We desperately need to redefine what qualifies as “news.” Whatever a responsible news outlet comes up with as a formal definition CANNOT include the desperate and delusional ravings of a mentally ill rap-artist. Kanye West opining about history and politics is not news, so all major media outlets need to check themselves if they have covered them as such in the past couple of weeks. There are serious matters we have to deal with in the world today and I know I’m not alone in giving less than a f*ck what that fool thinks about any of them. He can jerk-off to pictures of himself and Donald Trump every night if he wants to but the rest of us shouldn’t have to hear about it on our news broadcasts.
It will be my pleasure to take a moment in this space and explain the kinky bromance that has broken out between two of the dopiest assholes in America who stumbled onto the high platforms they now opine from. Consider it a public service to get this bullshit out of the way so that anybody reading this can ignore any and all future “news” reports that begin with the phrase “Kanye West says.” Here’s the deal: There are some black people who just love to be photographed with or near Donald Trump. It makes them feel special. Important. Different. Even successful. This has its roots all the way back in plantation culture in the antebellum south: The praise and approval of the rich white man was the most valuable thing that any black person could have. It meant safety and security – maybe even a little comfort. So when a white man of means is willing to be nice to them in public, it can generate powerful emotions and peculiar behavior.
Subconsciously, many black folks respond like that to this very day and we’ve seen that in acid-trip quality colors during this week-long run of Kanye’s Minstrel Show. The reality of the circumstance is of no consequence to Negroes like Kanye because what they really crave is the optics and the attention they generate. So as soon as the cameras snap and flash bulbs pop, they are as happy as a pig neck-deep in slop. The simple fact is they are starving for attention and getting into that photo frame is an immediate enhancement to fame. It doesn’t matter how much fame they may already have they always want more. And in 2018 there is no surer way for a black person in America to raise their profile exponentially than by saying something publicly supportive of Donald Trump. Like Kanye said on one of his hit records, it’ll “make you a celebrity over night.”
It is easy to forget that he actually used to be a pretty good rapper and hip hop producer and he stood on that alone. He wasn’t my particular taste, but he was definitely good enough to keep extending the 15 minutes of fame that is normally allotted for people who seek out stardom in the music industry and are actually lucky and talented enough to find it.
Kanye figured out fast that controversy through social commentary was one sure way to transcend the fleeting fame of hip hop music and become a figure of much broader pop-cultural significance. And even though he backed into that understanding with his off-the-cuff commentary about President Bush during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, he has gripped onto it with urgency and determination like it was his destiny. And maybe it was. In a culture where infamy is no longer a burden to be lived down but an opportunity to be maxed out, creating hostile detractors and fiery enemies is every bit as valuable as earning passionate supporters and committed allies. Kanye has mastered that game far better than any bar he ever wrote or beat he ever spun from a sample. And that is a highly bankable skill.
For a random example of just how bankable, consider that an American woman recently became “infamous” for performing in a salacious amateur sex tape with a “D” list celebrity and made that tape the launching pad from which she rocketed to super-stardom and a billion dollar commercial empire. She had the built-in advantage of being a white woman with a big ass and a pretty face but what made her a star was her willingness to put it ALL out there and invite the world to love her or hate her for what she was. And it worked like gang-busters. Kim Kardashian can’t sing, dance, act, write, produce, play an instrument or anything connected to it but she’s an entertainment mega-star. Of course she’s a good-looking woman but she’s not even the finest woman in her own family, much less in the entertainment world. But she knew how to draw a crowd and she was willing to do whatever it took. And she happens to be the woman who Kanye chose as his wife. Imagine that.
So taking all of this background into account is there any surprise that he reached out for Trump like a wino for a freshly popped bottle of ripple? Trump is the most Kardashian-esque president we could ever have imagined: all image and no substance topped off with an unrelenting sense of entitlement to the spotlight. Trump built his political brand by hitting the “love me or hate me” G spot in the body politic. He is all about invoking what makes some people dangerously hostile and others recklessly excited because he understands that we can’t look away regardless of which camp we fall into. After all, it is human nature to gawk at a car wreck as we pass by. So considering the white-hot-heat that Trump generates daily by fanning the flames of racial division and political derision it makes all the sense in the world that Kanye decided he wanted to make his own version of a sex tape by going on the record with effusive praise of Donald Trump with full knowledge that he is the most reviled person in America today – especially in black-America. That’s why his comments were cringe inducing – it gave us the same sensation as watching a sex tape you’re ashamed to be watching.
In the short run, Kanye got what he wanted by becoming Donald Trump’s black mascot. But there’s a catch he didn’t anticipate that will compromise him deeply in the long-run. Relative to his co-star in the sex tape, HE’s the “D” list celebrity. He’s the Ray J. Trump has been basking in the afterglow since Kanye stripped off the veneer of black male dignity for him. Meanwhile Kanye has been running around doing damage control. Any net gain he gets out of this will pale in comparison to Trump’s – just like his wife got nearly all of the benefits from going full deep-throat on camera with Ray J.
That’s all there is to this story and there is no more news to report if there ever was any to begin with. So now you can finally close the book on Kanye. You’re welcome.