Jesse Harrison Lowe takes a deeper look into the recent comments from Kanye West
Kanye has always been on a different level to everyone else. From the Taylor Swift incident to the George Bush call out, Ye sees things in a different way to many of us.
As a bit of a disclaimer before I begin the rest of this article, I would like to make it clear that I do not support nor agree with Kanye’s recent comments regarding African American history or his relationship with Donald Trump. Rather, this article is aiming to bring a new approach to the situation. For some, West’s comments are unforgivable and this article should not be viewed as an attempt to change any minds. However, I do think it’s worth discussing whether or not Kanye might have meant something different in his recent tweets about the president. The question on people’s lips has long been can you separate the man from the music? In some situations the answer is no. Hear me out as to why I think this situation calls for a yes.
“We haven’t seen him connect the dots”
This article is being written directly after watching the almost two-hour long interview by Charlemagne tha God and Kanye. Before we dive into the more intense stuff, I should mention that I am entirely biased on this subject. Kanye is one of my favourite artists and someone who I wilfully look for the best in what he’s saying. The recent outbursts from Kanye have put many fans in a difficult position. Many, myself included, have been caught between wanting to support an artist but not wanting to support some of the things they have said. Recent comments on TMZ regarding slavery within African American history particularly stand out as highly controversial. This being said, I think a further exploration of Kanye’s comments regarding Donald Trump, are worthwhile.
I get the impression that Kanye is stuck in a perpetual loop of not explaining himself. His interview with TMZ and the tweets which had to backtrack shows us this perfectly. He lives in a state of mind where he completely understands what he is talking about. As a viewer, I would argue that the issue we have is that we’re not inside his head. We haven’t seen him connect the dots before he starts discussing slavery, in this example. It’s not the only time he’s done it. The Taylor Swift thing was another example of how West skipped forward in his head, acted rashly, then had to retrospectively explain why he did what he did. I think most people have been in that position, where you think of how things link together and then vocalise them on a platform, before having to justify your thought process. I believe that Ye does this, but on a much bigger scale. His post-TMZ tweets talk us through his thinking behind the slavery rant. Maybe had he talked us through these before he began the interview, the situation would have been different. Whilst for many of his fans, this is not enough, it could be seen that these tweets offer some kind of thinking behind the madness. The leaps he takes are undoubtedly massive, and without proper explanation, do look weird. I think that once we understand his justification it becomes easier to accept, or at the very least, understand.
Ye’s online comments put him in a position which made it look like he endorsed the President’s highly controversial style, and even garnered a quote reply from Trump himself and members of the Trump family. Initially, I was surprised to see Kanye offer any support to Trump. Their aims seem to juxtapose one another, and aside from being pretty damn wealthy, I see nothing that would suggest the two have similar goals in life. Many outlets across the political spectrum have responded to Kanye’s comments. Some in a bid to cast further questions surrounding Kanye’s mental health, some to praise him for aligning with the right, and some to call him out for endorsing an alleged pussy-grabber.
I can only speak on what I have seen, and I believe that many have missed the point which Kanye is making. During the interview with Charlemagne tha God, Ye speaks to this point and outlines that his support for Trump does not stem from his political position and actions, but rather comes from the admiration of an underdog who succeeded in a position where no one expected him to.
Ye has always considered himself someone who defied the odds. He wasn’t supposed to rap again after getting his jaw wired shut. The Yeezy clothing line wasn’t supposed to sell like it has. The 350 wasn’t supposed to shut down stores in the way they did. Kanye sees himself as the one who made it. The typical kid who was never meant to realise his dream.
You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018
It’s this specific quality that I believe Ye has seen in Trump. Nothing more, nothing less. Trump was never expected beat Clinton and for many was seen as a joke that he was even on the ballot. Kanye has been in that position, and I believe sees something of himself Trump, through the way that they both managed to achieve what they set out to, despite the odds being against them. Yet again, Kanye failed to properly that this is what draws him to Trump. It’s about the never-say-die attitude, not the the political positions.
In this interview, Kanye goes further. He details the way in which he is excited by the non-traditional. Long-time friend Virgil Abloh’s move to Louis Vuitton, for example, is something which demonstrates that times are changing. The move of a conceptual-architect-come-streetwear-guru to one of the most famous fashion houses in the world signals the changing world we live in. For Kanye, who doesn’t want to be labelled as just a ‘rapper’ or a ‘producer’ or a ‘fashion designer’, the perceived change in social atmosphere opens up a world where he can be the Kanye he truly wants to be. Rather than being forced into one box or the other. In a world where someone like Trump can become president, Kanye is free to design, rap, create homes and offer humanitarian aid. Is this for the greater good? That’s up to you to decide.
In his interview with Charlemagne, Ye briefly mentions how ‘‘the Ye version would be the Trump Campaign and the Bernie Sanders principles”. This is what I was hoping he meant all along. Ye ‘feels the non-conventional’ and it’s this side of things which he is celebrating. When drawn into commenting, Ye doesn’t seem to offer a shred of support for the political accomplishments of Trump. The style of the campaign is what Kanye supports. I think we can all find it reassuring that this is the case, as it puts to bed the concerns of many. John Legend and T.I, to name two, have been quick to raise their concerns over Ye’s support. Both have been rebutted with a clear sign that there is a distinction between the politics and the campaign. Whilst some might not be able to make this separation, I believe that the fact that Kanye has offers some comfort for his fans who are attempting to make sense of these tweets.
“Long-time friend Virgil Abloh’s move to Louis Vuitton, for example, is something which demonstrates that times are changing.”
In the same way that West has separated political accomplishments from the method of getting there, I believe that fans of Kanye will be able to separate the man from these comments, or at the very least, have an understanding of where the comments came from. Before we accept what people like Kanye say, maybe it’s worth waiting a second, taking a step back, and considering what layers might exist to what they’re saying. On the surface, Ye’s support of Trump seems counterintuitive. However, once we think a little deeper into what brings the two together, perhaps we discover that there’s more than meets the eye.