Kanye West: adidas, Rants & Racism

Kanye West has pushed cultural boundaries farther than many's expectations. But has the People's Champ suddenly lost the people?

“Here’s a theory for you to completely disregard…”- Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

On September 17, 2004, USA Today published a story entitled “Who’s more likeable, Bush or Kerry?” Election season was in full throttle. Battling a tidal wave of negative press over his mishandling of the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush was seeking a second term in office against the Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry.

43 notched a number of accolades in his initial four years. He was the first candidate since 1888 to win the Presidency while losing the popular vote. He remarkably spent 42% of his first eight months as Commander-in-Chief on vacation. He was the first sitting President since Franklin D. Roosevelt to allow a foreign enemy to strike on American soil then followed that minor footnote by bumbling the nation through two wars—one unwinnable, one irrational. 

In arguably any other election, any incumbent rocking Bush’s resume would have landed in November dead on arrival. Yet President “My Pet Goat” stayed steadily ahead of Senator “Windsurfer” for several reasons including this one:

People would rather get drunk with Dubya.

“A Zogby/Williams Identity Poll…found that 57 percent of undecided voters would rather have a beer with Bush than Kerry,” USA Today reported in 2004. “Many Americans are uneasy about the war in Iraq and the mounting death toll. But polls show they trust Bush more than Kerry to handle it. A lot of that has to do with personality. If they like you, Americans will give you the benefit of the doubt when things go bad.”

Bush went on to defeat Kerry for the same reason RiFF RAFF gets to hang around Hip Hop: Because enough people liked him. Factors like, Are the Twin Towers still standing? Or, Did he show up to work at least 60 percent of the time were trumped in part because Americans preferred to have a hypothetical Heineken with Dubya. Despite his gross ineptness, people liked him more so they voted to keep him around. It’s both logical and illogical simultaneously, and an absolutely pervasive symptom of modern pop culture. Call it “The Fuck With You Era.”

Translation: As long as people fuck with you, you don’t have to be good at your job.

Characteristics Of "The Fuck With You Era"

The by-products are everywhere: Vine stars, instaographers, websites buying traffic, labels faking Youtube views, Journalists going Personality, Tweeters with bought followers and photoshopped verified accounts reveling loudly in faux-popularity, talentless rappers enlisted to hock corporate swill because they look Internet cool.

Making money by simply appearing interesting is an Industry. This isn’t positive or negative, rather merely the economic reality. The $20-30,000 a year gig managing some entity’s social media is the new assembly line job opportunity. There’s value in both off and online activity. For the moment, pageviews pay. At least at the front end of today’s multimedia supply chain, interesting can be more profitable than good.

Honey Boo Boo was awful at winning “Toddlers & Tiaras”  beauty pageants. But Honey Boo Boo was the most interesting, so Honey Boo Boo was handed her own reality show. “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” has been such a ratings draw for TLC, that in July of this year, Honey Boo Boo actually retired from beauty pageants. Honey Boo Boo-child is so interesting that she no longer needs to do what she first became famous for doing—which was something she wasn’t very good at anyway. That’s how many people fuck with Honey Boo Boo.

The point is this: Kanye West is making it extremely difficult for people to fuck with him.

“I done played the underdog my whole career” – Kanye West

It was easy to fuck with Yeezy in 2004. Hip Hop’s glorious diversity had been swallowed and repackaged as a monolithic behemoth representing little more than phat asses, bullet wounds and oversized white tees. At least that’s how it was presented on radio and television. So when the cocky college dropout showed up rocking a blazer and backpack and made hits rhyming about regular people shit, for millions unaware of Internet options, Hip Hop was all-inclusive again. America loves a Horatio Alger, rise-against-all-odds-narrative and Ye delivered like pre-Lakers Karl Malone.

West was a person, not a caricature; a producer who people told shouldn’t rap. Although he had never been shot, he wasn’t soft. He fought and clawed his way to opportunity through hard work, determination and bombastic vulnerability. The advocates and dream killers encountered along the way were name-dropped on wax like a Game offering, adding recognizable characters to his Alchemistic journey—Joe “3H,” Dame Dash, Talib Kweli, Cam’ron, Jay Z, Capitol Records. His music reached mass appeal because it viscerally appealed to the masses. We felt him. In that sense, the Louis Vuitton Don began as the People’s Champ. Who couldn’t relate to being so self-conscious?

