The recent behaviour of American rapper Kanye West has raised a lot of eyebrows, to say the least.
It all started with his tweet on April 25th, where he declared his appreciation for United States President Donald Trump. “The mob can’t make me not love [Trump]. We are both dragon energy.” This sparked a myriad of reactions on the internet, including a lot of appreciation from Trump supporters. In the ensuing days, Kanye’s Twitter profile was filled with tweets expressing his love for the President, including a photo showing Trump’s approval of the same.
Now, it is no secret that Donald Trump has said many scandalous things in the past, especially against ethnic minorities. Needless to say, Kanye’s tweets in support of the President shocked many people. But the moment that really takes the cake, has to be Kanye’s interview with TMZ live, wherein he talks about slavery and outright says “[Slavery] sounds like a choice to me!”.
If this was the work of journalists twisting statements around, perhaps the situation would have been much simpler. Unfortunately, everything is true, and comes from the rapper himself. Although Kanye later tried to clarify his statement by saying that he was referring to “mental slavery”, it is obvious enough in the clip, that he is not. Naturally, his interview incited massive outrage, and even prompted the Nigerian Senator to publish a tweet asking Kanye to visit slave routes and camps and “experience the choices in chains”.
What is interesting to note, is that Kanye appears to deny any political motivations behind his actions. In fact, it seems as though all his behaviour is driven by a strong belief in free thinking and love. Through his tweets, posts, and even his statements during the TMZ interview, the star has been reiterating the importance of love and the need for free thinking in our society today.
However, many people do not agree with how this belief has been translated by his actions. American singer-songwriter Janelle Monae condemned Kanye’s statements in an interview with radio channel Power 106 LA. The takeaway quote from the interview being, “Slave masters also thought freely, and where did we get with that?”
I cannot help but agree with the singer. Kanye West has always been known to be an eccentric, but his recent behaviour is appalling, to say the least. The rapper seems to have lost his way. As important as free thinking can be, we cannot hurt others in its name. It is the repeated advocation of love and free thought, coupled with the rest of his statements that leaves me unnerved and confused. Continually championing love loses its meaning when your words sadden and enrage so many people.
Naturally, not everyone feels the same contempt for the star. Many people have expressed their approval of Kanye’s train of thought. President Donald Trump is elated with the newfound support from Kanye. Now, it is exactlythis elation that should be the primary reason for worry. Kanye West has often been regarded as the most influential rapper in our generation. His open support for a president whose history is riddled with such controversial ideas, is a big reason to worry. Moreover, the fact that Kanye is receiving so much support from Trump himself is extremely perturbing.
However, one can never confidently say that they understand the workings and motivations behind Kanye’s actions. The “Bound 2” star is known for his unpredictability, both in his music and his behaviour. There is still a small possibility that this is simply a publicity stunt. Of course, if that is what this is about, then it is a dangerous stunt- both for the rapper’s reputation, and for all the people he has influenced.
Though his beliefs may revolve around deeper philosophical thoughts, his actions do not seem to translate this in all its purity. Promoting love while simultaneously supporting a president who has spread so much hatred and negativity is contradictory, to put it mildly.
At the end of the day, we do not have to agree with Kanye- I certainly don’t. I do find it very convenient, that anything I have against the rapper can be rooted in his belief itself: free-thinking. Kanye says that we cannot think freely because we follow other people’s opinions. Now, I personally see his own words as the best reason not to agree with him.
So, in the spirit of free-thinking: I cannot follow Kanye’s opinion, and I certainly do not feel that he is feeling, or truly spreading love.
Aanavi Sinha is a Bachelor student of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.