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The curious case of Kanye West: what happens when your hero becomes the villain?

Kanye’s conservative stance is ruffling feathers.

KANYE WEST HAS had a busy couple of weeks on Twitter.

PA-29463066 Source: Pool/ABACA

The rapper, designer and wannabe philospher returned to the site, seemingly sharing wisdom and discussing his shoe line. Oh, if only that was where the story ends, but it doesn’t.

After some nonsensical musings, Kanye reestablished his support as a bona-fide supporter of President Donald Trump, having gone mum on his stance after meeting the former business man in late 2016.

Tweeting a picture of himself wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, he criticised former President Barack Obama.

“Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed,” he tweeted. (Obama publicly called West a “jackass” in 2009 after the rapper interrupted Taylor Swift’s speech at the VMAs).

You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”

Trump acknowledged the shoutout on Twitter:

He found support in his views from fellow Chicago rapper Chance The Rapper (though he’s backtracked since). That was about it. Former collaborator John Legend text the star to ask him to reconsider his position. Scores of celebrities unfollowed him. Even his wife, Kim Kardashian, sought to distance herself from his polarising political opinions.

 

For every Kanye fan, a tweet storm is usually the start of something exciting – more often than not, an album campaign. Before divulging his Republican allegiances, he announced the release of his as-of-yet untitled follow-up to The Life Of Pablo in June, as well a slew of other releases from solo artists he’d produced for. What should have been a joyous time for all the people who have worshipped Yeezy through it all is now immeasurably tainted.

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Kanye finds himself in a strange category, in that he hasn’t technically done anything terrible. In cases such as that of Ian Watkins or Jesse Lacy of Brand New, where their actions are considered widely and categorically as abhorrent, it is easier to separate yourself as a fan from the artist and the music.

What with Kanye, then? It could be argued that, yes, while his politics could be viewed as terrible, he hasn’t done anything so bad as to stop literally hundreds of thousands of people worldwide wildin’ out to Gold Digger of a Saturday evening.

Here’s why it’s not just ‘bad politics’ though.

Kanye’s other previous problematic behaviour has been pretty much been explained away before. His onestage interruptions of Taylor Swift and Beck were put down to deteriorating mental health following the unexpected death of his mother Donda. In fact, it’s been something that continues to be brought back up when his words are called in to question. “Ah yeah, he’s not well.” For sure, he has openly and admittedly suffered in the past.

But that doesn’t take away from what he is consciously doing right now. Contrary to popular belief, Kanye is not an idiot. He understands the influence he holds within popular culture. He experiences God-like reverence from his cult-following. For someone with such a strong presence across genres to align themselves with an inherently racist movement and the demagogue Trump is incredibly frightening.

It’s important to remember that this is the man who wants to deport immigrants for simply looking for a better life, befriending the man who’s written songs like New Slaves; the man who previously declared that former Republican president George W. Bush Jr. didn’t care about black people following Hurricane Katrina.

Source: Shockroc1/YouTube

Where does that leave fans, then? Some have probably already giving him the Shania Twain treatment.

But undoubtedly, some will be able to ignore the bigger picture (for now, at least), because the thought of new Kanye material sustains them more than their hatred of bigotry does.

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