Comparing Kanye West To KANYE WEST

The guy dropping “motivational speeches” this year sounds inline with the guy publicly fulminating after losing Best New Artist to Maroon 5 at the 2005 Grammys; that pitched a fit after Late Registration went 0 for 5 at the VMAs in 2007. “I’m never coming to MTV!” he was caught screaming backstage. “Give a nigga a chance, man! Give a Black man a chance! I’m trying hard, man! I got the fucking number one record, man!”

In the aftermath of the Britney Spears Tirade, West told Z100 that he wasn’t upset that he left the VMAs empty-handed. He was upset because MTV misled him into performing in a suite at Las Vegas’ Palms Hotel instead of on the main stage and because the network reneged on a promise that Pamela Anderson (who was featured in the video for “Touch The Sky”) would not be allowed to say anything “disrespectful” of his then engagement to designer, Alexis Phifer. All of these seem like first world problems, but still… “Give a nigga a chance!”

Earlier this year, Gawker leaked a “secret tape” of Kanye West rationalizing his Taylor Swift “I’ma let you finish” moment during the 2009 VMAs. (Breakups to make-ups to breakups, apparently.) Allegedly the conversation was recorded during a dinner at Manhattan’s Corner Bistro immediately following the awards show. “I was happy to be in a situation where people couldn’t say I was just trying to promote my own songs,” he says, before continuing:

“I’m pushing the envelope! I wrote my fuckin’ ‘Run This Town’ verse for a fuckin’ month! When I heard Eminem’s verse on the Drake shit, I went back and rewrote my shit for two days. I cancelled appointments to rewrite! I fuckin’ care! You know what I’m saying? And that’s what I’m saying. Because I did that, Taylor Swift cannot win over Beyonce. As long as I’m alive, you gonna have to deal with it because there ain’t gonna be no more mothafucking Elvises with no James Browns.”

There’s another portion where a woman is heard asking West why he’s so angry, to which he replies: “Because my mother died for this fame shit! I moved to fuckin’ Hollywood chasing this shit. My mother died because of this shit. Fuck MTV. ”

There’s an even better portion where Ye is yelling about Pink’s performance that night in a fashion that eerily foreshadows his recent dismissal of Sway’s clothing line on Sway In The Morning. “Don’t nobody know that song!” he yelled. “I don’t know that Pink song!”

Although Yeezy initially apologized for lampooning Swift, in his June interview with the New York Times, West revealed that he felt forced to atone out of peer pressure. “[My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy] was my long, backhanded apology,” he said. “I was like: Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You have to want me on your shelves.”

Translation: “My bad, y’all. Here are some free songs and an incredible album. Just keep fucking with me.”

“YOU AIN’T GOT THE ANSWERS, SWAY!!!!” – Kanye West

I don’t hear contradiction in any of Kanye’s questionably delivered motivational speeches. What I hear is an expansion of his personal objectives wrapped in the same cocky, against-all-odds cocoon we’ve only known from him. To criticize Ye for using every available microphone to extol his genius while exorcising his frustrations with industry is shortsighted considering the reason we even know of him as an emcee is because he ran around in the early 2000s telling anyone who would listen that he could rap. It feels more invasive this time around because the cameras watching have multiplied exponentially. But the method is consistent.

When Kanye describes moving to Paris to work more closely with the heart of the world of fashion, it sounds like Part II to the end of The College Dropout’s “Last Call” where he describes how he moved from Chicago to Newark, New Jersey after being jilted by an artist that was supposed to sign to his publishing company. To make it into Hip Hop’s heart, he needed to move closer to the heart of Hip Hop.

When he told Zane Lowe that he “put in the 10,000 hours” of design practice, he sounds like the same guy who wrote, “Five beats a day for three Summers / That’s ‘A Different World’ like Cree Summers.” When he told Sway that he went $13 million in debt by investing in his own clothing lines, it’s fiscally reminiscent of when he spent $550,000 of his then new money financing the second and third “Jesus Walks” videos. Second. Third.

