Updated: Oct 25, 2019
One of my students asked me if I had heard that Rihanna was starting a new business venture, a lingerie line. We chatted for a bit about multiple streams of income (and other topics I try to put on the kid’s minds) and I asked if she was planning on supporting Rihanna’s line. She said “Naw, she makes stuff only her friends can afford.” I confirmed that she was brilliant to have figured that out and we talked about the effect that expensive urban trends have on people in poverty. At my break, I checked out my social media timeline and saw all the uproar about Kanye. My student’s words began to echo again. Everybody is expecting him to be young, broke, struggling Kanye. Happy, clever, fun Kanye. But, he already told you “Nah nah nah nah, wait till I get my money right. Then you can’t tell me nothing, right.” If you’re hoping that his new project will redeem him in your eyes, I hate to break it to you but Kanye is not making music for you. He’s making music for his new friends. He’s making clothes and shoes for his new friends and he’s speaking out for his new friends. Not you. Ye broke up with you a long time ago.
“But as a shorty, I looked up to the dope man, only adult man I knew that wasn’t broke man…” So Ye has found a new group of men to look up to. Rich white men, who had frustrated him SO MUCH by leaving him out of an industry he wanted so badly to be a part of, have finally let him have a seat at the table. Of course he’s doing what he has to do to keep his seat. “The prettiest people do the ugliest things for the road to riches and diamond rings…” (Ye and Stacy Dash pun intended) What Ye is doing right now is the ugly side of what it takes for Black men to live inside white society. Many of us don’t understand because we live on the fringes of white society, outside of the inner circles. At best, we may code switch at work in order to maintain our “professionalism” but we get a break when we get back to our communities. He gets no break. He’s in too deep. He’s all alone with them and he’s assimilating “Because they made us hate ourself and love their wealth…” The worst part is, it’s working. He gave up his position as the representative of the people and started speaking for the establishment. He’s a mouthpiece for The Man and the man is rewarding him in ways that our people wouldn’t. “Oh now they love Kanye, let’s put him all in the front of the store.”
So, Jay got him and Rihanna on the label, right? Ye sees his homie’s wife get robbed on the award show. He can’t take it. The whole camp is at their height and he wants the recognition to reflect the grind. He jumps up, he walks on the stage and he speaks on it. He feels so proud. He said what everybody was thinking and he was right! His homies, his partners, the ones he was protecting, shook their heads in unanimous shame. You know he can’t take rejection, what is he supposed to do with the realization that Jay and the President are not on his side…? He had been back and forth with Jay for years, but the President of the whole country called him an asshole for speaking up for Black women over white women. Nothing he did was good enough for Jay. Where are his people? Who are his people? Ye becomes an orphan, an only child with no parents. His only solace becomes the ones who had previously rejected him. The woman who finally decided to give him a chance, comes with a whole family that he can be a part of. She comes with a whole other social circle because her parents were also rich and famous and white. They take him in and give him a place to be.
“ I’m on my way home, I left 3 days ago, but no one seems to know I’m gone. Home is where the hatred is. Home is filled with pain and it might not be such a bad idea if I never go home again.”
So, Ye get’s him a president of his own. He doesn’t have to live in the shadow of Jay anymore. He has a wife, like Jay. 3 kids, like Jay. A president on his call list, like Jay. “Jay’s favorite line, dog in due time. Now he look at me like ‘Damn dog, you’re where I am.” All that and he’s still struggling so hard. He’s struggling from something we haven’t talked about. It’s the same thing we never talk about. It’s the thing we watch happening to celebrity after celebrity and always seemed shocked by. Yeah, his Mama died. Yeah, his ex broke his heart. But, the real problem is he’s an addict. He’s admitted to being on pain killers and street drugs, but he’s also addicted to fame and money. Those can be even more destructive than the medications. Addicts live in a vacuum where nothing is ever enough to fill the void. Addicts are beyond respectability. Addicts speak from a place inside their minds that we cannot access. “Why everything that’s sposed to be bad, makes me feel so good? Everything they told me not to is exactly what I would. Man I tried to stop man, I tried the best I could, but…” We all know it. I knew it for sure when I heard him cry out “I just wanna be a reeeeeeeeal boooooy…” I had heard that before. Not those words, but that pitch and tone of voice. The crack and the pull in it. I had heard that in all of my loved ones who got caught up in that cyclone. He sounded like every student I had who stopped taking their meds in order to be free to think on their own and feel emotions again. I knew it then, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything and I don’t have anything to lose by calling it out. So imagine all those who live off of Kanye. They are defintely not going to call it what it is and risk losing the ride on their cash cow. I knew it and I handled it like I handle my drunk auntie at the family reunion. I forgive it and I ignore it. Everybody know she aint been right since uncle jr touched her, but it’s easier to forgive her than it is to help her. So, I forgave him every time. I’m sure everyone around him forgave him too. And like I did when I “loaned” Aunt Peaches $20, the people around him probably made sure that he wasn’t out in the streets trying to get it. I’m sure they “took care” of him. And each time, he went further away from us.
He still kinda made sense, though, right? He still might understand what he’s doing. Maybe he CAN quit whenever he wants to. When I heard New Slaves, I was sure he wasn’t too far gone. When I heard I Love Kanye, I knew the guy I admired for his sense of humor was still in there, somewhere. When I heard Real Friends… I felt that. So, I didn’t blame him. I understood, and because I did, I let him go. But… but… his Mama died. But… but… his wife is white. I guess I did like all his homies did. All the acts on his label, the ones on the label he’s signed to, the folks in his camp who cared too much to watch him up close, we all felt better thinking we let him go. We wanted to feel better about losing him by pretending we broke up with him. Even at the end of Ye vs The People, TI had to just give up on the dude on HIS OWN TRACK! The sad part is, Ye is not mourning this break up. He already told us “And if I knew what I knew in the past, I woulda been blacked out on yo ass.”
So, I’m pretty sure that if any of us tried to reach out at this point, we’d probably get an automated reply saying… “Sorry, Mr. West is gone!”