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Things used to be, now they not, Kanye

Blazing a new path in ugly celebrity, West is a thought leader in that regard

There are reports that Adidas’ new Yeezys might be banned from the NBA because the heel of the shoe is distractingly reflective. We haven’t gotten that far yet, but that’s the rumor and production has reportedly been stopped as a result. There’s a more important question at play here, however, regarding what those shoes reflect in terms of more than just light:

Do players want to represent Kanye West’s message these days?

West’s intellectual dowdyism and penchant for irresponsibility have moved from boring and rote to harmful and dangerous. We’re well beyond the sunken-place jokes, or insert any pop-culture reference point you want to here. We’re blazing a new path in ugly celebrity — and Mr. West is a thought leader in that regard, if nothing else at this point.

We can start with Saturday Night Live. Filling in for Ariana Grande, West and Lil Pump performed their song “I Love It” — while wearing cartoon-sized water bottles as outfits — and it got weird. To be clear, this song sucks. The original video sucks. The execution of this live show was even worse. You can say what you want about the actual visuals of West dancing on a stage in an awful costume. It was only the warmup.

As the show closed, West took what was an ensemble performance featuring his friends and turned it into yet another look-at-me rant moment whose ineptitude is only outshined by its ineffectiveness. He claims he was bullied for wearing a Make America Great Again hat, somehow managing to drag this bit out yet again.

“Follow your heart and stop following your mind. That’s how we’re controlled. That’s how we’re programmed,” he notes at one point, shattering the earth with his brain-bendingly newfangled philosophies. What’s hilarious are the sermon organ tones being played in the background while homeboy is preaching. “I know some of y’all don’t agree.”

He goes on to mention a bunch about the liberal media. Then he starts singing. No thanks, fam. Kenan Thomspon went on Late Night with Seth Meyers and explained it as holding the cast members hostage on stage. The incident itself was not aired on actual television, because, yeah, the show was over, Kanye aside.

Then, he tweeted that he wanted to abolish the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. THEN he went in front of Harvey Levin to say that “abolish” was the wrong terminology and he actually wants to amend it, yada yada. Let’s also not forget that Non-Professor West told us once that slavery was a choice. Are you warmed up yet? (I refuse to have constitutional arguments in good faith in this space, for myriad reasons, No. 1 of which is that ultimately, that document is not the root of our problems. But here’s more background on that.)

These are queries that in the relatively modern world (cable TV and reasonably widespread internet access) versus the hypermodern current world (notifications on your wrist and streaming every part of one’s life) we deal with differently. Whereas we once had to openly ask among ourselves, “Are we sure Whitney is OK?” after she blurted out “crack is wack” during an interview in her home, we also once had to publicly worry, “What the hell is going on with Dave Chappelle?” when he declared he was going to Africa, publicly exposing an entire cultural class and their ignorance about the sociopolitical situation of basically an entire nation, that of being black America. Now, we have to watch this in slightly more real-time, from a character who is arguably more socially influential than both, if you’re including all of America and the globe, beyond black folks. We’ve gotten to, for different reasons: R. Kelly territory.

This isn’t about equating the grotesque actions of Robert Kelly to those of Mr. West. It’s about the fact that at a certain point, you have to question whether or not this person’s contributions to your life can ever outweigh the lifestyle he’s chosen to live as a result of our support. Whitney had drug problems. Dave felt he wasn’t able to communicate the same way. West is siding with a commander in chief who once spent nearly $100,000 to take out a full page ad urging the death penalty for the young men of the Central Park Five, and 30 years later said he still thought they did it (though their convictions, after years of imprisonment, were vacated). It’s hard to, in good conscience, endorse anything this person does because of said activity. Being black is not a political party to choose from, no matter how much Yeezy tries to act like it is. I will completely understand anyone who wants to distance themselves from anything this man touches, from here on out, until something drastic changes.

West apparently believes he can parlay this great friendship of his with President Donald Trump into a meeting with his woke video game boss counterpart: Colin Kaepernick. Why on earth would Kaepernick answer Kanye’s phone calls? There’s not one good reason to do that. There’s certainly no reason for Kap to sit down with Trump for that matter either. On a basic level, these two don’t have anything to do with each other, outside of the fact that the former’s existence supremely irks the latter.

What all this soul-searching has done for Ye, I have no idea. But his aversion to history is obvious. The whole premise of his “college dropout” ethos was that of someone who basically could not keep up with the social grind of a world he didn’t fit into. Since his mother was an educator, it probably never occurred to him that he wasn’t innately equipped with book smarts. From all deductions, he had the educational value of it at home and took that for granted. It’s like thinking that you understand money because your parents are rich. Not necessarily the case. To that point and for that reason, I don’t ever want to be as rich as Kanye West.

Clinton Yates is a tastemaker at The Undefeated. He likes rap, rock, reggae, R&B, and remixes — in that order.