“I always advise my artists not to spend a lot of money on videos,” Dame Dash told the New York Times in 2004. “But I don’t think Kanye does everything for business. He does things for the art of it, and it’s hard for me to knock him for that.”

When Yeezy screamed on Sway In The Morning then apologized explaining that the flare up was a hold over from his interview with The Breakfast Club earlier that day, it was one of few supremely relatable, real world emotional exhales to take place on camera in recent memory. Seriously, West sat there for 42 minutes and 19 seconds fielding questions from Angela Yee & Co as if he was on trial, listened to unrequested suggestions on how to start a fashion label such as DJ Envy’s subtly insulting, “Don C, he makes his own hats. It’s not distributed to a whole lot of people. It’s small. You can do the same with your leather pants…” and remained as calm as expected of someone who once made a song called “Dreamkillers” while still coming across somewhat affable. Celebrity or otherwise, who wants to sit in a room full of less successful people telling you to think smaller

“[Charlamagne The God] wanted this so bad,” Ye said to Sway, reflecting like someone who came home after a horrendous day at work and unloaded on his wife because she forgot to save him the big piece of chicken. “He wanted me to turn up on him and I didn’t even look at him. I can turn up with you because we got history.”

Whether it’s Hip Hop’s homophobia or Brittney Spears or signature sneakers or awards he should’ve won, Kanye West has always found a rant worthy issue. It’s part of his personality, how he expresses his passion. The difference is this time he’s describing his efforts to curb societal ills in a way that we don’t fuck with.

Kanye West's Racism & Classism

When Kanye West appeared on national television in 2005 during the Hurricane Katrina telethon and nervously muttered “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” he aptly spoke for millions who watched the tragic images from New Orleans play out in the news and reeled at the government’s gross neglect of displaced minorities. He used simple terms to acknowledge a contemporary example of a centuries old inequality we were all taught in school.    

But when he talks about “New Slaves,” and brushes off the idea of a benefit concert to help quell violence in Chicago in favor of working on making water bottles, it sounds selfish and elitist. The term “slavery” is still too harsh for society to accept any type of comparison that doesn’t include visible shackles on both ends of the juxtaposition.

Wealth inequality is real, though. In 2010, bulge bracket financial institution, Credit Suisse reported that the wealthiest 0.5% of the world controls over 35% of the world’s wealth and that 2% own more than half of all global household assets. Companies of all sizes readily leverage celebrity influence to reach potential new markets, and they do so at a cost that is a fraction of the value received in exchange. Healthy salaries and bonuses are regularly offered, sure. But past certain points, ownership is rarely on the table. Business Insider describes the scourge:

“There are few nations around the world that have not been almost entirely plundered by the global elite. When the elite speak of “investing” in poor countries, what they really mean is taking control of land, water, oil and other natural resources… The system was not ever designed to lift up the poor. Nor was it ever designed to promote “free enterprise” and “competition.” Rather, the elite intend to funnel wealth to themselves and to have the rest of us enslaved either to debt or to poverty.”

West is calling out the classism calamity from a similar place as when he called out Katrina. He’s not wrong in his assertion that classism is racisms’ cousin and needs to be challenged from all perspectives. He’s just using all the wrong language to help most understand the significance of their perceived insignificance. The struggle as he describes is littered with brand new names unrecognizable outside of high art like Marina Abramovic and Hedi Slimane. Plus, it’s tough to commiserate with sentences such as “Me and Kim…had to do what we had to do to get to this point to be able to support our family. But we ain’t financially there to make sure that North is safe at all times,” when half of the couple is “the biggest rock star on the planet” and the other half was born to one of the guys who helped OJ Simpson get off the hook. To the background listener, the Michelangelo of relatable raps just went un-relatable.

In 106 words, here is the sentiment I believe Kanye West is conveying:

Yo, I know I’ve been making great beats and rhymes all these years, but the whole time I’ve been designing on the low and I’m finally ready to make the career shift. I’ve always wanted to be a designer so my initial plan was to use production to get into rapping and the combination to get into fashion. I needed Jay Z’s cosign to gain enough influence to spark the change I wanted to see in music and now I need the equivalent in this industry in order to reach my next check point. That’s how I plan to make my side job my day job.

