Kanye West continues to respond to the left’s backlash against his recent tweets indicating his support for President Donald Trump. The left, of course, has mobilized to tear him down.
The media has questioned his sanity. Others on the left have reverted to one of their favorite tactics: name calling. They claim the entertainer has fallen into the “sunken place,” a reference indicating that West has been taken over by evil white people. Some have used other familiar epithets often levied against blacks who reject the Democratic party. They have called him a coon, Uncle Tom, and a traitor.
Other musicians have joined the fray. Singer John Legend had a contentious, albeit civil debate with the rapper over text messages. However, most recently, T.I., another hip-hop artist and a friend of Kanye West, decided to use music to sway his opinion. The two rappers recently released a track in which they rap about their differing opinions on Trump and the state of black politics. The rap battle provides a window through which we can see the disconnect between the black political status quo and Kanye’s efforts to encourage free thinking.
Ye vs The People
The track, titled “Ye vs The People” features both Kanye West and T.I. exchanging arguments through lyrics. T.I. represents the voice of the people while Kanye represents his own views. The song starts out with West declaring that Trump’s 2016 victory proved that the rapper could also become president. T.I. responds by stating that West is going against the ideas for which he stood previously. “Yeah, you can, at what cost though,” he raps. “Don’t that go against the teachings that Ye taught for?”
T.I. also questions where West intends to take his arguments: “But where you tryna go with this? It’s some sh*t you just don’t align with and don’t go against.”
West responds, “You just readin’ the headlines, you don’t see the fine print. You on some choosin’ side sh**, I’m on some unified sh**.”
Translation: T.I. believes that what Trump and his supporters stand for is something with which West should not associate. West responds by stating that there is more to this than what the media is selling. Indeed, West states that T.I. and those who agree with him are more focused on division than on finding areas of common ground.
Later in the song, West brings up the reason why he posted a picture of himself wearing a MAGA hat. “Bruh, I never ever stopped fightin’ for the people. Actually wearin’ the hat’ll show people that we equal,” he said.
T.I. responded “You gotta see the vantage point of the people. What makes you feel equal makes them feel evil.’
This particular exchange is indicative of the overall political discourse between the left and the right — it transcends race. West is representing those on both the left and the right that wish to see an end to the nastiness in our political debate. Like many others, he sees the futility in the constant demonization of the other side.
On the other hand, T.I. is like many — especially on the left — that see Trump and his supporters as hateful bigots who want to keep blacks down. It’s the same message the left has been parroting to the black community for decades. West has a harsh rebuke of T.I.’s comments.
He says, “See, that’s the problem with this damn nation. All blacks gotta be Democrats, man, we ain’t made it off the plantation.”
Like many others on the left, T.I. also slams West for seeming to turn his back on those who made him famous in favor of people who “seem crude and cold-hearted.” He says, “you wore a dusty-ass hat to represent the same views as white supremacy, man, we expect better from you.”
After a scathing verse from T.I., West accuses him and the rest of his critics of fomenting hate. “Y’all been leadin’ with hate, see I just approach it different,” he says. “Like a gang truce, the first Blood to shake the Crip’s hand.”
West then criticizes the fact that the left would rather that he fall into the expected stereotype for rappers:
“I know everybody emotional. Is it better if I rap about crack? Huh? ‘Cause it’s cultural? Or how about Imma shoot you, or f*** your b****? Or how bout all this Gucci ‘cause I’m f***in’ rich?’
The song eventually ends with both men agreeing to let the people decide where they stand.
What Does This Mean?
This track represents the chasm between those who embrace the political division between Americans and others who wish to find common ground. It’s easy to see the differing attitudes in the song. It is interesting to note that Kanye West has not come out as a conservative — indeed, he has also tweeted that he loves Hillary Clinton. He also tweeted his support for Emma Gonzalez, a pro-gun control student who was present during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
While the rapper is certainly expressing right-leaning beliefs, his overall message is that Americans who disagree with one another should still come to the table to discuss their issues in a civil manner. West is encouraging the American public to stop demonizing those on the other side of the aisle. Unfortunately, this is not a popular message in 2018. Indeed, the rapper is still being bombarded by the left for his refusal to accept the status quo that is expected of him.
Is it possible that Kanye West is opening the door for more minorities to reject the left’s message of victimhood? Sure. But it is unclear whether or not his stand for free thinking will encourage others to come out in support of his stance. Only time will tell.