If you haven't seen Kanye West's
recent visit to TMZ yet, now might be a good time to subject yourself to the absurdity. While rattling off juicy tidbits like "Slavery is a choice", "I was on drugs the first time I visited Trump" and "Your reality is a choice", West abjectly refuses to hear other people's arguments and continues on with an IRL version of his Twitter feed:
Some of it's funny, but for the most part Kanye's behavior comes off as insensitive, ignorant and basically just gibberish. As a "musical genius" and black man in 2018 America, he's let a lot of people down.
In what could be a direct response, Childish Gambino
recently released video for "This Is America" comes packed with symbolism and political/historic imagery referencing the black experience and American gun culture (read about it here
On the surface, Gambino and West have some similarities. They are both widely lauded as some of the most talented artists making music today. Neither is afraid of dicussingt race. And both are outspoken online and IRL.
But after watching both videos in tandem, we can't help but notice that's where the similarities end. They're no more similar than pre-2015 Kylie Jenner and post-lip injection Kylie.
On one hand, you've got a maniac (Kanye) spouting insensitive and racist things about African Americans that would be self-referential if Kanye wasn't so far removed from reality. On the other, you've got a perfectly reasonable artist making not-so-subtle comments on the racism that still exists in this world. Contrary to Kanye's beliefs, racism ain't over yet.
When it comes to Kanye, what we have here is a run-of-the-mill, "let them eat cake" type of celebrity detachment from the normal world. While it must be nice for him, it's also kind of wrong...especially for someone like Kanye who knows what oppression looks and feels like. What happened to "George Bush doesn't care about black people"? It's like Kanye forgot people would actually hear what he had to say, or that they might disagree.
The remedy for that, of course, is more noise. And that's where "This is America" comes in. Maybe it can serve as a reminder to powerful people like Kanye West...people who are so padded out with wealth and fame that they can't even see that we still have a lot of problems to fix.
And no...sh*tty, half-assed mixes like "Ye vs. The People" won't fix anything. But maybe music videos about gun violence and the media and black America can.