Maybe my assessment is invalid. But anyone criticizing the Louis Vuitton Don’s chosen path to empowerment from the safety of their high-speed Internet service could likely benefit from looking deeper into what seems like madness. After the broadcast bellyaching and Jimmy Kimmel Twitter “beef,” in the end, Kanye landed the deal he spent all these on-air appearances kind-of describing. The next Yeezy incarnation will come courtesy of adidas. In this case, maybe the right people picked up on the right cues.

Nevertheless, most know someone hoping to push their hobby into a career, someone willing to sacrifice everything for a chance to write about Rap. Not only is it a tangible narrative, but it's also inspirational. That’s the narrative that made the cocky college dropout the people’s champ in 2004. That’s one of the primary reasons so many initially fucked with Ye.

But through the fractured lens of a series of disjointed, arguably overly emotive “visionary streams of consciousness,” it would seem Yeezus is running around ranting about little more than $80,000 sneakers, trillion-dollar companies, and disrespectful multimillion dollar Nike offers. Every new headline rings like a bratty Violet Beauregarde demanding blueberry croissants, whether or not they exist. And in an America where millions lost their homes, livelihoods, and life savings at the hands of corporate greed exacerbated by the George W. Bush-economy; one where the wealth gap is widening and the Obamacare website doesn’t work right; one where “corporations are people” and those on the highest rung of the economic ladder are never held accountable for their destruction, the last thing anyone has any sympathy for are millionaires crying broke...broke.

At this point in the “Fuck With You Era”—regardless of talent, accomplishment or Steve Jobsian genius—a rich dude bitching about why he deserves to be richer is one thing that remains 99 percent “unfuckwithable.”  

Justin "The Company Man" Hunte is the Editor-in-Chief of HipHopDX. He was the host of The Company Man Show on PNCRadio.fm and has covered music, politics, and culture for numerous publications. He is currently based in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter @TheCompanyMan.

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102 Comments

  • Anonymous

    if i had to choose a rapper personality like mine it would be kanye because its hard to be taken seriously by a white corporation...its up to him now to make the connections if their arent any... its time now to clean up his platform too especially if Farrakhan is giving him props

  • Anonymous

    GIVE ME A CHANCE Youtube is all about finding new artist, & though I been rapping for a while im still consider a new artist. I just want my music heard thats all, im not looking for no record deal, getting famous 'r anything like that.! so please just spare a few sec. to check me out, & if you like what you heard please SUBSCRIBE so ill know you actually listen & support http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaSNK0pm4eY

  • paul maynard

    Kanye is a straight clown these days. Thinks he's so great, talking about his album being the best of all time and all that crap. No Kanye, not even close. CLOWN.

  • Knowerah

    Look, I just think the guy is bursting with a bowl of insecurities and confidence at the same time. Mix that with a bunch of drive, passion, motivation, eagerness, impatience and over the top honesty, what else you gonna get? I appreciate that he believes in himself so much. I can understand the frustration of not being allowed to create wonderful ideas you feel would change the world. Even if he thinks he can do it through water bottles and 80k Nike shoes. It might be completely delusional, but you gotta respect the guy's talent, drive and self confidence. But with self confidence, comes a lot of insecurity. And that's the clash we are seeing unfold on the net.

  • Jay

    He follows his dreams like everyone else, these are vids of his concert were he talks to his fans, never once did he try and put any one down instead he tries to uplift his people. He gives you his point of view so we can rise above and not deal with the crap he deals with. If your gonna talk bad about him at least know what your even talking about. http://youtu.be/D1iFJ_QJueI http://youtu.be/lHHliodwGr4 http://youtu.be/irCZAR5xQ5A

  • Ashley Brown

    Sorry about typos. In a rush. If kanye complains about those who are negative towards him, why he is discouraging towards sway??

