Anybody who has followed the career of Kanye West knows that he’s one of the strangest and most interesting people in the entertainment industry. Between proclaiming that George Bush doesn’t care about black people and interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech, Ye has always gone above and beyond to attract attention in the most outrageous ways. However, his actions in recent months have left many fans feeling confused and betrayed.
In May, during an interview with TMZ, Kanye famously claimed that slavery “sounds like a choice,” and proceeded to post several tweets showing his admiration for President Trump. While some say his words were taken out of context, many fans were understandably upset; they felt as though West had turned his back on the black community that he had vocally supported his whole career. These actions left me confused, but I figured it was just Kanye pulling a stunt to gain publicity for his upcoming album, just like he has so many times in his career.
In June, Kanye dropped his eighth studio album, Ye, and for a while it seemed like all was forgiven. The seven-track album was a huge success and gave fans a deeper insight into the inner workings of his mind. The album’s brilliant production and vast range of subject matter reminded us what had made Kanye one of the most influential artists of the 21st century. Despite the success, his wild antics never stopped.
Last week while visiting the music magazine The Fader, West strangely rocked a MAGA hat and a Colin Kaepernick sweatshirt at the same time. This obviously confused many as Trump and Kaepernick have butted heads many times in the debate over kneeling for the national anthem, amongst other disagreements. Then on Saturday night Kanye provided us with what was probably the weirdest Saturday Night Live performance in the history of the show.
His show started off with Kanye and rapper Lil Pump performing their new collaboration “I Love It” while dressed as FIJI and Perrier bottles. Can you say cringeworthy? I mean seriously, Lil Pump trying to perform his part without autotune may have been the worst thing I have ever heard. Apart from the fact that the song genuinely sounded horrible, it was a strange song selection considering the abundance of beautifully-produced and mature songs he has released lately. It was definitely not what we were expecting from Kanye on one of the biggest stages in television.
What really caused his performance to make headlines was the spontaneous speech he gave at the end of the show. After he performed his hit song Ghost Town with Kid Cudi and 070 Shake, he went on a long, unexpected rant about his support for Donald Trump and the backlash he has received for expressing his views. Much of the speech was left off of television but Instagram stories from Chris Rock allowed us to see some of the parts that were excluded. Kanye appeared frustrated at the criticism he has received for both his support of Trump as well as his take on the idea that black people should be Democrats. “The blacks want always Democrats… you know it’s like the plan they did, to take the fathers out the home and put them on welfare… does anybody know about that? That’s a Democratic plan.” He then went on to say that he believes that people need to stop going after Trump so much and that treating people with love is a better option. I guess you could say it was the most Kanye thing that Kanye has ever done.
After his initial Trump comments, many questioned whether Kanye was suffering from mental health issues because his comments seemed so ridiculous and uncharacteristic. Kanye has gone on the record saying that he does not agree with most of Trump’s policies and that his support of him comes from “overcoming fear and doing what you felt no matter what anyone said.” If I am interpreting that correctly, I think he is trying to say that he is not going to support or oppose someone just because the general public thinks he should.
At the end of his speech he said that “If you want the world to move forward, try love,” in reference to the constant attacks toward Trump from people on the left. Trump has said a lot of horrible and divisive things and the hate he receives is perfectly justified. However, I think it is very refreshing to hear someone try spreading love and respect towards arguably the most controversial public figure in American history.
From my perspective, it seems that Kanye is at a place in his life where he wants to get rid of any hate and animosity he has had towards people in his life. Leading up to his last album, West revealed that he planned to feature plastic surgeon Jan Adams on the cover. Adams famously operated on West’s mother Donda West right before her sudden death in 2007. For years Adams was publicly blamed for her death, even though further reports dictated that it was really caused by poor postoperative care from West’s cousin. West first introduced the album cover in a tweet where he proclaimed, “I want to forgive and stop hating.” If this is true then perhaps Kanye had a similar sentiment for his support of Trump.
I don’t know Kanye. I have never met him and almost certainly never will. There is no way for me to know how Kanye thinks or what his intentions are. If he wants to go and support Trump then more power to him. His political beliefs have no impact on my life or my thoughts on his music. However, in the social media age, everyone has a voice and many people are letting it be known that they do not condone his recent behavior. More power to those people. If they disagree with him then their voices deserve to be heard as well. I just hope that if Kanye is suffering from mental health issues, then hopefully he can conquer his demons and continue to inspire us with his music.