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The problem with Kanye West (if there is one)

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Kanye West has never been one to shy away from controversy or as his wife Kim Kardashian put it, "will never run in the race of popular opinion."

And it's true. The following tweet was typed out just last week, amongst a frenzy of controversial posts.

 

The thing is, do we actually believe it all? It's not like Kanye West fans (including myself) haven't always known the hip hop star to be already a totally paranoid, egotistical and delusional narcissist. West has previosuly compared himself to God with a song LITERALLY titled 'I am a God' in an album named Yeezus. He boldly told Wendy Williams on her show back in 2007 "I am the number one human being in music. That means any person that's living or breathing is number two."

'Ye' even announced that he'd be running for president in 2020. Though, the most relatable thing he's stated was probably when he told Reuturs in 2009: "sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books."

Word, man. Word. Wish I could tell my seminar tutor the same.

Yet since his return to Twitter on the 14th after a year-long hiatus, let's just say... it's been an emotional rollercoaster for us all. Kanye really hit us with what can only be described as a "bountiful harvest of thought-provoking information". Alongside some obtuse statements and classically Kanye "Kanye-isms", on the music front, he already announced the release date of his eighth studio album, a collaborative piece with Kid Cudi, drop-dates of records by artists like Nas, Pusha T and Teyana Taylor, all in the space of 24 hours. Phew.

But being a fan of Kanye's has always required a level of engagement, and if there's something I know about narcissists - there's no way of getting through to them. You can't dismantle their being. Plus, as Barack Obama so beautifully put it, Kanye can be kind of a "jackass".

His extraordinary talent and exceptional artistery has always outweighted his...schemes? From his questionable statements (tweeting "BILL COSBY INNOCENT!!!!!" and then including a wax figure of him in his 'Famous' music video, sparking outrage once again) to his scandals with Taylor Swift, to being late to concerts and facing the audience with uncomfortable rants, like at the Big Chill Festival in 2011 when he said:

“I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street and people look at me like I'm f--king insane, like I'm Hitler. One day the light will shine through, and one day people will understand everything I ever did."

But people are surprised for some reason?

This isn't 2011 anymore. And we now live in a far more politically intense, polarized, explosive, Trumpian times, so his latest expression of 'support' for the latest President of the United States and his "MAGA" ethoes ('Make America Great Again', not the resort town on the Spanish island of Majorca, Magaluf, like I thought) and the frequent mentioning of the 'thought-police' with the general concept of 'free-thinking' during an ongoing, multiday Twitter tirade - has lowkey surpassed all previous instances of "Kanye-isms" therefore, has not been very well received. 

Reactions have varied but can vaguely be summed up as dumbfounded, stunned frustration from the left and wild enthusiasm from the right. Publications like Gal-dem expressed their dissapointment and feeling of betrayal with "The Problem with Kanye West", rightfully pointing out that his first two albums The College Drop Out and Late Registration were "filled with skits and songs openly referencing racism and the oppression of black people". Others simply expected him to know better given that West has two daughters and a transgender parent-in-law.

Whereas fans are quick to mention that Kanye West has always said what's on his mind, who can forget when he dauntlessly announced to America that "George Bush doesn't care about Black People" during NBCUniversal's 'A Concert for Hurricane Relief' on Sept. 2, 2005.

Kanye West is afflicted with a condition that's extremely rare in Hollywood and general society, he's not blinded by ideology, or giving into it. If he were, he'd be doing the same as most celebrities right now, calling for Trump to get chucked out the White House and automatically assuming that everyone is on the same page. Instead, West has stepped away from the echo chamber and looked at the actual impact of policies... or so we'd like to think. When the truth is, just like I thought, he knows nothing at all.

 

Grandiose narcissists have a penchant for fascism. Professor Jeffrey Q. McCune told Pitchfork in a recent interview that we have a pop cultural figure amongst us with profound genius, entrapped in an iconography, in a moment where everything he says is framed inside the pop diagnoses of "crazy" and that is where the Kardashians come in. Kim Kardashian West is quick to defend her husband when tweeting "Mental health is no joke and the media needs to stop spitting that out so casually. Bottom Line". And she's right. Whether or not you agree with West's posts, accusing him of having a psychological disorder insults those who actually have one as well as spreading misinformation about those actually living with depression, bipolar disorder or any other kind of condition. 

The only thing Kanye really does suffer from is Trump-itus. The wonder of Kanye has always been the extent to which he gets away with it. This, in fact, is another similarity West shares with the president, a free pass that has everything to do with each man’s place in society.

Their biggest similarity is probably simply that they’re both narcissists with immense power given by their wealthy privilege. Whether being a politician or a rapper that designs shoes, an extremely famous person is publicly flirting with toxic ideologies. And of course fans should feel free to call him out and criticise it, and not excuse him for it because he’s good at clothes or music or might have a mental illness. Kanye won’t take kindly to it. But that’s fine. As usual "he's lost in translation with the whole nation", maybe that’s inevitable when you have all that power.

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