  • Ashley Brown

    I do hear contradiction. Listen to his interviews and that recent video of him explaining the pyramid and 7 camera bullshit (ILLUMINATI). He specifically talks about people crushing his dreams and saying those that do that aren't the do-ers. Listen to his interview with Sway. Sway talks about his ambitions as a designer and kanye then responds by saying things like "no one ever heard of it". Sway talks about the money he lost and kanye then says "I could lose money on a higher level..." Something to that extent. As an African American I find it extremely difficult to believe that kanye is relatable and is truly interested in serving and I feel as if he wants to dominate the masses through corporation. No matter how big or small a mans dream, when you discourage. I find it ironic that he says negative things about sway's dreams. Kanye has also said negative things about his peers. He's a very negative person towards others. He then tries to threaten charlamagne by saying that if someone owns the radio station them their daughter could get a job at the station and that if you have money then no one can fire you. Inflicting fear and lying is what kanye does. He also said on the breakfast club that billionaires place designers in a box and make people want their product. This again is another lie. All the things he has said. It is amazing he can do all the evil things to others but no one can do that to him. Like my grandfather said, anyone can be do-less. Anybody can be do-ers. But it takes do-ers with honesty and morals to really make a positive difference in the world. He is a FRAUD wanting to embody greatness. The only reason he came this far as a rapper is bc he has taken advantage of so many people by the lies he has told. His lyrics prove how horrible he is. Both he and kim jayz beyonce are all in the business of EXPLOITATION.

    • Anonymous

      Kanye is another player in an Corrupt system....in order for him to maintain a job and secure a future for his wife and family he has to switch careers before his light fades to black...the more you own the more u can do...today music industry offer enough capital to get his ideas across

  • Jane Birkin

    til I saw the check which had said $8641, I be certain that...my... father in law actualey bringing in money in their spare time on there computar.. there sisters neighbour haz done this 4 only 21 months and just cleard the mortgage on their cottage and purchased a gorgeous Honda NSX. visit the site>>> bay91

  • BeTrue

    This article makes no sense.... Kanye is still the underdog because he realized his millions just don't add up to change the world in a big way. Once he hit that glass ceiling his life changed because so many other doors was not available to him, and that's why he is ranting.

  • A. Michelle

    Very good read, great perspective. And to me, you're right. Kanye is the same. He's just ranting or "expressing his views" on different things now. We related to him back in the day on his rants and raves but those same rants and raves are applicable to different things now that we just can't relate to or don't value or can't value because we're in a different place than him. But I also believe that there should be some level of accountability of growth. We know as adults to not pitch a fit or whine when we can't get the latte we want at Starbucks or even higher levels of injustice-- we learn that there are other, more affective, diplomatic, inclusive and for lack of a better word, "better" ways to get our points across and received. A lot of the things he's speaking up one, are valid-- he's just lost credibility and interest because of his delivery. And as an artist, I would think he would know, that delivery is just as important, in any art form, as the art itself.

    • Justin Hunte

      That's true, too. At some point you have to grow up. What's also interesting is that after MBDTF, he basically took a two year hiatus from talking to the media at all. Then he came back and OD'd on Media. Personally, I don't know which is better. But this Kanye is way more entertaining. Great comment. Thank you, A. Michelle.

    • Justin Hunte

      That's true, too. At some point you have to grow up. What's also interesting is that after MBDTF, he basically took a two year hiatus from talking to the media at all. Then he came back and OD'd on Media. Personally, I don't know which is better. But this Kanye is way more entertaining. Great comment. Thank you, Thiza.

  • Thiza

    Theres tales of him climbing on top of tables and screaming that he's the best rapper/producer alive and he is worth a shot. This is back when he was sidelined and "marginalized" and boxed in the category of "just a producer" but because of those rants/antics coupled with self belief and passion, look how many doors he has brought down. Like you pointed out, its only that theres more cameras now. It might be an elitist sounding rant right now, but I believe history will be kind, and people will realize the importance of braking down barriers, whether its an unacceptable struggle to champion in that era. All in all, great article and personally I can relate to being boxed and how tough it is to convince people unless you're given a chance or a co-sign. His method is not the "friendliest" but that on its own shows that he is not "conventional" and shouldn't be viewed from that perspective. He dropped one of the best rap albums and sang on the follow up album, now how do you box someone like that. Again great article.

