Kanye West doesn’t like black people. This is somewhat the consensus as of late. After a lengthy hiatus from the public eye, The College Dropout artist resurfaced weeks before his current album Ye was due to release. In one schizophrenic week, he aligned himself with the likes of Candace Owens and a very problematic U.S. president; and claimed “slavery was a choice.” Whether or not exercising his freedom of choice and spewing inflammatory rhetoric were a stratagem for attention and album downloads, two things became hella clear. West is still with the shits--but this go ‘round, many black folks ain’t even here for it.
Yeezy used to love us for real; at least that’s what most of us thought as we rocked with him for several summers, through eight strong studio albums and a few magnificent collabs. Once upon a time, he was part, and parcel, of the quintessential black experience. He had a black mama, a part-time daddy and grew up with cousins--like a lot of other black people. He was ours. We appreciated the way his blackness fucked up white space. Ye snatching the mic and Taylor Swift’s edges at the MTV Awards show was epic. He showed peak negritude when he called out former President George W. Bush, for the blatant disregard of blacks devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. In return, we loved him hard for being an advocate, and for embracing the extra and commonplace blackness which is as real as every attempt to erase it.
Ye’s sanity came into question after the loss of his mother. In a dark twist of fate, Donda West died pursuing breast implants. We grieved with him and were concerned about his uncharacteristic behavior, but charged it to bereavement.
As his acts of hubris and misogyny grew more and more ridiculous, he stayed encouraged and so did we. We made more excuses for him, lifted him higher and over-consumed him. I mean--where else could we get lyrics bearing the nuances of our culture and the depravity buried in the recesses of our minds?:
“To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers, even the scrippers (Jesus walks for them). To the victims of welfare for we livin' in Hell here, hell yeah (Jesus walks for them)?” -Jesus Walks
Slowly, but surely, the shift in Ye revealed something rather peculiar: his own self-fulfilling prophecy--the desire to shelve blackness and ascend into whiteness. And though he has been "on" for over 10 years, like an ain’t shit n*gga, he left our ass for a white world--and not any white world, but one that fetishizes and exterminates all things black, including himself. While he’s out there living the The Life of Pablo and talking reckless, the people who lifted him into his celebrity stratosphere remain oppressed; particularly those in his hometown of Chicago. He showed us and them who he was when he played the race card during aTMZ interview:
“Black people have a tendency to focus and march when a white person kills a black person or wears a hat, but when it’s 700 kids being killed in Chicago it’s okay. It's okay for blacks to kill blacks,” West said in the clip. "There's been more focus and more marches on whites killing blacks than kids in Chicago killing each other."
That narrative is fake news. Many black activists and social justice groups do work to eradicate violence in black communities on a daily basis. It is not the kind of news that is highlighted often in the media. Kanye knows this. However, the very real news about his abandonment of Donda’s House, a non-profit organization started in his mother’s honor “to provide safe environment for young creatives ...,” is quite telling. Kanye knows this, too, and he has yet to speak on it.
Gone are the days of Ye being the voice of the people. Mr. West is now the poster boy for speaking white power to black truth. His “ways and actions are like those of a savage,” but thankfully, his transformation ain’t ours. These days, Kanye ain’t really saying much and finally most of us are done listening.
There’s nothing a 23-minute exploration of self-loathing in tandem with self-righteousness will do to redeem him. So on that note--buying Ye, bumping Ye or even riding for Ye gets the resounding NO.