Kanye West is hailed as one of the most talented producers in hip-hop, but over the past several years he’s tainted his reputation with controversial statements. If we’re all being honest here, “tainted” really isn’t the right word, considering that West’s career has barely taken a hit from any of his outrageous statements. Early projections show that “Jesus is King” — his ninth LP that released in October — will sell between 230,000 and 260,000 units in its first week, setting him up to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 charts.
I find it funny how just one year ago, West proclaimed that “slavery was a choice,” and is still open in his support for President Donald Trump, sparking a backlash from current and former fans. The majority of his adversaries, however, have collectively moved on. The stance that “you can separate the art from the artist” is easy to say when you’re in a privileged position. To the real people who are affected by Trump’s policies, West’s support of the president is harmful and can’t be erased. I find it disgusting that people can openly easily defend West despite his problematic character.
Some may see his actions as harmless, but let’s not forget that West has countless fans, some of which see him as “Yeezus,” the idol and god. Kanye knows his words have immense power, and whenever he says something, his millions of followers, especially the young and impressionable ones, eat it up and their opinions are influenced by the things he says. When he openly supports our racist and bigoted president, some of his young fans may also decide to listen to Trump’s dangerous rhetoric as well. When he says that “slavery was a choice,” those same young fans may take his opinion as fact, without researching the violent consequences of slave rebellion.
There is this misconception that West has suddenly turned over a new leaf and that because he has accepted Christ as his savior, all his prior statements are forgiven. If you believe this, put on your clown nose and your red wig because congratulations, you’ve been played.
West knows exactly what he is doing by hosting his Sunday Services and making an album about Jesus. He’s branding himself as a man of God as a way to get his fans to collectively forget about all of the bad things he’s done, even though he’s showed no signs of having changed for the better.
West is using Christianity as a marketing ploy and I have to admit, it’s smart as hell. The sad thing is that he’s openly acknowledging and making a mockery out of those who are supporting him after everything he’s done. He even said himself, “I done been killed so many times on social media, and I’m still here. I’m still talking. Look at me.”
I can’t sit here and claim that I’m the most perfect, woke person ever. If I’m being honest, I’m kind of a hypocrite. I have songs from artists like 6ix9ine on my playlist when I know that he’s a Hispanic who openly uses the n-word. I look up to people like Conor McGregor even though he’s openly said racist things about his opponents. I’m a fan of BTS despite their past slip-ups. I’m a huge fan of the Migos despite their flagrant history of homophobic remarks. All of these men have been canceled by social media at one time or another, but it hasn’t stopped them from making money or having successful careers.
The real question is, where do we draw the line when it comes to who we support and who we don’t? Do we only cancel those who have done harmful things, or do we completely cut out any problematic person or someone who supports problematic people?
Ultimately none of us are perfect, and I don’t expect anyone to completely stop listening to someone because they said something problematic, especially if it’s an artist that you love or idolize. What I don’t accept, however, is excusing or defending that artist’s actions. Despite listening to problematic artists, I can recognize that they aren’t always right. The problem with stan culture today is fans feel obligated to unconditionally support their favorite artists no matter what they do. If you go on social media and disagree with what an artist said, their hive will suddenly berate you and decide that you can’t call yourself a fan anymore. As a collective, fans shouldn’t be afraid to go against something that an artist they love has done. I personally draw the line at artists who have done things that I find to be particularly heinous, such as R. Kelly or XXXTentacion.
If you’re gonna listen to a problematic artist, at least be consciously aware of their history and how they could have been wrong. And when you do add a problematic artist to your playlist, just make sure to put on your red wig and clown nose.