  • Anonymous

    Intellectualised BS! Kanye has a big enough platform and time to explain and defend himself without a whole editorial dedicated to him. Hes not anti-corporate and hes pulling the race card because he cant get into the fashion world. Its that simple. No need to read anymore into it. A real opportunity to talk about racism, classism and corporations relationship with Hip Hop but instead we get this! Well done Kanye! Well done DX! Make better use of your platform. I dont want to hear Kanye whine about how his diamond shoes are too tight on his feet and this perceived pressure he puts on himself. Fuck him!

    • Anonymous

      There is no Fuck with you era. The GW and Honey Boo Boo examples make no sense unless youre saying Kanye has no talent but hes a likeable character. I actually like Kanyes music, not his character. Ive never been down with the pink polos and skinny jeans look but in spite of that, his music spoke volumes. There isnt an era. Its always been that way with showbiz and celebrities. Appear to be an asshole or make a PR blunder and it may be curtains for you. I also doubt Kanye has been consistent with his method. You really think he could carry on so arrogant at Rocafella when Jay was telling him to stick to producing? I could never get on radio and talk about his peers like that. Hed be too afraid to. Passion and vision consistent maybe but never his method.

    • Justin Hunte

      "I don't want to hear Kanye whine about how his diamond shoes are too tight on his feet and this perceived pressure he puts on himself." Ladies and gentlemen, you are now reading the sounds of the "Fuck With You Era." I appreciate the comment, Anonymous.

  • Chris

    This is a great article. I've been slightly frustrated that DX has seemingly been getting on Kanye. It seems to me that people, especially hip-hop (and other majority minority) outlets, should not be telling him to "just be happy with what you have." This mentality only continues the cycle where other majority races, cultures, and classes tell us the same thing. However, I agree that he alienates people with the way he tries to get his message across. How many people do we know whose careers were cut short by "visionary streams of consciousness"? I respect the sentiment that "others are broke," but one way I believe Kanye is trying to remedy this in the community that he grew up in is by simply giving hope. If a producer nobody said can rap became a rapper and a rapper nobody said could design can make a billion dollars, that would mean the world to kids across America, especially since this time it's being played out across the world. Right now, black men are thinking "I have a 1/3 chance of going to prison" instead of "I could possible be a billionaire." Huge mentality change. Kanye could retire easily. I think he's actually trying (and failing for some) to connect with people without alienating any race by saying "It's classism. I just want to provide for my family." Can't everybody relate to that sentiment? I hope and believe this is his intention, because you're right, it doesn't come off well a lot of the time. Thanks for clarifying at least your individual opinion and making some great points on both sides.

    • Justin Hunte

      Can you imagine the VH1 Behind The Music special if that happened? "Kanye West sold over 100 million records. He was married to this generation's Marilyn Monroe. He was on top of the world. That is until....a series of 'visionary streams of consciousness"..." Ha! Man, Fox News would have a field day. Thanks for the comment, Chris. I'm with you. And truly it applies to everyone. How many people have been told they could be President of the United States their whole life, but didn't believe it until Obama was elected?

  • Anonymous

    This article seems like a long rant. Comes across like a high school or college kid's research report. Not a particularly enjoyable read, but it does fall in-line with the other articles/editorials on this site. My $0.02, stick to what you are best at: the interviews, pulling articles/news from other sites, and posting music.

  • Anonymous

    Some of the dumbest shit I ever read. So how is Kanye more successful than those cats on the breakfast club? They are not even on the same lane, is he a journalist/analyst? No, he is an artist. O o he has more money, okay. I understand, now. Dumb fucks

    • Sean P

      how did you jump to contributions to the human race? When was that a part of the discussion...?

