Exploring the Bizarre Kanye Controversy
By Brandon Llamas
“Thank you Kanye, very cool!” said President Donald Trump via Twitter, in response to a Tweet made by artist Kanye West, in support of Trump’s “dragon energy”. Around the same time, West has been seen multiple times representing a signed “Make America Great Again” hat amidst his recent claims that slavery “sounds like a choice”, all in the wake of outbursts throughout his 2016 “Saint Pablo” tour protesting media misinformation and politicians poisoning the minds of the people.
To say the least, it is difficult to understand why he, an outspoken representative of minorities across the country, would back a politician so commonly associated with economic greed and white supremacy.
However, at the root of his statements, there seems to be less affiliation with the politics set in place by Trump, and more with the the ideology of doing something no one believed was possible, such as becoming the President of the United States with absolutely no prior political experience.
In fact, throughout the entirety of his Twitter feed, interview quotes, and overall public statements, West has made no mention of agreement with any of the policies put in place by Trump, and has even aligned with political policies originating from 2016 democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in a recent interview with radio host Charlamagne Tha God.
Speaking on his own upcoming presidential run, West said “Maybe the Trump’s campaign and maybe the Bernie Sanders principles. That would be my mix of stuff. But I think both are needed.”
In the second of two recently released singles, “Ye vs. the People (starring TI as the People)”, West and trap music powerhouse T.I. go back and forth in a legitimate political debate, where West speaks on his intentions in representing the POTUS’ merchandise: “Make America Great Again had a negative perception, I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction.”
T.I. responds, embodying the internal struggle of many of the artist’s former champions: “What you willing to lose for the point to be proved? This s*** is stubborn, selfish, bullheaded, even for you.”
Both artists present their arguments well, with T.I. holding a common belief that people in positions with large audiences must consider every way their actions will be interpreted, and West implying that his true intentions hold more weight than how they are perceived by the general public.
Aubri Lyn, a Novato High sophomore, encouraged freedom in political and ideological alignment in regards to the artist.
“I don’t think it should be relevant to his fans what his political or social beliefs are. Everyone has their reasons for their views, and even though I do not agree with Trump, he has aspects to him and ideas other than racism. Kanye never came out and said he specifically supported the bad aspects of him, either,” Lyn said.
Although, this advocacy is put to the test after a recent interview conducted with TMZ, where West claimed, "When you hear about slavery for 400 years… For 400 years? That sounds like a choice."
While it is easy to take this quote out of context, especially considering recent affiliations, he has elaborated upon this statement several times. To paraphrase, he is aware that slavery was involuntary, and was implying that social conditioning at this time, and today, kept many people in a victimized mindset that kept them from changing these dynamics before they did.
Chris Lindsey, a Novato High senior, had strong opinions on the topic of West’s outspoken nature on social media, and artists in general.
“He’s not obligated to tell his audience anything; he’s not obligated to share his political opinions. It would make him less than human. Artists, in general, aren’t obligated to do anything, so people are free to think what they want about Kanye, but, in the end, it shouldn’t affect him,” said Lindsey.
This situation mirrors one from over a decade ago, where, during an appearance on an NBC-broadcasted fundraiser, West went entirely off-script to deliver the quotable “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” His intentions to raise awareness for minority victims of the recent Hurricane Katrina were pure, but his execution shocked mainstream audiences.”
West’s actions are often believed to reflect his desire for attention; his eruptions are usually chalked up to publicity stunts, generating promotion for his musical releases. This makes making it easy to forget that he is, in fact, a person, as well as a celebrity.