Kanye West stirs controversies that some Chicagoans find destructive

The whirlwind of controversy encircling the Chicago rapper born Kanye West could have created widespread ripples of stories throughout business, style, politics and social media, nevertheless it has raised nary a peep in his hometown, although a number of voices are talking out in opposition to his latest outbursts.

The rapper who legally modified his identify to Ye has been on the heart of a media firestorm that has alienated him from former business companions amid accusations of antisemitism.

Last weekend, he reignited claims of antisemitism following the discharge of his interview for the podcast “Drink Champs,” the place he questioned the reason for George Floyd’s demise and recycled previous tropes about Jewish money and affect.

“They hit him with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that,” West claimed on Sunday’s episode of the Revolt TV present “Drink Champs.” Floyd died in May 2020 after Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for about 9 minutes. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 ½ years behind bars final year on homicide and manslaughter prices in Minnesota, and 21 years in July after a federal trial.

In the identical interview, he additionally recommended “Jewish Zionists” have been behind a latest disclosure by his former spouse, Kim Kardashian. “On TMZ, I just saw yesterday, they said, ‘Pete Davidson and Kim have sex by the fireplace to honor their grandmother.’ It’s Jewish Zionists that’s about that life, that’s telling this Christian woman that has four Black children to put that out as a message in the media.”

Recently, the Anti-Defamation League said Ye’s comments “espouse antisemitic tropes about Jewish intimidation, power and control.”

Following threats of authorized motion, Floyd’s household launched a press release confirming they have been looking for $250 million in a lawsuit in opposition to Ye.

Following his most up-to-date feedback, few if any notable locals even addressed his statements, and even fewer Black voices.

Despite previous controversies comparable to his notorious “slavery was a choice” remark, some say the 24 Grammy-winning rapper and author and clothes designer behind the Yeezy sports activities shoe stays a revered determine in Chicago, the place he as soon as promised schoolchildren that he was shifting again. West has helped native rappers comparable to Chief Keef and Chance the Rapper achieve a wider viewers.

“Kanye is not losing fans, at least it doesn’t seem like that in my world,” mentioned media writer Morgan Elise Johnson. “For those Kanye disciples, they’re just kind of rolling with him no matter what he says or does at this point and I’ve learned that I’m not going to convince these people. For us, it’s a constant battle about what Kanye’s messaging we are going to address or not,” Johnson mentioned.

Johnson’s on-line tradition publication, The Triibe, and its workers have taken to fact-checking West’s controversial statements as a method of countering what they name misinformation. “We’ve been having that conversation internally on how much energy do we give it,” Johnson mentioned. “If we pick on it, are we emphasizing it? If we ignore it, are we letting misinformation spread unchecked? It’s a constant back and forth.”

Over the weekend, Triibe editor in chief Tiffany Walden posted hyperlinks to fact-checked data relating to the rapper’s claims, representing one of many few black entities prepared to handle it.

Johnson mentioned she was fearful that his statements, notably the feedback on Floyd, might weaken the laborious fought beneficial properties made by group grassroots activists who’ve constructed networks between the police deaths of Michael Brown and Floyd.

“Everything that happened with Donald Trump happened because words resonated with people and it mobilized a lot of White supremacist activity that is making present times really dangerous for Black people,” Johnson mentioned. “And I just really wish Kanye understood that and that his words were baiting and undermining a lot of progressive grassroots work that is being done, particularly by Black women and queer youths.”

Another uncommon space voice who spoke out in opposition to the rapper’s feedback was legal professional and native media persona Exavier Pope, who posted a number of important posts of the rapper’s latest statements, calling them destructive.

Pope, who runs his personal legislation agency, shared considerations related to Johnson relating to the rapper’s flip towards proper wing politics that started along with his alignment with Donald Trump. Seeing himself as a social media “referee,” Pope mentioned he felt compelled to talk out in opposition to his phrases whereas nonetheless holding on to his respect for the person.

“I thought Kanye West was misusing his platform,” Pope instructed the Tribune this week. “People have a responsibility when they have a platform, particularly in the time that we’re living in, when we see attack on civil rights and voting rights.”

“This is someone who has done so much in the industry and has been outspoken in very positive ways. Why go cut against the grain and then go a completely different direction? This is the wrong time in history. This is the wrong time in your life to be saying and doing some of these things and the net effect of this is damaging to the African American community,” Pope mentioned.

The disconnect between the rapper and his controversial feedback is frequent chorus for followers who want to separate an artist’s work from their unpopular views, mentioned Paul Booth, a DePaul professor who research popular culture.

“That to me is interesting — that there are people that don’t want to talk about anything other than the art because they don’t think it matters, and then there are people that think that that’s all that matters,” Booth mentioned.

Afternoon Briefing


Chicago Tribune editors’ prime story picks, delivered to your inbox every afternoon.

He agreed there are followers who attempt to “separate politics from the artist certainly by people that like the art. It’s easy to say, ‘All I want to talk about is the art because that’s all that’s really important,’ but then there’s lots of other people who might say, ‘You can’t separate art from the artist and the beliefs and values and the actions of the artist themselves plays a role in the art.’ When you buy Kanye West’s albums or downloads, you are passively and financially supporting someone.

“Artist’s background is important, but I don’t think there’s an answer to that. I think everyone has to decide for themselves how they feel about, but everyone should be aware of it happening.”

Johnson mentioned she hopes the rapper will likely be extra aware of his public statements as younger activists work doggedly to create a response to rising extremist sentiment.

“Words matter. I go back and forth with people all the time. It was just words on a shirt with ‘White Lives Matter’ on it. And I’m saying nothing is just words on a shirt. If that was the case, advertising wouldn’t matter. Lyrics wouldn’t matter. Books wouldn’t matter. Nothing would matter.”

The New York Daily News contributed.

[email protected]

Twitter @Midnoircowboy

Back to top button