Kanye Ain’t Crazy: Refuting Rhetoric Born out of White Supremacy

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Back in 2014, post the release of Yeezus Kanye did a press run to promote the Yeezus tour. This was probably one of the most interesting press runs I’ve ever seen. Press run conversations normally consist of “I have (insert item for sale) for sale. You can give me your money for it (insert date item is for sale), it’ll cost (insert price here).” Cue post-promotional small talk, close with more promotional talk, close curtains. That’s not what this was at all. Kanye talked about nearly everything except a particular product he was plugging– glass ceilings, the false stability of the entertainment industry, self-hate, classism, how major industries are owned and controlled by very few individuals…everything. The responses from interviewers and a significant portion of the public seemed to be about the same: “Why is he so concerned with money?” or “We only care about your music.” In those two responses lie two major problems.

“Oh niggas is skeptical when it’s their own shit/You bought 9 iPhones and Steve Jobs is rich/Phil Knight worth trillions you still bought those kicks/Spotify is 9 billion they ain’t say shit/Lucy you got some splaining to do/The only one they hating on look the same as you/That’s cool, I know they trying to bamboozle you/Spending millions on media trying to confuse you/I had to talk to myself, Hov you used to it/It’s politics as usual”
-Jay-Z “Stream of Consciousness”

Drapetomania is a condition created by American physician Samuel A Cartwright in 1851. According to Cartwright, Drapetomania was the mental illness that made slaves seek freedom. Yes, you read that correctly, slaves who sought freedom were considered mentally ill. Apparently over 150 years later not much has changed. Power 105.1 The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne the God asked Kanye why he was so focused on money, saying how he used to view him as a revolutionary, and other revolutionaries like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King weren’t wealthy. He was right. They weren’t. When Martin Luther King found himself in jail for non-violent protests, he needed financial help from people like entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte to bail him out. When Malcolm X was assassinated, his widow Betty Shabazz was left homeless and broke with his children. “Revolution” is expensive. Jay-Z’s Tidal, the same Tidal Kanye chose to release his latest album The Life of Pablo exclusively through, the same Tidal Kanye contains an ownership stake in, came to the aid of modern day activists by combining with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to donate $1.5 million. Yet and still, many Black people have joined in on the chorus of jeers aimed at Tidal, led mainly by mainstream tech blogs (possibly in the pockets of Spotify/Apple) due to the fact artists like Jay-Z and Kanye are “already rich” while Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek fatten their pockets worry free. We (non-model minorities) have been conditioned to view money as evil, even more so in possession of those that look like us. How can we seek freedom in a world where nothing is free with no money? We can’t even count on our government to provide clean water. Water costs. If artists like Meek Mill or Game weren’t “so focused on money,” what would that situation look like?

kanye-west-college-dropout-410-410The funny thing is people fail to realize Kanye West was Kanye West from the very beginning. Maybe they just thought College Dropout was a cute little title speaking to those who never got their bachelor’s degree, but that’s not how I took it at all. College Dropout was about not following the path we’re taught will save us. No matter how “well dressed” Kanye was during that period, College Dropout and the two albums that followed in sequence and theme (Late Registration, Graduation) were very anti-respectability politics, clashing against the belief that if you get a college degree and be a decent negro, everything will be alright. When he said it via the music, everything was fine… it’s just entertainment, right? When Kanye started being vocal outside of the music and refusing to stay in his lane, then he became “crazy.”

“Once You’re Tagged Lame, the Game Is Follow the Leader”

Once Kanye became “crazy” everything he does is “crazy.” Backstage at SNL, he refers to Taylor Swift as “fake,” he’s crazy! Didn’t she Ok his song lyrics, then go on to give a speech at the Grammys speaking against his song lyrics…isn’t that sort of fake? Kanye suggests billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg who claim to love his music support his ventures via Twitter; he’s crazy. While Facebook may have been the better outlet to reach out to Mark Zuckerberg, essentially Kanye is just talking business on social media. Kanye uses social media to talk business and his aspirations…he’s crazy. Others use social media to call Kanye crazy, no problem. Kanye gets loud with MTV’s Sway; he’s crazy! Had someone tried to tell you what you should do when you lost millions of dollars already trying to do it, you might get loud too. Kanye disses Amber Rose in public; he’s sexist and crazy! While any reference to Amber Rose by Kanye at this point is unnecessary, it’s funny how so-called progressives call Kanye out for talking about Amber Rose but celebrated Amber’s use of society’s homophobia in an attempt to embarrass Kanye. Is Kanye flawed? Of course. Kanye himself has had no problem admitting he has made some mistakes. Making mistakes and being crazy are two different things, however. Labeling someone “crazy” is an attempt to discredit them completely. We should be more careful of throwing that term around, and we should question the motives of others when they use it.

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Eastside Long Beach's finest. Co-Host of Reality is Real Radio on 90.7 FM Los Angeles, Every Thursday night/Friday morning at Midnight. Host of "Cleats, Dimes and Strikes" and "The Rappity Rap Ass Podcast" @ Soundcloud.com/RealityisReal. Catch me on Twitter @ RisRBruce, on Facebook @ RisRBruce

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