A few months ago, Kanye West broke the Internet when he unleashed a slew of tweets proclaiming his support for President Trump. Fans, fellow artists and citizens alike were incensed. It wasn’t just that people found out that Kanye is a Trump supporter — after all, this isn't the first time he's alluded to it. It’s that he posted pictures in a MAGA hat and seemed to be going out of his way to publicly align himself with someone who many consider to be a symbol of division and hatred. He also, oddly, decided to take a jab at former President Obama during his Twitter rant.
Then, more pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. Kanye made a notorious appearance on TMZ, in which he went on about his practice of “free thought,” among other more controversial statements. Also, in an interview with radio personality Charlemagne Tha God, he declared that, for him, "racism is not the deal-breaker.”
More recently, Kanye appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and when the Trump outburst inevitably became a topic of conversation, the creative mastermind mentioned his refusal to be bullied and the revival of his confidence. In essence, he was saying, no one tells Kanye what to do or how to think — not the liberals, not the hip-hop community, no one.
It’s understandable. None of us like to be pressured into decisions or have our voice silenced. However, these types of responses to logical questions about the reasoning behind his stance imply that, for Kanye, this is about proving a point. This is about showing everyone that they cannot control him. He seems to be going against the grain without concern for (and possibly, even, because of) the reaction that doing so will evoke.
Like when a child refuses to brush his teeth simply because he knows it’s what you want him to do, he’s flexing. Statement made, Mr. West.
What doesn’t appear to be registering with Kanye is that there is little concern about his party affiliation. This isn’t about democrats vs. republicans, liberals vs. conservatives or black vs. white. The major and most disheartening concern lies specifically with his support of this particular president. A president widely viewed as a harmful foe and not an ally of or advocate for the people as a whole.
Kanye said himself that he doesn’t get into politics and therefore his position is not based on policy. The roots of his unwavering Trump support seem to be planted in defiance since the most pressing question has yet to be truly answered – Why?
In a song released shortly after the controversy ensued, "Ye vs. The People," Kanye attempted to offer some perspective as he lyrically debated with rapper T.I. regarding Trump and the concept of Make America Great Again. Unfortunately, his rhymes fall short in accomplishing this goal. To be clear, an explanation is owed to none of us. Kanye may very well have the best of intentions. He may have viable reasons for his alliance with the most polarizing president of his lifetime. We just have yet to hear any.
Perhaps Kanye is, in fact, demonstrating the highest levels of fearless expression and mental freedom. Or, maybe he is a prisoner of his own rebellious mind.