What makes Donald Trump interesting to me and sets him above other politicians that he runs against is three things: he's an unabashed dick, he's an entertainer, and he appeals to a group of people that are/feel marginalized.
I would put Kanye in the same vein. Kanye isn't a nice guy. He goes out of his way to not smile for pictures. He runs up on stage to tell Taylor that he'll let her finish but that she didn't deserve her award. Then makes a song about her saying that he'll probably "f*** her because he "made dat b**** famous."
What a cad.
Plus, he's sold millions of records, and he often acts as a self-proclaimed voice for black artists everywhere, a historically, and to this day, marginalized group.
While Kanye's main audience of urban black youth is vastly different from Trump's main audience of uneducated, blue-collar white Americans, both of them have the same draw, that same charisma that stems from their abrasive selves.
So, based on the unreasonable popularity of both of these guys, I want to take a look at the similarities between Kanye and Trump in more depth, and try to prove to you that with their similarities, perhaps in a few years, Kanye can reach the same kind of success that Trump has had in the political field. And with news coming in that Trump has become the presumptive Republican nominee, perhaps the opponent we need to overthrow him is simply another version of himself: Kanye Omari West.
1. They have an established, diehard fanbase that excuse their actions.
One of the key things that made Donald Trump announcing his run for presidency unique was his notoriety from the get-go. It wasn't like he was some unknown vaulting himself into stardom, or even a politician at all; he'd been basking in stardom for some time. He first burst onto the scene for me whenever I saw ads on television for "The Apprentice," where I heard the immortal words, "You're fired." It was obvious to me even from a young age that he was a very rich man with a very big personality. It was only in later years (indeed, since he burst on the political scene) that I learned more about him, about his failed business ventures, his exorbitant living, his privileged upbringing, and his countless tactless, yet supremely confident sound bytes. The man has been for years been a celebrity, and celebrities always have a following. More than that though, Trump has a following that is strangely loyal despite all of his shortcomings. And his followers aren't just uneducated idiots, he has followers from all sorts of, often confounding, backgrounds:
Forgive the language towards the end of that video, but I think you'll be just as confused as I am by seemingly intelligent people using academic gobbledegook to defend and rationalize Trump. His followers are unshakeable.
It's a similar situation with Kanye. While Kanye hasn't hit the campaign trail yet and doesn't yet have similar videos of academics rationalizing his own decisions, he does have a following that finds it difficult to properly criticize him. The reason why I believe is because "the left" loves Kanye. While it's been extremely easy for the media to hate on Donald Trump because of his appeal to "the right" a generalized group of people that is easily demonized by the media, I find it hard to find anything that effectively demonizes Kanye in the media.
While it is a popular, and frankly tiresome trope of the right and of conservatives in general to say that the media is left-dominated and that those on the right never get a fair shake, they aren't wrong in the least. While I believe the right uses this attack as another reason why "the world hates us" instead of an opportunity for true self-examination, the proof is fairly present that the left finds it very difficult, even impossible to judge itself. So, when faced with a black, politically incorrect rapper, instead of demonizing him, the media says that he's got problems, but we love him anyways, because he says what we're all thinking. The problem is, people say much the same about Trump.
It would take a special kind of self-awareness I think to realize this hypocrisy, as a journalist either leaning right or left; that both of our favourites politically incorrect celebrities are loved for the same reasons. But that kind of self-awareness is hard to come by and much harder to publish.
In any case, it's clear that Kanye and Trump both have established fan bases for different reasons who also defend him for different reasons. In fact, it's interesting that their appeals seem to lie on different sides of a spectrum, but the blindness and/or justification of their faults remain the same. And we will protect those that we stand behind, just as Donald Trump's fans show, and just as Kanye's fans show.
2. They don't give a f*** (censored for political correctness).
Donald and Kanye just don't care.
They do what they want, offend whoever they want, and people still love them. And even if people don't love them, they love what they do and are able to do.
I tweeted a while ago that I was finding it hard to reconcile my love for Kanye's "Ultralight Beam" off of his new album Life of Pablo with my intense dislike for him as a person. That song is straight fire, a stellar combination of gospel of rap that while searing and new still acts as an ode to the gospel roots of not only Kanye but many of his featured artists (i.e. Chance the Rapper) as well as the roots of those that he is trying to reach. He's a good, even great musical artist.
Donald Trump is also looked at by many Americans as someone different because he isn't just another politician who grew up Ivy League, got a law degree, and got involved in politics. While from a significantly privileged background (case in point his small loan of a million dollars from his father), he is not a politician. He is a businessman, who has failed multiple times, faced bankruptcy more than once, yet still, stands at the top. He's a living symbol of what the American dream is supposed to be: capitalistic, a bastion of individual accomplishment despite of obstacles. This is a dream that has faded in cynicism for many, but he stands as someone and speaks as someone for whom the American dream has worked, and he promises to make it a reality for everyone. This speaks to people for whom life has not worked out as they might have wished.
Both Kanye and Trump then speak to the realities of their main audiences, realities that are frustrating, and deeply rooted in experience and emotion. Just take a look at Kanye's rant after Beck won the Grammy for Album of the Year. While he teased going on stage, he left his monologue for afterwards.
He went on a rant about how Beck didn't deserve the award, and really, that he should have given it away. Rightly, he got a lot of pushback on what he said. But, he also touched a lot of issues that probably do stick in the minds of especially black artists everywhere: that they still don't the respect from the establishment that they deserve.
This is the important thing behind the brash and rude way that Trump and Kanye make their voices known: they're speaking to a certain group that want to hear what they have to say.
More than that, Kanye detractors look at what he did to Beck, and what he's done to Taylor, and despise him for it. Most of us who will read this post look at Trump and what he's done and despise him for that as well.
This shows to me that another thing that these two have in common is their ability to deepen the trenches. What they say and the way that they say it fuels both their detractors and their supporters, moving them from like to love, and dislike to hate.
Both of them fit the definition of polarizing to a capital 'P,' and the way that they are able to strengthen the arguments for both their supporters and detractors with every word they say is astounding.
3. Their success is unimaginable... yet terrifyingly plausible.
A few years ago, or even just a year ago, could any of us have imagined that Donald Trump would have this much success? Could any of us have imagined that Trump would be the presumptive Republican nominee? I mean, look at this screen. John Kasich and Ted Cruz, well known and established politicians, are losing to a reality TV star.
And with recent word coming in that Ted Cruz is dropping out of the race, it seems as if what once seemed to be unimaginable has become a reality. If this is any indicator, can we truly not even entertain the fact that Trump could become president?
So dream (or nightmare if you will) with me. What if Trump does become president, and then Kanye runs in the next election.
Can you think of any better opponent to Trump? Who else checks these questions off better than Kanye?
- Someone who is loved and reviled for the same reasons but by different fanbases?
- Someone who is rich and powerful beyond the political sphere?
- Someone who seems just as unlikely to become president as Trump?
K A N Y E W E S T.
Just imagine a debate between the two.
There wouldn't be any better show on television. Imagine all the racism that would spew out of Donald's mouth, or the offensive arrogance that Kanye would exhibit. A battle of egos that the world has never seen before.
For entertainment's sake, I really hope this happens.
For the sake of our existence in the Western world as we know it though, I'd much rather it didn't.