I am not black, and will never understand the extreme suffering and oppression that African Americans have suffered over the last four centuries. I have engaged with black art and black culture, and in my studies in music at university, learned more about the rich but troubled way that jazz, the blues, rock n roll and especially hip-hop changed the pathways of unfurling history.
As a scholar of music, here’s what I will say: To be as influential as Kanye West is rare for any musician, and this is no coincidence. The man is a genius and his music is emblematic of a mind that processes knowledge and sparks originality with the frequency and ease of breath itself. Paired with an absolute conviction to his ideas, you find a musical force so innovative, you’d have to look back to the likes of muddy waters, Les Paul or Aretha Franklin to find an analogue.
From the art, to the artist: Kanye West (Now Ye) is controversial and provocative in ways that make his most unorthodox music look quite tame. From when he started publicly supporting Donald Trump, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat to his presidential run and then a series of public outbursts online following his split with Kim Kardashian, Ye has made quite the habit of preaching a gospel that strays sharply from the realm of A-list narratives.
This reached an unprecedented apex, recently with a series of events that took the man’s behaviour from bizarre to disturbing and possibly seditious.
Consider these tweets:
“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,”
“The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”
The ever-edgy Elon Musk himself took issue with this and stated publicly that he had reached out to Ye and that Ye had taken what he said “to heart”. This is also telling of Musk’s assumed authority on Twitter which he can’t seem to decide on buying or not.
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Obviously, there is a soapbox for every voice, and the soapbox that found itself at the feet of Ye in this period, following his Paris Fashion Week release of a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt, was Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
For those familiar with Carlson and his manner, it will come as a slight shock that the conservative messiah was near-mute in this interaction—I do not invoke the biblical unjustifiably. Kanye waxed poetic, often lyrical on his views, unhindered by the subservient Tucker Carlson, who giggled like a schoolgirl to punctuate what can only be described as “I Have A Dream” from beyond the looking glass.
Let’s start with the slightly worn out talking point of the fear of being a Trump supporter, where Kanye revealed he was told he’d be killed, or “greenlit”. Not threatened, mind you, just informed of the significance of being influential in and loved by the black community and supporting ‘The First White President’(as described by Ta-Nehesi Coates).
Trump, endorsed by the KKK and more, is a symbol of everything that continues to hurt Black America. This includes the narrative that slavery was a choice, and the role that Trump and his father have played in the gentrification of Manhattan and New York.
After these opening remarks, the humble genius went on to compare himself to David facing Goliath (the media) in being allowed to speak his truth. He then spent about 7 minutes making statements so self-contradictory, they deserve some sort of literary recognition: He alludes to his father, repeatedly qualifying him with the prefix ‘educated’, going on to describe higher education as a plot to segregate black people within themselves along the lines of education.
Noteworthy also is the ambiguity of who ‘they’ is, as this is, in most systems of belief, a signifier of racial oppression by white governance. He draws parallels between him and his father not being able to see their children, and Ye, interestingly, talks around the public harassment he enacted upon his ex-wife and her new partner, Pete Davidson (or “Skete”).
He speaks to black excellence being suppressed, again, by white people, and then, inanely, ties the solution to this to a second trump presidency. This begets an opinion that is quite unprintable in a public forum. Focusing in on this segment is his notion of a “BLM Office Manager”- An influential black person put in a place of prominence for said company to gain appeal (and control) of black youth.
He describes Barack Obama as the best BLM office manager in history, which is…a choice of words. He says this is harmful and against a system of rightful merit, which, needless to say, is a talking point dating back to the end of segregation in America, bringing women into the workforce and, more recently, the questions of minority representation in queer media.
Divisive was his 2020 presidential run. Controversial was his alignment with Trump. This string of events falls in line with the Andrew Tates and Joe Rogans of the world. It is dangerous, gives insecure (often young) minds a warped idea of a history they’ll never know and shows a man grappling to define himself in the absence of hype over his last album.
His mental health issues must be acknowleged, but not as justification. There is much to be said about living with Bipolar disorder, and many in the public eye do (like Halsey), and manage not to incite hate and justify oppression.
He quotes the Bible, and his pro-life stance, multiple times; these, I will leave open to interpretation and untouched, as strong annoyance might well morph into rage. This is not power I wish for Tucker and Ye to have over me.
There is a quote that applies well here:
Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice ― or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?
Hearken back to that quote: Ye has arguably become an extremist for the preservation of injustice, and it is feeding into lines of thought that can and will lead to violence and further injustice.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Ye, presenting an evocative silhouette at a performance . Featured Photo Credit: Axel Antas-Bergkvist from UnsplashUnsplash