I know that Kanye West’s intense emotions and antics have made him a bit of a mockery amongst us onlookers of the entertainment industry. I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed tumblrs like this, but I’ve come around. And I have to say, his latest comments at his show in London were a hit with me.
“Remind me again why we in this shit/ Remind me again why we in this/ Since when was making music about getting rich?/ Since when was making art about getting rich/ Remind me again why we in this shit/ Remind me again why the grammies could suck my dick/ Remind me again who’s the original super fly/ And I got love for HOV but I ain’t fucking with that suit and tie/ Remind me again/ Why we in this shit.
“And every motherfucking sponsorship/ They try to put their logos all over the concerts and shit/ For a meet and greet/ And you gotta meet the execs and they daughter/ And they show you what they just bought her/ Remind me why we in this shit/ Real niggas don’t live to long in this shit.
They saying, ‘Ye, you coming on too strong in this shit’/ They always talking about me doing wrong in this shit/ Why I ain’t give a fuck about everything, dick/ I could give a fuck about you, dick/ Remind me why we in this shit/ I lost my mother fucking momma/ so i could give a fuck about your comments/ I promise/ I promise/ Cause we all gunna die one day but I’m gunna live my life my way.”
Please corporations? Can you please support me, Please? Me, Kanye West? I swear I’m a nice nigga now. I swear I’ll put the pink polo back on. I swear to you. Please? Just for three million dollars. I need it so bad. I need a new pool in my back yard. So I’ll tell all my fans your shit is cool. And if they believe in me they should also believe in you . . . Did we get the check yet? Did the corporation send the check yet? What’s my public rating right now? Are people liking me again? Enough to get some money from the corporations? Are they liking me now? They forgot about the whole Beyonce thing right? Ok cool. Is it okay now?”
His main gripe is about the direct conflict between the commercialized nature of the music industry (artists sometimes literally become walking commercials for certain products/companies) and his art, which is making music. This is a very legitimate beef, especially you consider how marginalized hip hop artists are in the music industry as a whole. These days we see more and more hip hop artists “crossing over” to more mainstream sounds. (Reference Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, etc.) I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of these artists are people of color.
Kanye West provided honest and sincere commentary about how artists of color are under pressure to conform to narrow, homogenous industry standards and be “good niggers” in order to remain eligible for endorsement deals. While the exploitation of Black images, bodies, and culture is able to skyrocket some of these artists out of the average tax bracket, it is still exploitation nonetheless. We see this struggle in artists like Beyonce who teamed up with Michelle Obama for a campaign against childhood obesity but just signed a multi-million dollar deal with Pepsi, when soda consumption is a leading factor in obesity in America.
When we factor in gender performance and norms, another area that Kanye has been criticized for, it makes sense to me when he goes off during his concert–and by the way, it clearly wasn’t just a rant; he had obviously created a platform to make those comments in the show–and wonders when “making music became about getting rich.” His tact may be lacking, but I think Kanye was onto something we should all be mindful of.