Kanye… I have refrained from commenting on this man, because like many things I find are not good for me or my spirit, I excuse myself from. For a while now, I believed that we as an audience need to do the opposite of what he wants, which is to not watch him or give him the attention he so desperately desires.
When Kanye came on the scene in 2004 with ‘Through the Wire’, he set the tone for the type of rapper he was. He wasn’t a gangsta, he didn’t talk about selling drugs or ‘the hustle’. Kanye came through at a time when ‘Gangsta Rap’ was all that black rappers were. He showed the world just how deep and thoughtful the ‘black experience’ could be. He gave us lines like, ‘how do you console my mom or give her life support telling her her son’s on life support?’ Lines like these and others told stories with meaning whilst we bobbed our heads to the great beat. In ‘Jesus Walks’ he talked about the irony of the music business;
‘We rappers are role models we rap we don’t think’
‘They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tape
But if I talk about God my record won’t get played. Huh?’
He then further lamented on police brutality in the black community, which is still a major problem today, and the reason for the forming of Black Lives Matter;
‘Getting choked by detectives yeah, yeah, now check the method
They be asking us questions, harass, and arrest us’
In ‘All Falls Down’, Kanye tackled some of the problems facing the African American community and held a mirror up to it and them!
‘I say fuck the police, that’s how I treat em
We buy our way out of jail, but we can’t buy freedom’
‘We’ll buy a lot of clothes when we don’t really need em’
Things we buy to cover up what’s inside’…
Mass incarceration, financial debt, PTSD the list goes on. Then he did the thing that no one was willing to do, but we all (the black community) believed it of the President and the administration at the time.
“George Bush hates Black People”.
Rang out for days on national and international TV. Our mouths and eyes were open for dayz. No protocol, just keeping it real, the truth. Respect for the rule-breaker was officially born.
But now Kanye seems to be happy to sell all that respect for his individualism, integrity, truth for… I don’t know. But maybe the answers still lay in his music.
In the song ‘Gold Digger’ from Kanye’s second album, ‘Late Registration’ there’s a line that resonates with a lot of black women, particularly when discussing successful black men;
‘And when he get on’, leave your ass for a white girl’
Yep, that’s exactly what Kanye did. After 21 Grammy awards, top 100 most influential people. The ‘Louis Vitton Don’ went on to marry Kim Kardashian. With all attempts and purpose, a white girl. Whilst many have blamed Kim and their union as the reason for Kanye’s downfall, the pot had already been boiling.
According to Kanye’s first girlfriend, Britteny Crittendon, “For Kanye, what other person besides Kim Kardashian is there? …She fits into his brand. Part of being untouchable is having what other people want”…
‘Cause fuck it, I went to Jacob with 25 thou
Before I had a house and I’d do it again
Cause I wanna be on 106 and Park pushing a Benz
I wanna act ballerific like it’s all terrific
I got a couple past due bills, I won’t get specific
I got a problem with spending before I get it’…
In All Falls Down, Kanye was not just honest about his community, but about the struggles, he shared with them. He like many in the community have been so affected by the poverty they lived in and being outsiders to a world, a club that they could never join and could only dream of, that it made them ignorant enough to spend money they didn’t have, just to make themselves feel like somebody. He doesn’t want to be an outsider again.
‘I went to Jacob with 25 thou
Before I had a house and I’d do it again’
‘We all self-conscious I’m just the first to admit it’.
And of course, we can’t forget the massive effect the death of his mother had on him too. Many would argue this was the origin of his trauma.
As I listened to Kanye’s rant on the un-televised section of SNL, he said something really poignant for me. He said Trump was a great man, because ‘he’s a billionaire’… I was thinking, so! But there it was, Kanye was in the sunken place, but not placed in there by his white wife, but by his own demons.
”You got sick thoughts? I got more of ’em. You got a sister-in-law you would smash? I got four of ’em.
”Damn…those are your sisters? You did something unholy to them pictures.
”Damn, you need to be locked up! Nah, we need a bigger hot tub.’’
With this and the revelation of some of Kanye’s newer lyrics, it’s clear to me that he is not the same person he once was and is in effect suffering. He is still that poor thinking black boy from the outside looking into the exclusive club he so desperately wanted to be apart of, that he was willing to hurt and exploit his own community for his PR driven antics and money centred decisions. I could not and would not support it. Not even his critically acclaimed Sunday Service or bi-polar diagnose could make me forget all that he had done, ‘slavery was a choice’, agreeing with everything Candice Owen said and not to mention wanting a repeal of the 13tht Amendment?! I wanted to remind Kanye of the parable of OJ Simpson. Who once forgot he was black and just wanted to be ‘OJ’, but soon came back flashing that ‘black card’ when he was on trial for murder. As a possible divorce may be pending, like OJ, Kanye may soon find out that you can only use the black community so much.