Do you recall the day the College Dropout album was first released? Many of us were confused college students as we saw our identities reflected for the first time through Kanye’s debut album. We were awakening and recovering from the constant barrage of violent music we were subjected to during the most gangster era of hip hop from 1987-2003. This was a time of CDs, physical album packaging, Circuit City and long white tees. The year was 2004. Kanye’s College Dropout CD insert booklet contains throwback school photos of the artists featured on the album. The photo of Jamie Foxx flaunting the Jerry Curl with the Jacket thrown over the shoulder, Miami Vice style, is iconic to say the very least.
The bottom right-hand corner of the same insert contains the image of Kanye West looking as young and optimistic as ever. With his collar popped and a billion-dollar smile, Kanye appears most obviously destined for greatness despite the picture’s subtext, “most unlikely to succeed”. Kanye West, the gentleman from Illinois, is running for President.
Kanye’s music has always reflected messaging about Chicago’s socio-political climate. Chicago is a rugged city in the shadows of demolished public housing high-rises and social isolation. News reports of murder and tragedy are a constant intrusive sound bite that plays gently as the score of the city.
Kanye in some ways deflated Chicago’s Al Capone gangster complex and started a conversation about insecurities, identities and institutions. This conversation became the utterances of youth across the globe. Some expressed themselves best-regurgitating lyrics, others often sang choruses and hooks as if they were Millenium oscillated spirituals. Kanye gave this generation a soundtrack of rebellion and many came to love him for his courageous voice and amazing production. This is the person some now call the “Old Ye”.
Just as Kanye blazed a trail of unique production coupled with simple and impactful lyricism, we have come to know Kanye as a serious provocateur who rejects the consensus of conformity as a true show of mental enslavement. Normalcy is the absolute epitome of insanity and insanity is the epitome of a breakthrough in the realm of Kanye West. When the world walks left, you better believe Kanye will walk to the right. This approach breeds Kanye’s tremendously unique process in crafting recordings, curating performances and designing apparel. But, this approach also leaves Kanye on the fringe and at the margins when it comes to issues of politics and social cohesion. Still, Kanye is running for President of the United States in 2020.
Perhaps it is easier to accept Kanye as a mentally sick and sinister monster on an ego-driven quest, than to see him simply as a resilient person who wants to help. Nonetheless, Kanye’s would-be electors must receive assurance of his wellness and fitness to serve as Commander-in-Chief as he seeks to sway voters. The question of mental health has found its way into the 2020 election in a number of peculiar ways. Often, certain media outlets push the toxic narratives of ‘Trump derangement’ and ‘Senile uncle Joe’. Kanye’s campaign will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as his very public reconciliation with his own mental health is well documented. Perhaps a Kanye West inauguration would be a major victory for the community of mental health advocates looking to shift the nation’s perception of mental health.
Kanye’s political run will be underscored by a series of questions. These questions are born out of Kanye’s history of public rants, very combative interviews and public appearances. Is Kanye a tool of White Supremacy? Was slavery a choice? What is Kanye’s affilliation with “Blexit”? What is going on with Donda’s House? Why should anyone vote for Kanye? These questions are at the heart of Kanye’s political persona and must be explored thoroughly as we seek to better understand this more Trump admiring and conservative iteration of Kanye West.
At the heart of Kanye’s political shift to the right is the notion of self-sufficiency. Kanye’s understanding of self-sufficiency is in the vein of conservatism most famously espoused by the likes of Thomas Sowell, Candace Owens and Larry Elders. It implies a rejection of state support which has alienated black fathers and rendered Black mothers dependent upon the governmental structures and some Black families destroyed.
We have witnessed Kanye West and Kim Kardashian increase their advocacy for prison reform over the course of the last few years, resulting in the ‘First Step Act’. Kanye and Kim vehemetly believe incarceration is not grounds for enslavement. It is fair to assume Kanye will be a strong advocate for 13th ammendment reform. According to Kanye, the nation hasn’t actually abolished slavery if there’s an escape clause that allows the enslavement of people who we say have committed crimes.
Yes, the 13th amendment abolished slavery, but it also ushered in the era of vagrancy laws and what Dr. Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow. The industrial prison complex replaced the institution of chattel slavery. Regardless of what you think about Kanye West, this is a worthy issue to expound upon on the campaign trail during this current climate of drastic police and prison reform. How do you reform without exploiting the labor and damaging the bodies of the imprisoned… or do we not care?
Kanye’s lack of political experience may be the true bane of his campaign. Kanye has never ran for any office nor has he formally been involved with any political campaign. A Kanye West, Killer Mike ticket would be a mind blowing shock to the status quo, but Kanye must invest a great deal of discernment as he seeks to select a more politically experienced running mate.
A write-in campaign seems to be an unrealistic path towards victory, but it may be Kanye’s only slim hope during the November 2020 election. We are within a world forever changed by the Corona Virus and conventional campaiging tactics are no longer suitable. Kanye’s recent appearance at a Chicago march and protest organizined by activist Ja’mal Green is a glimpse into the masked world of politics in 2020.
Can a Kanye West campaign possibly overcome the bureaucratic process of an American Presidential race? The Nation’s professed adherance to principles of democracy and freedom requires each and every citizen to maximize their civic engagement. Therefore, it is appropriate to support Kanye West’s ambition to run for President of the United States. Run Yeezy run.