Kanye West made headlines last week—even more than usual—after visiting the White House to meet with his current political idol, President Donald Trump.
While Kanye’s support of Trump may seem to reflect his political beliefs, his jumping on the MAGA train likely has more to do with his artistic philosophy than his political opinions.
Kanye’s music career has been based on doing things that are either outside the mainstream, or things that became the mainstream. A theme in his art has always been distancing himself from norms. His samples and songs draw from any genre you can think of, and the broad artistic scope of his albums are the opposite of consistency.
Musically and artistically, Kanye is a contrarian—he takes opposing views and rejects majority opinion. His hotly debated, right-leaning political activities over the past year align with that same theme: he’s rejecting the popular or mainstream.
Musically and artistically, Kanye is a contrarian—he takes opposing views and rejects majority opinion.
Since Kanye’s recent political stances don’t seem to fit any historical trend, it’s reasonable to believe he supports Trump because it’s the contrarian thing to do—rather than some case of political motivation.
He has no history of assured political leanings. He’s not a Republican, as evidenced by his comments on live TV regarding George Bush not caring about Black people during Hurricane Katrina. He’s also had a public feud with former Democratic president Barack Obama, who called Kanye a “jacka—” after the latter’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009.
Trump seems to be the first political figure Kanye has supported with enthusiasm, which suggests the reasons behind his support aren’t actually tied to politics.
this represents good and America becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love pic.twitter.com/a15WqI8zgu
— ye (@kanyewest) September 30, 2018
Trump is raw, unpredictable, and says whatever he wants to say—all qualities of Kanye’s music. It shouldn’t be a surprise that someone who extends his art into unpredictable places would use the same philosophy in a political endorsement.
Not only is Trump inconsistent and spontaneous, but within Kanye’s social sphere—Democratic Hollywood—he’s the most reviled political figure, and is therefore the most contrarian political option.
One of Kanye’s most consistent messages justifying his support for Trump is that “Black people don’t have to be Democrats.” It’d make more sense for Kanye, if he were truly Republican or at least conservative, to frame this argument in a positive light—that black people can be Republicans. Instead, it’s more likely the case that Kanye is apolitical and this argument is part of his war against societal norms.
It stands to reason that if the situation was reversed and Hollywood was predominantly Republican—perhaps with Hillary Clinton as president and the majority of Black voters identifying as conservatives—Kanye’s message would be Black people can be Democrats.
The substance of his message isn’t about what should be, but what can be.
All the evidence, from the style of Kanye’s music and personality to the substance of what he says, reveals an artist whose art is reflected in all areas of his life—including his politics.
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