The artist formerly known as Kanye West is one of the greatest artists in human history, from genre defining, bending and innovating music, fashion, design & film he has an undeniable catalogue. He has consistently inspired me through his interviews, taste level, work ethic, work methods, skill level and unparalleled creativity. He is one of my favourite designers, filmmakers, beatmakers, musicians, performance artists, writers, even down to the art on his album covers by Takashi Murakami, George Condo & Virgil Abloh being some of my favourite paintings & visual pieces of art ever made. As a Black male beatmaker-painter-designer-multidisciplinary creative person that exists in the year 2022, I grew up on Ye & feel like I owe a lot to Ye for paving the way for people like me to exist, and showing me an unconventional path that changed the trajectory of my actual real life.
Ye’s art always had a deep sense of morality, empathy, higher reasoning and logic, a unique sense of humor, abnormal intelligence, curiosity, holistic thinking, divergent thinking, loads of knowledge encapsulated in a short period of time, meta cognition, & an enhanced perception of the bigger picture. Ye albums feature plays, allegories, stories of his real life, his taste in film, literature, fashion, poetry, his opinions, narratives, and life encapsulated in music & art.
People like Drake, Travis Scott, Tyler The Creator, Donald Glover, Bo Burnham, Jerrod Carmichael, Aziz Ansari, Bon Iver, Elon Musk, Jay Z, M.I.A, Balenciaga, OFF-WHITE, Supreme, Louis Vuitton, H&M, Zara, Walmart, and almost everyone & everything else wouldn't look how it looks today if it wasn't for the language this man introduced with his creativity. Entire genres, subcultures, ways of dressing, sounding, looking and representing yourself were curated by Ye and made the norm in society, globally.
What I quickly realized is that Ye holds a strange space in pop culture for everyone. He is, in my opinion, the most outspokenly principled artist of his generation, which is why everyone takes his opinions so personally. He’s taken the most abrasive social stances of any artist within my lifetime, and many of his stances have been based on how he actually feels about an issue after contemplating it, even if the opinion will be detrimental to his career, which it has objectively been at various points. I really believe he really believes every stance he takes, and has a reason for it that he can explain, regardless of whether other people like it.
I believe Ye is an independent thinker with a very high I.Q, that has a philosophy towards how he lives his life that is more consistent than the people he is able to manipulate by having an opinion that makes them mad one day, until he creates music that they love the next day.
Most pop stars don’t take any social stances, most humans don’t take as many social stances as Ye, but because he’s outspoken about his beliefs, people feel entitled to his opinion. Because he said George Bush doesn’t care about Black people, people felt entitled to who he would vote for in the future and couldn't fathom that he would support Donald Trump. Kid Rock also voted for Donald Trump but I don’t think anyone on Earth cares. I had multiple conversations with other humans in real life who were genuinely personally emotionally invested in who this man would vote for, and it's fascinating to see cause what other artist or entertainer does anyone care about in that way?
As an artist who is exposed to tons of subversive and ironic art on a daily basis, a White Lives Matter T-Shirt worn by a Black designer is one of the least offensive things I saw that week. When I first saw it, I laughed. But then I saw how big this situation got and I really had to ask myself, who is Ye?
Seriously, who is this guy and why does his opinions matter? I know why his opinion matters to me, but why does everyone else care to the point where everyone needs him to change his mind? Why is every opinion he has the main headline? I saw a writer label the shirt “violent”, which was actually quite offensive, especially during the current warlike climate where actual violence is occuring, but it really seems to be the way people are reacting to this shirt, as though it’s actually violent.
I saw people instantly begin saying things like “Kanye needs to take his medication” and it was fascinating how quick people were to pull that card to dismiss this artist for making art. The Balenciaga fashion shows have people wearing garbage bags spandex and helmets but I’ve yet to hear people call Demna crazy. Ye has always repurposed narratives like with the confederate flag bomber jacket, but it seems like people really love getting mad at this guy, and maybe that’s just a part of it. Maybe that’s just what you sign up for when you become Kanye West. Maybe his role is to piss people off, make people think, make people talk, get called crazy and create beauty in the process, but I think his censorship by corporate entities needs to be taken far more seriously by everyone.
Ye is like Farrakhan to me, I may not agree with everything he says, but after I hear him out, I agree with a good 99.9% of it, or at the very least, I can understand. I don’t believe Ye is a bad guy, I don’t believe he’s violent, I don’t believe he’s in an episode, I think he’s an artist while simultaneously being one of the most famous and rich people on Earth, and his artist side is fighting against the usual confines of what it meant to be a celebrity, a billionaire or black man in America. Usually someone at that level of fame and influence is confined by agents, managers, and various corporate entities, but he’s also this actual creative genius hell bent on expressing himself through the confines, and dealing with his life very publicly.
As of this writing Ye has been banned from both Instagram and Twitter for hate speech. Being a celebrity from Hollywood is weird, it has enough power to make you president as seen with Regan and Trump, but celebrities don’t have a secret service. What celebrities do have is brands, Kanye West the brand is a business with thousands of employees around the world, Ye the artist is the same expressive kid from Chicago with more eyes on him than the pope, at a level of fame and influence most humans won’t achieve, that is actually acting on his own volition, and it seems like various corporate entities have a problem with that.
It's unconventional to negotiate your deals on instagram, but it's also unconventional being the first ever Ye while instagram exists. His baby mama drama is on tv because his baby mama is on tv, they're arguing on instagram because they're an instagram family, I've seen various people have the same arguments on facebook, he doesn't have to be in an episode for wanting say over his children, his designs or the rest of his life, and expressing it publicly.
I believe banning Ye from expressing himself is an attack on free speech, it’s an attack on artistry, it’s an attack on our culture, that’s one of the most objectively influential human beings on planet Earth, and he can just be muted by these platforms that are supposed to be public squares. Ye is an artist, who decides what an artist is allowed to express and how do they determine this? This is a slippery slope that leads directly to fascism, or it’s the smoke of the fire that’s been going on for a while, specifically since 2020. Maybe the censorship of Ye is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about with these platforms, that the entire planet uses at this point, that have been taking censorship into their own hands. Is Mark Zuckerberg playing God?
I think Ye freely expressing himself is the key to a better world, he creates space for dialogue that needs to be had. There are people threatening nuclear war and actual violence, I think Ye putting some letters on the back of a shirt can get a pass.
Do we need to discuss how the BLM organization stole millions of dollars? Do we need to discuss the passivity of the phrase Black Lives Matter, with Mattering being the bare minimum of the solution to the issue? Do we need to discuss the necessity for an olive branch between different groups of people who are being polarized into a civil war by mass media? Or how Ye has a White ex wife, and half white kids? Or that maybe if white kids felt like white lives mattered those kids in schools wouldn’t take them so easily, maybe we have bigger issues than chastising an artist for making Art and we can have the actual conversations, which is the artists role to start.
Any fascist organization goes at the poets first, its happened every single time throughout history, if the biggest poet of his generation can be silenced, what hope does anyone else have in expressing themselves? Who decides what we are allowed to express?
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