Hip hop music has given me the most education on the world and the thoughts, feelings and hardships people face everyday more-so than any other source of education in my whole life. Because it’s based on reality from real people who, relatively speaking, live whatever form of reality they’re exposing. It isn’t from the perspective of an outsider teacher in a classroom who would most likely only bring up rappers as a “bad influence” if you’re a student under a certain age and (this next example is from a real-life experience) would say that any “truth” they may tell in their songs is “negative” or “propaganda” simply because their narratives are the opposite of this fantasy you’re taught at an early age that all police are your friend, America is the “land of the free” and other boomer propaganda (notice I didn’t put the word Propaganda in quotes that time).
Kanye West is arguably the most polarizing rap superstar in the entire genre’s history. And in more ways than just one. Though the most recent example, and biggest one yet, is his allegiance to Donald Trump after years of performing “conscious” lyrics speaking for black people. The same dude that said on live television “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” in response to Hurricane Katrina, would a decade later be yelling on stage how he’s “on his Trump shit” and how if he had actually voted, it would have been for Trump.
In my previous post, I let readers know what this post here would be focusing on and inserted a link to a YouTube documentary that compiles clips of Kanye footage from his on-stage 2016 rant up to present day more or less. But the real purpose of the documentary was to try to convince viewers of conspiracy theories about how the “illuminati” shares ties with the music industry and that Kanye fell victim to reprogramming because he was too outspoken and was “dangerous” to whatever evil agenda is planned for this “new world order” rappers have been referencing since the 90s (I remember when they kept saying the world would be under siege by the year 2000. Guess it depends on what one’s definition of ‘world under siege’ is). Kanye was hospitalized for exhaustion and opioid dependency shortly after abruptly cancelling his entire tour and announcing it after a 15 plus minute rant on stage about the evils of radio, TV and the media in general (he even gives a ‘fuck you’ shoutout to Google multiple times) and how they lie to you and pretty much how everything that doesn’t follow his own opinions is lies and mind control. This follows with him shouting “FEELINGS MATTER!” and then dissing then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. When Kanye was hospitalized shortly after, all of these crazed fans online for the most part decided to buy into what Mr. West was saying and defending him as this tragic hero type of figure who is “unplugged from the matrix” and how everyone else is “scared of the truth”. There is no doubt in my mind these extremely loyal stans are no different than ultra-religious evangelicals who view Trump’s presidency as some fulfilled prophecy from God and all of the horrific things he’s done are “sacrifices” or something like that.
If you follow my twitter page a lot and have been for a while, you have probably run across quite a few tweets of mine in the past year dissing or making jokes about hip hop’s self-proclaimed “Louis Vuitton Don” and his political shift. This is because for years I have been one of these loyal stans myself. I’ll explain….
From the minute I bought and listened to his first album “The College Dropout” as a teenager, I pretty much was hearing what any geeky white kid wanted to hear from a rapper (but wouldn’t dare admit it then)… an average joe who shares zero traits in his personality, wardrobe, or musical content as a macho, gangsta, hardcore, violent etc etc whatever stereotype was a “requirement” to be a successful rapper before this guy. Not only that but his style of soulful production was a breathe of fresh air and reminded me of music I listened to as a little kid. The bottom line is, race aside, he reminded me of myself. An outsider. A wallflower. Someone who never had an interest in sports, let alone playing them at his school’s gym class, and wasn’t interested in fitting in at all. He embraced being different and made that cool again (no doubt inspired by De La Soul’s message and overall look when they emerged back in 1989).
Just like I said in my two-part Eminem post, there was also a parallel between me and Kanye throughout my teenage-to-college years and the first few years of his career. But the difference was, unlike the case with Eminem (specifically during his pill addiction-fueled hiatus), this blurred parallel line was happening simultaneously. His next album, Late Registration came out during the fall of 2005. This was my final school semester transitioning from being at a school exclusively for kids on the autistic spectrum to finally going back to a mainstream school in my hometown, which finally happened full-time the following January. But I REALLY felt like the album was loosely about what I was going through at that same time, obviously in a very general way. All of the ambition, optimism and self congratulatory content backed by epic instrumentals was how I felt then. Like I was entering a world I have been trying to hitch a ride to for years with no luck. Kanye says in one of the songs that the title “Late Registration” means “taking these motherfuckers back to school”. All I could think of was going back to a real school finally but being officially registered in my own district extremely late.
Shortly after I graduated from high school in 2007 while feeling on top of the world, I would find out ironically Kanye’s upcoming 3rd album would be titled “Graduation”. And months later while still for the most part feeling on top of the world in college as a freshman, hearing that album was exactly that. Someone who felt he “made it” and (quoting the title one of the album’s singles) was finally living the “good life”. The whole album was less conscious and more of a celebration pretty much.
But within the next year, when my years of numb depression would begin to unfold, not only would Kanye’s music and life change forever, but my whole outlook on the world, myself and effects of past traumas from childhood would…once again run parallel.
To be continued….