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Social media is currently bullying Kanye West for saying he “would have” voted for Trump during his San Jose concert Thursday night. The obvious issue is that Trump rose to power by bullying minorities, and Kanye built his brand by speaking up on behalf of the oppressed.

Now, everyone is scrambling to figure out how, when and why Mr. West went from this:
“I get down for my grandfather who took my mama, made her sit in that seat, where White folks ain’t want us to eat. At the tender age of six she was arrested for the sit-ins, now with that in my blood, I was born to be different.” The Old Kanye (circa-2004)
To this:
“I didn’t vote, but if I did I would have voted for Trump.”
– The New Kanye (November 17, 2016)
Shocked fans booed and threw concessions at their hero’s unprovoked hypocrisy. And social media didn’t take long to follow up with memes, think pieces and promises to boycott Ye’s overpriced Adidas apparel.

As a diehard fan of Kanye’s since middle school, I still don’t know how to make sense of the past couple years. Is this unraveling the revelation of his true self? Or is it all a distortion created by years of fame and and privilege? Whatever the case, I’m disappointed that it’s led to this. And either way, I’ll be praying for ‘Ye like a family member. Even if he never was who I believed he was.

The pink Polo, backpack-wearing Kanye that charmed the world in the mid 2000’s did so by embodying everything we were told a successful mainstream rapper couldn’t be. He was emotionally vulnerable, clean-cut, shamelessly-privileged and socially conscious. Next to 50 Cent, the incumbent king of rap during Kanye’s come-up, the outspoken nerd in Louis Vuitton looked as refreshing to rap fans as Donald Trump looked next to his blatantly corrupt political foes.

Donald Trump’s successful campaign for President owes a lot to the example West’s set for us all. Both gained power by manipulating media to convince poor people that they were their champions; That they were cut from a different cloth than everyone else in the corrupt systems that they were campaigning so hard to take over. But did they want power to overthrow, destroy and rebuild the system? Or just to say they did it?

It’s been almost eight years since Kanye snatched Taylor Swift’s White privilege, and it’s time we realized that Ye didn’t do it for Beyoncé. He did it for Kanye.
We should know that because every spectacle Ye’s created since the 2009 VMA’s — from his Walt Disney and SteveJobs-inspired monologues to his countless Twitter outbursts — has been in his own best interest, not the peoples’. He may be too zooted on fame to realize it yet, but it’s time the rest of us accepted it.

You may feel Kanye’s 1% privileges benefit you by proxy; Because he’s a symbol of Black excellence, or a pioneer in the arts. But don’t expect him to sacrifice his many privileges for you when all falls down. And he’s not the only one. There’s no point in holding pro athletes and pop artist to the standards of political revolutionaries. They’re usually just as hopelessly reliant on the system as everyone else.

So if you still thought Yeezus was your martyr, you need to revisit your scripture and double check his resume. When you do, you’ll realize there’s not much difference between the Kanye who deconstructed consumerism on “All Falls Down” and the one who sells his own overpriced consumer goods to his own flock of “New Slaves” with a diamond-encrusted smile. But at least a White man isn’t at the end of his over-priced sneaker transactions. Kanye’s radicalism has always been tied to his product. That’s why his movement will always stop at the cash register.

When Kanye told the nation that George Bush didn’t care about Black people, we mistook him for our modern day Ali. An entertainer who was willing to endure the neo-lynchings that await outspoken Black men in America. All because his conscious outweighed his ego. In reality, he was just perfecting the sacred American art of self-promotion. He didn’t pay for his stance like Ali, who lost out on the prime of his career. Kanye was immediately rewarded for calling out George Bush, and our positive reinforcement only encouraged increasingly outrageous behavior.
But when the world turned on Kanye for Debo’ing Taylor Swift‘s VMA, he must have realized the love of the people couldn’t protect him from the wrath of White Supremacy. After losing his spot on Lady Gaga‘s tour and facing unprecedented levels of harassment on social media, he fled to Europe to intern at luxury fashion houses and all but disappeared from popular culture.
Ye returned 9 months later exclusively donning suits and shouting “Rosewood,” an aesthetic that was inspired by the John Singleton film of the same name. He proved then that he was more concerned with transcending Blackness than overthrowing White Supremacy. Yeezy was never the “Spook Who Sat By The Door,” and it’s time we accepted that.

 

On social media, Kanye’s revolutionary unraveling has been blamed on everything from his mother’s passing to his refusal to stay on anti-psychotic medication. But there’s nothing new about his behavior. And his Trump comments should come as no surprise to those who’ve been paying attention.

There is no new Kanye. He has been out for self from day one and that doesn’t make him a bad person in the slightest. It’s actually what made us love him in the first place. But the sooner we realize he’s not speaking for our rights, but for our entertainment, the closer we will be to identifying the true new leader of the free world.

So have we found a new front-runner for 2020, yet?

@CoupCoup40Cal

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