“I am one with the people,” Kanye emotionally sang on The Life of Pablo’s most recent addition, “Saint Pablo.” His latest incidents beg to differ.
Kanye West is in a free fall. Seemingly every word that comes out of his mouth contributes to his dwindling public image. But according to him, his “public well-standing” is the least of his worries—he’s worried about you; he’s worried about us. So he claims at least.
By now I’m sure you’re aware of the most recent edition of the Kanye West Chronicles: The Life of The Disconnected and Famous—a series of outlandish statements testing our relationship’s elasticity. Throughout it all, we’ve weathered the storm; we’ve remained devoted.
Taking the stage at San Jose’s SAP Center for the second leg of his Saint Pablo tour on 11/17, Kanye announced some controversial news: had he voted, he would’ve supported Trump. His comments were received with an unfamiliar response: boos. Regardless of Kanye’s star power or influence, his loyal fanbase has a limit; we have a limit—Trump is that limit.
Two days after this depressing reveal, Kanye took to his floating stage in Sacramento. Despite his 90-minute delayed arrival, fans were willing to let him redeem himself. We’re so appreciative for the beautiful music he’s supplied us throughout the years; no one wanted to believe that ranting Trump supporter was our beloved Yeezy. The concert started off routinely: greeting the audience with “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” performing two more songs and then ranting—classic Kanye. While this rant retained conventional Kanye elements (bravado; bold claims), the content severely swung the scales of justice from “oh it’s just Ye being Ye” to “who the fuck is this guy and what did he do with my Kanye?” “Missing Kanye” signs littered the Sacramento parking lot later that night.
Whether he intended it to be or not, this was Kanye’s “Almost Famous moment.” His suspended stage was his roof; the Golden 1 Center’s audience was his support source. However, he wasn’t connecting to gushing fans at a high school house party—he distanced himself through being disconnected from reality. Our “savior,” attempted to relate to the people by ripping down American pillars and studs to present a bare-bone, transparent landscape of “what’s really going on.”
West issued a barrage of accusations at the radio/MTV, Beyonce, Jay Z, the Democratic party, Hillary, Mark Zuckerberg, Q-Tip—just about every major industry player—for essentially being naïve sheep, inhibiting overall growth; suggesting that his vision will solve life’s despairing problems. "I ain't here to massage you with the fake truth, telling you that Hillary going to win over and over and over. Then you wake up and you still can't believe it. You know why? Because you was lied to by Google. You was lied to by Mark Zuckerberg,” Kanye announced. After this 17-minute rant concluded, so did the performance—a 32-minute concert. Kanye’s 90-minute delay tripled the show’s duration. But he’s a man of the people, right?
In Kanye’s eyes, he’s looking out for the public’s best interests. He’s encouraging progression and for everyone to “wake up.” While he’s teetering on the edge of delusion, his pro Trump stance sheds some truth on America: we took the plight of the middle class for granted. Everything that Bernie warned us about, everything that Trump campaigned for (and is apparently now contradicting), came shockingly true: the American middle class yearned to be heard. Their perceived disenfranchisement held establishment at gunpoint—Trump’s victory pulled the trigger. Liberal America was astonished. So in fairness to Kanye, he’s right about needing to wake up and reevaluate our position. However, his execution was poor. If he’d said, “I understand aspects of Trump’s campaign and we need to reconsider America’s direction,” that probably would’ve fared better than declaring outright Trump patronage.
This election result is still so raw, and will probably continue to be throughout his presidency. Trump has become synonymous with hate. If you claim to not be bigoted and voted for him, I’m sorry, but you’re a bigot. Let’s be real, you knew what his campaign thrived on. Even if you said, “I voted for him to re-establish the middle class,” you’ve either (A), been conned or (B), you’re decisively saying that racism wasn’t a deal breaker in the election. You’re just as racist as those wearing white hoods.
Despite Kanye’s San José statement, “That don't mean that I don't think that black lives matter. That don't mean that I don't believe in women's rights. That don't mean that I don't [believe] in gay marriage. That don't mean that I don't believe in these things because that's the guy that I wanted to vote for,” the blinding association of Trump’s image with bigotry eclipses all other viewpoints. And who are we kidding? Trump is an unqualified buffoon posing as our leader; a charlatan. So when Kanye announced his Trump allegiance, all anyone could see was a bigot; a supporter of ignorance; a delusional being. People revere and respect Vic Mensa’s outspoken anti-Trump campaign; people are hurt and shocked by Ye’s stance.
Call me a Kanye Stan, but I know in my heart that he didn't intend any ill will by these statements. I honestly think that he believes he’s helping us; warning us; saving us, if you will. “I'm not trying to be the man, I'm just a man…The same as everybody here. I ain't above or below none of y'all. We all equal. This is the vibes, bro. This is the future. This is the way of thinking to make America great again,” he ironically said while standing above everyone on his elevated stage. But the reality is, he can’t relate to us normal people—and that’s not a bad thing at all.
Kanye is a struggle rapper. His admirable work ethic and seemingly infinite gripes have produced incredible music, allowing him to finally reach the top—the place he struggled so hard to get to. But Kanye, here’s the thing: you made it! Relish that! You are what you claim to be: an innovative musical genius. Your fanbase, we the normal folk, we’re not musical geniuses and aren’t constantly in the limelight, making it impossible for us to relate. One of the biggest joys that you offer is an escape from our problems and lives. Your music is beautiful. We buy your concert tickets months in advance with money that we don’t have to run from our own struggles. You remember what pedestrian struggles are, right? So when you highjack a show for your own agenda, you’re cheating us. You try to get down on one knee, look us in the eye as equals, when in reality, you’re narcissistically assuming we want to hear your quasi politics. Let me clue you in on a secret: we don’t. If you feel that passionately about an issue, use other mediums to voice your opinion: Twitter, Tumblr, anything but your whole concert. I’m not necessarily against your rants, but at least play something, man. We want to get lost in your music; incite mosh pits under your stage; forget for a second that we have to wake up and continue the cycle of bullshit that has consumed our lives. You’re depriving the very same people you claim to save.
I think a lot of people right now are missing “the old Kanye.” Our relationship has been tested this past week. His Trump remarks, coupled with cancelling Sunday’s make-up LA Forum show and scrapping the Saint Pablo tour’s remainder, have raised eyebrows. I would never defend a Trump supporter—it’s simply wrong. I will however say that at Yeezy’s core, he is a good person who is trying to perform a public service. Kanye is as misunderstood as his approach is misguided. His intentions are pure, but are ostensibly always poorly conveyed. He is his own biggest enemy. I genuinely believe that he’s worried about us and our future, and wants to use his voice to help. He is running for the 2020 presidency after all…
It’ll take some time for the stink of this to wash off, but I assume that it will. Kanye will receive media backlash, reveal his thoughts via Twitter, be featured on a few tracks and eventually issue another cataclysmic body of work. It’s become his cycle. It doesn’t have to be though. He can more eloquently formulate his reasoning to better appeal to and represent his supporters, abandoning the constant need to defend him. However, until he irreversibly screws up, I’ll have his back. But damn does he make it difficult sometimes.