By Austin Prim
SPOILER ALERT: I’m a Kanye West fan! Shocking, I know. I’ve been a fan of Ye since I was 14 years old. I was a fan of his person as well as his music. However, time has gone by, things have changed. While I’m still a fan of his music, the person is very hard to defend. I’ve learned how to separate the artist from the art because of him. Defending Ye after the Taylor Swift situation wasn’t the easiest thing to do at the time, but he released his best album a year later which backed me up. “Kanye to The” not really supporting President Obama, and falling out with Jay-Z & Beyoncé proved to be much more difficult to refute. However, his most recent antics regarding Trump and the irresponsible declaration that “slavery was a choice” pretty much lost me. You can only separate the art from the artist to a certain degree. We’ve learned this with the (long awaited) cancellation of R. Kelly. You can disagree with an artist’s personal views all you want, but if you continue supporting their music, it’s supporting them and providing them with financial opportunities to do the things you disagree with. And this is where my dilemma presents itself.
I love Kanye’s music. I even enjoyed Yeezus, more than most. But I vehemently disagree with most of the rhetoric he’s been spewing recently. This album he’s dropping next month is going to be a determining factor for my relationship with his music. Any other fans of his should be in the same boat. If the album is mediocre, just good or spewing more of the same ignorant “free thinking” ideas that he has been tweeting, then we have to cut him off. We cannot remain in support of someone who is in support of a president who hates us! The friend of my enemy is also my enemy. I understand Kanye’s reasoning behind some of the things he has done and said regarding Trump. However, we can no longer justify his stance as just being “too rich” or “free thinking”. It’s irresponsible, ignorant and incoherent honestly. No, Kanye supporting Trump is not the absolute end of the world. It’s not a crime. It’s just hurtful to the culture. It’s detrimental to our movement. The same person who said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people!” is now the same guy saying, “I love Trump!”. This can’t happen. He was a loud and proud black voice, unafraid to speak his mind and speak up for OUR issues. Now, his loud and proud voice is saying that OUR issues don’t exist. We can’t have this.
All this is to say, this next album has to be better than great. We forgave Kanye for the Taylor Swift incident after he dropped Runaway and the perfect album that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. We let his rants on his Yeezus tour slide when he gave us Ultralight Beam, Real Friends and the video for Fade. I believe most us want Kanye back and are hurt by the things he is saying because we love, or loved, his music so much. If he can get back to…and I hate that I’m about to say this…the “Old Kanye” and make a perfect, meaningful album, we may be able to forgive him once more. It’s going to be so much harder this time, so the album needs to be so much more innovative, creative, introspective, hit heavy, message filled, and all around enjoyable for any of us to forget his time in the sunken place.
If this was any other artist, I’d say this task was impossible. However, Kanye is honestly the greatest artist of our time. He’s a genius. He is maybe the only person who is talented and gifted enough to create an album so good that we completely forget all the nonsense he’s emitted.
There’s a theory that surfaced on twitter earlier this month saying that this whole Kanye on twitter, wearing the MAGA hat, and TMZ interview are actually a charade. That this whole past couple of months have been an elaborate performance art piece. @Snowcone965 tweeted a thread of the full theory and explanation on 5/2/18 at 10:07am if you wanted to read it, and I think you should. It’s very interesting and believable. Again, if this was any other artist, I wouldn’t pay this theory any mind. But, because this is Yeezy, it’s an extremely plausible idea that he is doing this all for show, and plans to turn everything on its head once the album drops. As a skeptic, it’s just a theory, and there’s a lot of moving pieces and variables that would have to take place for it to work properly. As a Ye fan, I truly hope that this is his way of innovating, creating and showing his genius once more.