Kanye West, born Kanye Omari West, is a Chicago native known for his gripping lyrics, outlandish statements and shifting styles.
However, over the past few weeks, the rapper has taken his big personality out of bounds by expressing support for President Donald Trump.
Something many in the hip-hop and African-American community are not happy with at all.
West has been vocal in politics since he entered the realm of fame, most notably claiming that “George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people” during a charity concert and telethon for relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
As seen in “Power” from the album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” which is considered one of his best songs, West raps “the system broken, the school’s closed, the prison’s open; we ain’t got nothing to lose, m*****f***** we rolling.”
So why the big fuss?
As he and his wife, Kim Kardashian, have both claimed, there’s nothing wrong with self-expression. After all, we live in a free country, don’t we?
Well, he’s only half right.
Since its inception, most grunt work in America has been on the backs of blacks, Mexicans, natives and every other ethnicity than white.
While POC (people of color) have worked day in and day out to build our foundations, rich white men have prospered from the fruits of their labor.
Something West, up until this point, had been vocal about and highly critical of.
However, it is evident that Trump represents all the things West had previously been opposed to: white, power, money, Republican, etc.
Trump’s presidency has been marred over the past year with controversy surrounding involvement and support from white supremacists, neo-nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, all groups directly against what West has previously stood for.
Growing up in Chicago, a city damaged by crime, gang relations and government corruption, it’s easy for a young child to get lost in the allure of the streets: money, power, respect. People like West were an example of what could be if you stay focused and work towards your dreams.
Emphasis on the “were.”
Since his expression of support for Trump, many have taken to social media to “disown” him as an inspiration or a hero, something potentially very damaging for inner-city youth that looked to him as a role model.
Not only that, the question of what’s going on in his head has been asked since his rants began.
“Is Kanye okay?”
To put it simply, no. So what’s going on?
History of Mental Illness
Candid West has never shied away from speaking on personal matters, including his battle with depression.
Following the death of his mother, Donda West, in 2007, West spiraled into a deep depression in which he speaks on in his “808’s & Heartbreak” album.
In “Coldest Winter,” the rapper repeats “Goodbye my friend, will I ever love again” over and over, clearly in distress, before ending in finality, saying, “I won’t ever love again.”
Late last year he was apparently hospitalized for exhaustion and a potential psychiatric emergency, according to Men’s Health.
That’s why this matters.
Mental illness affects up to 6 million men in America, according to Mental Health America.
Moreover, mental illness in the African-American community is often overlooked or undiagnosed due to a culture of hyper masculinity and an overall lack of access to mental health care.
One of the most world renowned hip-hop artists might possibly be having a full blown psyche break on the world’s stage and all we can do is make “Get Out” jokes?
But on the other hand, is this really just depression?
Heavy Drug Use
It’s no shocker to find out that West has been a drug user for many years. It seems anyone that everyone in Hollywood abuses drugs to cope with the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Drug use in the African-American community is particularly heavy, as it plays a large part in the hip-hop, rap and “trap” lifestyles adopted and portrayed by personalities such as Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky and West himself.
Early Friday morning, Scott and West released a new single titled “Watch.”
In his verse, West references getting off his “main pills” and having an “opioid addiction.”
His candid nature about his personal life has also included discussions about his drug addiction, which he has expressed distress over in many other works including the song “Addiction” from the album “Late Registration” where he questions “why everything that’s supposed to be bad make me feel so good?”
Could the mixture of a cocktail of drugs and severe mental illness be the reason behind Kanye’s explosive episodes?
It does matter
Even though in Mr. West’s mind things such as slavery were a “choice,” as he mentioned in an interview at the TMZ studio, the way African-Americans are treated today certainly isn’t a choice.
The old cliche “with great power comes great responsibility” couldn’t be any truer than in the case of Kanye West.
Kids from all over the world look up to this man, the man who looks like them, who grew up in a city just like the one they come from, who talks about issues they only wish they were brave enough to let off their lips but hold back for fear of retaliation.
This man is an inspiration to many, and by supporting the one man who goes against everything these children are, he is single handedly destroying any dreams they may have of “making it out.”
But this isn’t all West’s fault.
As people around the world march for Black Lives Matter and speak upon the racial injustice in this country, both noble and legitimate causes, Twitter fills with memes and posts taunting the rapper and his apparent break down.
If this is in fact a psyche break, does he not deserve compassion, no matter who he claims he’s supporting? Does this man who’s done so much to represent and shed light on his community not deserve understanding from those who claim to love him?
On the other hand, if this is really how West feels, it’s safe to that he’ll have to change up his style, maybe even learn how to play the guitar, as Stagecoach will be the only music festival that welcomes him next year.