I can assure you this is by no means an attack on West, Trump, or have anything to do with politics. West's long list of respected work speaks for itself, but both his and Trump's expert manipulation of the public's thirst for shock value content is either a skill or a curse worth noting.
https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/410097053021130752 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/787258211283918848 https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/522897870891261952?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/705099806834823168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Kanye West and Donald Trump…both are devoted celebrity personas that strategically and brilliantly utilize social media and various public antics to maintain relevancy in the news to grasp popularity. All the while maintaining a blindless group of fans supporting their lack of restraint banters; regardless of how inappropriate, rude or offensive it may be at times.
Twelve BET Awards, two AMA Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, twenty-one Grammy Awards, three VMA's and the list goes on for Kanye but the majority of those awards all occurred between 2004-2013. Since 2013, West has picked up two achievement awards and one BET Hip Hop Made-You-Look Award. The number of awards one has is by no means a measurement of their success or their contribution to music. This sudden decline in accolades is a simple observation when put in contrast to his simultaneous increase of online presence. Although Life of Pablo contained an all-star cast of producers and featured artists, West's outlandish stunts and his willingness to do or say whatever it takes to remain in the headlines has slowly been taking the spotlight over his music. A similar trait that many attributed to the popularity and success accrued by Donald Trump during his race to the white house. Audiences crave these antics and the media gets off anytime either of these two has a comment about anything. But is it because we have all reinforced this type of controversial behavior that these two have been unable to differentiate between their public stunts and reality?
Let's separate Trump for a bit. To understand what led Kanye to begin embracing this antic-crazed behavior we have to quickly go back. It's 2004, West just stormed out of the AMA awards after losing "Best New Artist" to country star Gretchen Wilson. and telling the press, "I was definitely robbed, I was the best new artist this year." This was our first real taste of West demonstrating a shallow level of humility but gaining greater public attention for it.
It's now 2005, Hurricane Katrina – “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” In 2006, while attending the MTV Europe Music Awards, West lost the best video award to Justice vs. Simian and crashed their acceptance speech with: “If I don’t win, the award show loses credibility.”
Losing out all five nominations during the 2007 MTV award show, West declared that he would never come back to an MTV award show. He returned anyways to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, where he infamously jumped onstage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for "Best Female Video." He followed this up again in 2015 while interrupting Beck's acceptance speech for "Album of the Year" during the Grammys. Kind of like a child that does something bad but then sees that everyone starts laughing while telling him no, so he does it again and again.
Because of the successful, expert level trolling that keeps West in the spotlight, many people have considered it to be a positive hallmark on his overall character. "Kanye being Kanye" can quite easily be compared to "Trump tells it as it is."
Enough fans have been able to separate the music from the man and thus has allowed people like Kanye and Trump to continue an unorthodox method of building popularity to be left unchecked. Albums like The College Dropout or Graduation never needed Kanye's public stunts for the public admiration. The music has always spoken for itself. But in recent years we have begun to see the musician formerly known as Kanye West, unfortunately, become the celebrity persona known as Kanye West.
In 2017, we in the music industry need to ask ourselves if capitalizing on promiscuous news stories filled with shock value content the fastest road to success? In the age of memes, you bet your ass it is. And both West and Trump are kings of it, but at what cost?
Everything from claiming Bill Cosby is innocent to asking billionaire Mark Zuckerberg for a $1 BILLION investment, Kanye has devoted a large portion of his time and energy over the past few years to distractions that take away from his music. Showing up to a concert late, skipping through tracks, ranting for an hour and then just leaving early is sadly something Kanye has done many times before. So when he repeated this behavior over the weekend, you can understand why so many people were quick to dismiss an exhausted, overworked musician as just pulling another one of his stunts.