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Dublin: 2 °C Friday 15 November, 2019

Simply distancing himself from Donald Trump isn't enough to redeem Kanye West

We understand the headache that lifelong Kanye West fans feel in recent months.

President Donald J. Trump Meets West and Brown Source: Ron Sachs

SINCE KANYE WEST and Donald Trump’s unexpected partnership began, it has been a source of serious internal conflict for longtime Kanye West fans. It baffled fans who took a liking to the rapper around The College Dropout era, when he proclaimed that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on live TV after Hurricane Katrina.

Why? Because, despite the fact that the general public viewed Kanye West as a vapid narcissist for a long time, these fans viewed Kanye West as an unusually principled celebrity, who appeared to have a pretty decent understanding of racial and social inequality in the United States. 

Kanye first voiced his support of Donald Trump in November 2016, when he stopped mid-performance in San Jose to tell fans at his concert that he had not voted in the 2016 presidential election, but if he had, he would have voted for Donald Trump. He was admitted to hospital right after this incident as he was suffering with “temporary psychosis” (according to Rolling Stone). After Kanye emerged from hospital in December 2016, he only became more and more vocal about his admiration of Donald Trump. 

President Donald J. Trump Meets West and Brown Source: Ron Sachs

If you need any refreshing on the comments Kanye West made between that point and the present day, The Washington Post put together a timeline of all of Kanye’s most political moments. Kanye reactivated his Twitter account this year and became more and more active, regularly tweeting photos of himself in his Make America Great Again hat and complimenting Donald Trump.

This was to the disappointment and concern to many of his friends, including John Legend who said that Kanye didn’t even “know what Trump’s policies are, or the substance of his legislative programme.” 

I think he sees a lot of himself in Trump and he admires that. And it’s unfortunate. 

For months, John Legend alluded to his unsuccessful attempts to get through to Kanye. Then suddenly and apparently out of nowhere, Kanye decided it was time to distance himself from Donald Trump and politics in general. The rapper took to Twitter to say that he realises he has “been used”.

When Kanye quietened down a bit, Kim Kardashian came forward to try and salvage some of the public’s opinion of her husband. She explained that “He is very not political, actually.” 

He just happens to like Donald Trump’s personality, but doesn’t know about the politics. I’ve educated him. I think he gets really misconstrued. He will always say that he was friendly with [Trump] before, and is friendly with him now, I think what my husband fights for – and again, he’s not the best communicator at explaining it – but what he fights for is the right to like what he wants to like, even if it’s different from what you like. 

As much as Kim tries to spin this, there’s no way that anybody who is familiar with Kanye West’s older work could describe him as “very not political” (it seems as though Kim also has some trouble with communication).  The Kanye West we see today is very different to the Kanye West of 2004. What inspired this massive U-turn? Is it because he grew far wealthier? 

Even if Kim tries to paint this as, “Oh, Kanye doesn’t like Trump’s politics – he just likes him as a person”, it still doesn’t really make much sense. Donald Trump is his politics. He’s not just some guy who doesn’t really think or talk about politics much (well, arguably). He’s the President of the United States. 

For Kanye to redeem himself, he needs to do more than just step away from speaking about politics in public with Donald Trump. He needs to stop associating with him altogether. Hanging out with Donald Trump isn’t a great look. Especially when so many other big names in the music industry refuse to even let Donald Trump play their music at his rallies.

How many celebrities refused to perform at Trump’s inauguration because they didn’t want to be associated with him? Well, Elton John, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, and KISS to name a few. Even lower level celebs like Welsh singer Charlotte Church turned the gig down, and tweeted Donald Trump saying “A simple internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant.” 

Kanye needs to actively and vocally oppose the parts of Trump’s politics that he does not agree with, if he wants to begin sorting out this mess that he got himself into. However, it doesn’t look like that day is ever going to come. Kanye’s stepping away from politics, but he’s still displaying some very poor judgement. 

This week, Pitchfork reported that Kanye West was due to appear on Tekashi69′s upcoming album. If you don’t know who Tekashi69 is, you’re probably thinking “So what?” We recently wrote a little bit of an explainer on who Tekashi69, or 6ix9ine as he also calls himself, is because Nicki Minaj has been associating with him quite a bit

6ix9ine/Tekashi69′s real name is Daniel Hernandez. Last month he pled guilty to a felony count of use of a child in a sexual performance, after he filmed himself with a naked 13-year-old old girl and distributed the video online. Thanks to his plea bargain, Hernandez didn’t have to register as a sex offender or serve the three year sentence he was facing. Instead he was sentenced to four years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. He got off pretty lightly, considering his rap sheet also includes choking a 16-year-old girl and assaulting a police officer. 

You’d think Hernandez would have a bit of cop on after narrowly avoiding jail time, but nah. This week he was arrested on racketeering charges, conspiracy to commit murder, a charge of armed robbery and the illegal possession of a semi-automatic rifle. 

If you had not heard of Tekashi69 until today, that’s even more reason for you to understand why Kanye’s approval and affiliation does a lot to help his career. Artists like Nicki Minaj and Kanye West are increasing Tekashi69′s platform immensely by featuring on multiple songs on his new album Dummy Boy which was set for release on Friday, but was postponed because of all of the legal trouble that Hernandez has gotten himself into. 

Kanye West can try make himself look better by stepping away from his public relationship with Donald Trump, but it means nothing if he doesn’t condemn Trump for the politics that he disagrees with. It means even less if he’s still happy to associate himself with people like Daniel Hernandez. 

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Kelly Earley

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