We’ve reached the cold and early darkness which is the month of December. At this point all news and media outlets across the globe are making their top lists of the past year. The top news stories, the tops music, top movies, top mother’s recipes, top blowouts, top meltdowns, top deaths, and many more tops for you to remember this time next year.
One of my favorites is the top music released, spanning all the genres and beyond, this past year. In the realm of Hip Hop I feel that the best was the Run the Jewels LP. The collaboration between Brooklyn indie avant-garde MC and producer El-P and the hard hitting AT-alien Killer Mike. However, certain lists I’ve seen have placed Kanye West at the tippy top with his post-Hip Hop minimalist tirade. Yeezus is topping the list, and to a certain extent I agree. Like the great album by El-P and Killer Mike, Yeezus is clear and straight to the point. He takes many swipes and jabs at the American dream while relishing in the fact that he made it and you didn’t. The beats are biting with heft, yet the stripped down production makes these beats even more menacing to the ear. In songs like “New Slaves” and “Black Skinheads” his seething comments on race are poignant and strongly articulated. It is true, as we’ve seen in the most recent cases of young African Americans being stopped at big name departments stores like Macy’s and Barney’s. It is very true that as an unknown black man you’ll be followed and scoped out at any upper tear store, not to mention the same treatment of Latino youth as well. However, if you’re a well known celebrity the clerks up to the top manager will be kissing your ass all through the store. This inconsistent, irrational and ridiculousness is as home grown as American pie. This is a reason why the media often times portray Kanyeeze as arrogant. Because he is an outspoken successful African American male he is targeted, like past rebel rousers from Jack Johnson to Muhammed Ali. Why aren’t the many white celebrities knocked for their arrogance? Because history didn’t shape it around them and their cultural perceptions the way they were shaped around African American men and women. Africans, and later African Americans were usually portrayed in the many cultural mediums as a menace and sexual threat. This remains the case as the population is fed that this specific race is more prone to vices such as drug addiction, sexual lasciviousness, and idleness amidst poverty stricken situations.
As much as Kanye can have those annoyances, and rubbing it in the world’s face it’s still his right. What is more interesting is that he, out of all the mainstream African American rappers, has shook the rafters with many statements that at first seem loaded and bizarre. However, like all kernels there is truth to what he says. When he pronounced loud and clear on national television that President George W. Bush “hates black people” he sent shockwaves. President Bush isn’t racist. However, his Republican party, and other conservatives not affiliated with the party, have displayed some racist shit. The fact that tea baggers carried signs depicting President Obama as an African caricature and they were mum is a sign that racism still lives, and is allowed. Kanye also recently released a music video for the magnum closer to his album “Bound 2” in which his main squeeze is top less. I bet most critics are pissed at his supposed flaunting, because deep down inside they’re still pissed at seeing a popular black dude with a white girl. As he rapped on the song “New Slaves” he bellows out that “They see a black man with a white woman, at the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong.” The contradictions know no bounds in this country, and all across the universe for that matter. It should be noted that there have been other MC’s who have spoken on these truths like Mos Def, Immortal Technique, Dead Prez, and Mr. Lif to name a few. However, they haven’t reached critical mass therefore not as much exposure as Kanye.
This unspoken issue of racism needs to be opened and as candid as possible. Kanye might be full of himself, but he’s also full of ideas that with the right dialogue could yield concrete results. If we continue in this culture of silence amidst these injustices we’ll keep seeing things get worse. Prisons will keep growing while enslaving their prisoners, conditions to help inner city poverty stricken communities will drop, and these new shootings for defense are literally becoming the new form of lynchings. Although instead of the blatant hanging on the blood soaked trees, there will be shootings and blood soaked lawns. I don’t care of the technicalities because if a person shoots another, they should be held accountable. Even in the Torah if a person innocently kills another human being, and that has a huge Talmudic debate I won’t try to explain here, they have to flee or be held accountable. We are all accountable for our actions and if you shoot and kill, you should be held or at least pay for the loss of life. In the Torah it reads “an eye for an eye,” but most of us look at it all wrong. It is not literal, as most Christians and zealots understand it. What it really means is if you are responsible for someone losing an eye you have to compensate them monetarily. Money or none, there should be some soul searching because without that we are lost and soulless. Thank you Kanye for that.
Here’s Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” video:
Here’s Kanye’s video for “Bound 2” with his lady Kim Kardashian