For over a decade now, Kanye West has been one of the most gifted artists and influential voices of our generation. From illustrious albums to an established shoe and clothing line of his own, Kanye has undoubtedly made himself one of the most important figures of our time in pop culture. After a recent series of controversial tweets, Kanye found that with such a prolific stature comes a profound effect as a role model, not just with your fans and followers, but also with fellow celebrities and public figures. Celebrities that have unfollowed Kanye so far over his tweets include fellow musicians Jaden Smith, Nicki Minaj, and Travis Scott, according to Business Insider.
Over the past couple of weeks, Kanye West was welcomed back to the social media world, reactivating his Twitter and wasting no time making his mark. Known for his buzzworthy tweets in the past, the hip-hop mogul decided to use the public platform to shade some light on the workings of his inner mind. In one of his tweets, he stated: “The thought police want to suppress freedom of thought.” Evidently, free thought is something that he feels very passionately about, and wants the world to follow, and be respected for it. He would then prove that he, in fact, has no fear expressing his thoughts, with a controversial statement that would get a big response from the online world.
Mr. West made his “love” for President Trump known, setting off reactions left and right, literally and politically. “You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him…He’s 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,” he tweeted. Despite the negative reactions that began to stir, Trump himself took notice and showed his gratitude for the recognition, replying to him with “Thank you Kanye, very cool!”. This turn of events inevitably had people appalled and utterly disappointed. News outlets like Business Insider reported that many of Kanye’s fellow celebrities unfollowed him, including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna.
With a plethora of media outlets plugged in and observing, it was only a matter of time before it became a hot topic of discussion. New York City radio host Ebro Darden of Hot97 decided to fire back, after a phone call that he personally had with Mr. West. “Kanye is talking about things that don’t affect him,” he began. Ebro, like many others, didn’t appreciate the stance that Kanye had been taking in his tweets. While Kanye made it clear that he is just using his platform to express his free thought, Ebro simply wasn’t biting and was onto him, claiming that he has a new album on the horizon. To add to the heat, he also tweeted out his support for Candace Owens, who has been known for challenging conventional black thought. To his understanding of the phone conversation they had, he concluded that Kanye wants to deprogram people, and have them think differently than they did before. He feels like Kanye has been demonized, and that as a society we demonize individuals who try to speak out and challenge conventional thought.
Unfortunately, through his endeavor, and the people he has aligned himself with, he has proved this to be true, by being demonized and criticized through it all. Ebro, boldly expressing his thoughts, decided to conclude by telling Kanye: “Donald Trump aligns himself with people who want to see the demise of black and brown people, all the way to the womb,” to which he was silent. The reality is, people are now outraged, and are now following in his footsteps of freely speaking their mind, too.
Naturally, through the tweets and controversial proclamations, people want answers. TMZ decided to host Kanye West and try to delve into the reasoning behind it all. When asked about what drove him to wear the ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, he stated that he felt a freedom in doing something that everybody tells you not to do. “For me to wear that hat means I want to make America great in my own way,” he told TMZ. “I don’t have extremely strong political opinions…I just love Trump, that’s my boy,” he continued. Kanye then went on to say his most controversial set of words yet. Mr. West claimed that since African Americans endured 400 years of slavery, that it was “a choice,” adding, “it’s like we were mentally imprisoned.” That’s when the biggest reactions, even from within the TMZ studio, really began.
TMZ producer Van Lathan took great offense to these statements: “You’re entitled to your opinion, you’re entitled to believe whatever you want,” Lathan said, “but there is fact and real-world, real-life consequences behind everything that you just said, and while you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives, to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Every day we have to walk into that truth, while you choose to say these things that to be honest with you dog, are nonsensical.”
Boldly expressing his disappointment, his voice was heard, and Kanye approached him and insisted on a hug. “You gotta be responsible, your voice is too big,” Van added, upon receiving an apology. The TMZ producer admits that growing up, he looked up to Kanye West and stood up for him all these years, but felt like he had been slapped in the face once he aligned himself with people who mean harm to African Americans. The host, Harvey Levin, decided to wrap it up with some context, and get to the root of it all. When asked what all of this is really about, Kanye stated: “It’s free love. Love conquers all. Love is the strongest force in the universe, and right now, we need love.”
Amidst the fire he knows he has begun with his words, he added: “I want to show people that it’s okay to screw up, and you still can make it through things.” Harvey, despite all that was said, decided to wrap it up by agreeing about the importance of free thought and how it’s been lost in today’s society. “In my view, you are a hugely important person, and your voice has to be heard,” he concluded.
Naturally, there are always two sides to the spectrum. Although there are many who are upset with Kanye West following his statements, there are those who still stick by him and remain faithful. Scott Adams, who created the famous Dilbert comic strip and hosts an online Youtube segment called Coffee With Scott Adams, decided to speak up and give some positive perspective on the matter. He brings up the idea of the Golden Age, which he defines “as a time where everything is going right” and the “realization that many problems are psychological and not physical,” for example, North Korea realizing it was a psychological problem, and solving it.
He states that “people are breaking out of their mental prisons” and “realizing there are things that used to hold us back, that used to limit what we could do.” Of course, he believes that Mr. West is one of those people. He understands that Kanye is somebody who has “strong credentials for being an advocate for African Americans and against racism”, and by supporting Candace Owens and President Trump, “he ripped a hole in reality”. Despite this, he said that regardless of what you want to say about Kanye’s politics, he did something that you could rarely see by altering reality, and freeing “a lot of people from a mental prison”. He concluded by saying: “Kanye just showed you how to get out, love him or hate him.”
Through thick and thin, there will always be those who stand by Kanye West, and wish him the best in his pursuits. Although he may have lost some followers and supporters through speaking his mind, there are those who still hope to see him shine like he always has. John Legend decided to send Kanye a personal text message, which Kanye shared via Twitter. In the text exchange, John says: “I hope you’ll reconsider aligning yourself with Trump. You’re way too powerful and influential to endorse who he is and what he stands for,” adding: “So many people who love you feel so betrayed right now because they know the harm that Trump’s policies cause, especially to people of color. Don’t let this be part of your legacy. You’re the greatest artist of our generation.”
Furthermore, the uplifting words of a friend of Mr. West’s by the name of ‘Cristiano’ were posted on Twitter, which certainly provided Kanye with some much-needed optimism at this time: “I have been reading your tweets and seen your interviews: you are opening the eyes of the people in the world. Kids at school are talking about you in such a respectful way. We all have been slaves of something, scared of something, addicted from something. You are helping us to be free, feel free, think free. Much love and respect, thank you for all you are doing.”
Kanye West, as an artist, a father, a husband, and a human being, has always seemed to have a substantial effect in some way, wherever he goes. Despite the controversy he has sparked and ignited on numerous occasions, he remains one of the most significant and influential figures of our time. What’s clear is that he finds himself at a time where he feels the desire to be an advocate of free thought. He wants people to join him in this endeavour, even if it means being criticized for saying what you truly feel. In one of his most recent tweets, he proclaimed: “They can no longer stop our voice”, and, in the words of one of his most successful songs ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’, “I’m just saying how I feel, man”.
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