West has aligned himself with Donald Trump. He has used his platform to endorse alt-right icon Candice Owens and say things like slavery was a choice (which he apologized for), or that civil rights icons like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are “just too far in the past and not relatable and that’s what makes them safe.” Last week, he called for the 13th amendment to be abolished, made a surprise visit to the The Fader offices in New York to read from a dictionary, and ended his SNL performance with a classic Kanye rant. The rant was cut from air due to time constraints, but Chris Rock’s Instagram captured Kanye doing his usual: spewing unfiltered and uninformed support for President Trump.
As if that wasn’t enough, Kanye visited the White House on Thursday to deliver a soliloquy in the Oval Office in front of Trump and the White House press pool. During the meeting, members of the press stood facing Kanye with their camera lenses pointed at a man who was once was a revered rapper and producer. When the meeting was over, Kanye stood up, hugged Trump and once again professed his love for the 45th president.
But, every time Kanye speaks—even to align himself with Donald Trump or problematic alt-right ideology—he speaks to a captive audience. He speaks to cameras and recorders, to reporters and fans taking in his every word.
Kanye is doing these things because he can. He wasn’t called out in The Fader’s offices. Celebrities have made attempts to reach out to him or criticize him on social media, but these efforts evidently haven’t stuck. In Talib Kweli’s May interview with Esquire, the frequent Kanye collaborator and hip-hop legend was still holding out hope for the old Kanye to come back. And we continue to see Kanye collaborating with some of the biggest names in the business, making appearances on Saturday Night Live, landing on Billboard’s Hot 100.
The only time someone has directly opposed Kanye to his face and on camera was in May when Van Lathan of TMZ confronted him. Kanye had just made his slavery comment in front of the TMZ newsroom, and Van stood up and said: “I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought.”
He continued: “While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice.” He ended his rebuttal by telling Kanye, “Frankly I’m disappointed, I’m appalled and brother, I’m unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.” That moment in the TMZ newsroom went viral and circulated on social media as Van was praised for having the courage to stand up to Kanye.
While what he said took some courage, it’s important to realize Van didn’t fully hold Kanye accountable. Telling someone that they have morphed into something that isn’t real and that what they’re doing is the absence of thought is generously assuming a lot. Trump and his policies are real. Wearing a MAGA hat when you know what it represents is real and requires thought. There are no excuses left for Kanye. The more we continue to do so, the more we create an environment where Kanye will never be held accountable for what he does.
Van isn’t alone in his inability to fully hold Kanye accountable—most of us are partly guilty. Every time Kanye does something, people react with an, “Oh my god, Kanye.” The industry and culture continue to feign shock at his antics and support for Trump. But we know from his actions exactly who he is. Kanye, for years, has shown us his obsession with material items and power and casual misogyny. But fans refuse to see him for what he is. They make excuses.
This is especially difficult within the Black community, where Kanye, for so long, gave a voice to a lot of us. Kanye was one of us. And now, even as he does inexcusable things, we let him slide, like the weird uncle at the barbecue who says something problematic—we can’t cancel family. Kanye acknowledged this relationship with his supporters in a May interview with radio host Big Boy: “I feel like as a son and as a family member of the world, that is the reason why the world won’t let me go—cause I’m just a family member,” he said. “They might disagree with me on certain shit, but I’m they family. I’ve been here for 15 years, 18 years.” But what’s happening is that he’s taken advantage of that role and it’s not acceptable.
In a span of 10 years, Kanye lost his mom, got married, and became a father. Those events are life changing moments for anyone, famous or not. However, it has become easy to blame his marriage to Kim Kardashian for his behavior. A 2012 Noisey article went as far as to call Kim the “Satan Incarnate” as they pleaded with Kanye to leave her. In a May interview with The Breakfast Club, Snoop Dogg analyzed Kanye’s recent support of Trump as the result of not having black women in his life. “I hate to be black and white,” Snoop told the Breakfast Club. “There’s no black women in his life. Let’s just keep that 100. I got aunties that’ll put up with those big ol’ church hats on, ‘n—- what’s happening? What you on?’” It’s irresponsible to blame the Kardashians—or any woman—for Kanye’s behavior. In fact, Kim has publicly distanced herself from her husband’s political views.
Kanye has said so many irresponsible and harmful things that the blame has to start and end with the man himself. Kanye is 41-years-old and is the father of three black kids, all younger than 7-years-old. If he believes that the 13th amendment needs to be repealed, that’s on him. If he believes that slavery was a choice, that’s on him. If he believes the MAGA hat symbolizes love and that being a conservative black person makes him a free thinker, that’s on him. Kanye is a rich man with an abundance of material items at his disposal. He’s not the young go-hard rapper who wanted to make beats for Jay-Z. He is now this wealthy man who has so many resources and people around him that we can’t blame anyone but himself for his own ignorance. If you can afford two homes and to give your wife a $1 million check as a mother’s day gift, then you can afford to buy books and educate yourself on the inner political workings of this country.
Next month, Kanye is due to release his second solo album this year, Yandhi. Featured collaborators are everyone from legends like Kid Cudi, Rihanna, and Young Thug to people like 6ix9ine, who pleaded guilty to use of a child in a sexual performance, and the late XXXTentacion who, before his death, was awaiting trial for brutally beating his then-pregnant girlfriend. If Kanye’s last project is anything to go by, Yandhi will not be good enough to atone for the things he’s said. Kanye could link up with Jay-Z again and make Watch the Throne 2 and it still wouldn’t be good enough to reverse he damage he’s done to the culture. Kanye cannot return from this. As hard as it is for fans to accept, there’s no more separating the art from the artist. The art is made by the artist. As 2018 comes to a close and we approach 2019 and a possible Trump re-election in 2020, now is the time to realize this and act.
Most of us, obviously, don’t have Talib Kweli’s or Snoop Dogg’s level of fame and don’t have direct immediate access to Kanye. The only thing to do is stop giving Kanye your money and time. Don’t buy the music or stream it. Don’t buy the clothes. Don’t buy tickets to see the tours. Don’t retweet the tweets or quote tweet them with something witty. Put the power back in your hands and stop letting him abuse your loyalty. It’s your right.