Updated: May 5, 2018
The Dark Knight is one of my favorite movies ever. There is an enduring quote from that movie, when the character Harvey Dent converses with several people including Bruce Wayne. Harvey Dent says, "You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become a villain". This quote highlights how the people of the fictional city, Gotham has turned on the super hero vigilante, Batman. Its met to highlight that heroes never remain heroes as long as they remain alive, because their actions will continue to be scrutinized further diminishing their legacy. We've seen it manifest in some ways in society. Kanye West is the first instance where I can remember that this effect is completely self inflicted. If you have been away from pop culture or the internet, let me break down Kanye West's past 2 weeks. Kanye has 2 album releases on the way sometime in June. Kanye has been tweeting alot. Kanye has something to sell. Kanye has been speaking on the ideal of "free thought". Kanye has stated that he likes the way that anti-liberal commentator Candace Owens thinks. Kanye has worn some MAGA hats and continued to show a lovel of support for Donald Trump under the guise of love. People who have supported Kanye West over the years are upset, hurt, and disappointed. This has all come to a head with 2 events during the week. He did an interview with Charlamagne Tha God where he speaks on his and Trump's relationship and the most controversial of it all, he visited the TMZ newsroom and suggested that slavery over the course of 400 years at some point was a choice. You can debate whether he meant it literally, or whether he was speaking of the idea of victim hood and mental imprisonment, but the fact of the matter is what came out of his mouth is that slavery at some point was a choice. Van Lathan, a TMZ employee and a pod-caster and commentator himself, challenged Kanye West with an articulate response. Check it Out below
After seeing all of this, I've become less interested in the prospect of challenging his ideas and more about speaking to us. I firmly believe that part of the reason that he has become so emboldened to make these ridiculous assumptions is because he knows, musically he will be unchallenged. Kanye West has built the strongest catalog in Hip Hop history and certainly one of the most distinguished catalogs in modern pop as a whole. There is a certain liberation I think he feels. He can say whatever, he can express whatever and at the end of the day, people will listen. That is what Im most interested in. That's the assertion that I wanted to challenge. Truth is we haven't needed Kanye West musically.He has not had an exorbitant effect on music in over 5 years outside of talking bleached assholes. The black dollar has been so i that it allows Kanye to have this self aggrandizing, over inflated sense of self importance. He is a talented musician, but has never truly been articulate enough to lead outside of that. So ask yourself this, in an era that boast such talent as Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Vince Staples and many more of that ilk, why do we need Kanye West? Of course, alot of us want him to continue to support his place in history with more incredible music; but given the fact that his last releases has been slightly above average, why do we need to tolerate this?
Twitter has made outrage a commodity as oppose to simply a reaction. We have cornered the practice and execution of outrage. It can be positive in the sense that people are held accountable to an extent. It has also been a detriment in the sense that things that may not even merit our attention has become extended fodder for the public. Us as black people living in the US, have not yet learned how to maneuver our dollars to do the same. Lack of access and means can be a reason. If you can't afford to prioritize black businesses whether by proximity, access, or funding, it can be more difficult to take that stance. Kanye West's music does not fall under any of these circumstances. We can EASILY ignore his album release and we can easily choose not to listen to it. The need for staying up to date, should not be important enough to allow an egomaniac to peddle harmful rhetoric that can hurt us in the long run. If Kanye West's album sold much below expectations, I can guarantee that this would make him pause before saying something or at the very least articulate himself better. However, this should not be the main reason that we do this. We need to practice this muscle. The black dollar is the most power and influential than it has ever been. This is an easy template on how to practice that muscle and see for ourselves the power we yield. Ask yourself, when is the last time you listened to Kanye West? Did it hurt a day that you did not? Wasn't there plenty alternatives available at your discretion? You can choose to compartmentalize and you have every right to do so. We do it consistently and we do it continuously. However, in my mind, this time is too important to have one of our prominent voices parade outdated concepts that the people who want to hurt us continue to champion. Lets show him that free thought will never be devoid of 2 important factors, actual thought and consequence.