    • Anonymous

      Well, who has actually contributed something to the whole human race? a) Mandela b)Kanye c( Nikki Minaj d) Rick Ross The point is this poor excuse for a black man should realize by now that 1) These people are not afraid of his 'star' power. 2) He is not entitled to anything he did not put work in-and yes, due to his status, he shouldn't do anything 'small' but grind a la M. Ecko and I think it's what that cat on that radio show meant. 3) His complaints have nothing to do with changing anything besides advancing his own self-interest 4) A man remains a man, you get knocked down, you dust yourself off and go find new ways to beat your opponent. 5) Concerning his deal with Adidas, he needs to learn the history of Adidas/Puma and probably the greatest athlete of all time, Jesse Owens. 6)He keeps mentioning Jay showed him, showed him that, well, start thinking like a gangster, start acquiring pieces of an already established brand and work from there, Jay owns pieces of a European luxury watch co. or shoe company, no? So build it from there. Telling people you lost 13$ million to people who will never see that type of money will not get you any sympathy-to people in the highest tax brackets will just laugh at you. Someone needed money to pay some gambling debt or shell out some bribe money for a child molesting case to go away and played to his ego and he got got. simple and plain.

    • Justin Hunte

      I'm not saying the hosts of the breakfast club are unsuccessful. I'm saying Kanye West is more successful. Here's a measure to highlight the comparison: Which home did a Presidential candidate visit to help gather support for his campaign? A.) DJ Envy B.) Angela Yee C.) Charlamagne The God D.) Kanye West I appreciate the comment. Thank you for reading.

  • Javier

    Kanye's a cocky asshole. but hes still in my top fav rappers of all time and imma always fuck with him. The shit he did for rap production wise and lyric wise with college dropout, late registration, 808's and heartbreaks, graduation, my beautiful dark twisted fantasy and yeezus is unreal.

    • janetrlail

      upto I saw the check which said $6844, I accept that my brothers friend woz like actualy bringing in money parttime on there computar.. there great aunt has been doing this for only about and as of now repayed the debts on their cottage and purchased a brand new Alfa Romeo. navigate to this web-site WWW.Ring77.COM I am an experienced designer who went to a top art college. So I know what i am talking about. Thanks.

  • Alma Johnson

    In watching all this unfold I had the feeling that Kanye may end up being seen as the mad rapper rather than a genuis ["Shay"] Hi, my name is Shay, and I'm from New Rochelle And I just don't understand; why you so mad? Like, what are you so mad about? ....YouknowI'msayin, that shit was aight, it was cool But my shit is J--more John Blaze than that! I got John Blaze shit And they not rish--recognizing, they not sayin, "I recognize" And fuck is that, who is you to be askin' me questions, youknowhatI'msayin? Who is you?

    • Justin Hunte

      "I gots to talk...I gots to tell you how I feel...I gots to tell you about life as I sees it..." #Classic Thanks for the comment.

  • S

    This article was way too long and also took too long to get to the point.

  • Ozha

    Nice analysis. I appreciate your take but I don't agree with a number of points. 1. "It was easy to fuck with Yeezy in 2004. Hip Hops glorious diversity had been swallowed and repackaged as a monolithic behemoth representing little more than phat asses, bullet wounds and oversized white tees." We can say that with confidence now because we have the benefit of hindsight. However, Kanye's message and style has always pushed against the mainstream landscape. It wasn't until Graduation which sold 950K albums in its first week (ultimately surpassing the poster boy of gangster rap, 50 Cent, with his Curtis LP) that his style truly became the "sound". 808s and Heartbreak was just as much of a pariah. Today, the auto-tune sound and singing are part and parcel of the rap game. There'd be know Drake w/out that offering which was orthogonal to everything the game had produced before. I can say the same for the message and feel of WTT, Cruel Summer and Yeezus. 2. "In 106 words, here is the sentiment I believe Kanye West is conveying: ... ..." While partially true, I think you aren't being totally fair. The man is 36 and has more Grammys than MJ, Aretha, Springsteen, McCartney, Clapton and Yo-Yo Ma (could have been more if his most critically acclaimed album, MBDTF wasn't taken out of the running following the Taylor Swift incident). He's done it all. He also has dope taste in fashion and, after examining the game and seeing the influence his made to pop culture fashion, he understands that he can stamp his mark on clothing and Haute Couture. Hedi Slimane has NO prior experience in fashion design and he is now the CD of Dior Homme! Why can't we have a black man from Chicago do it? Heck it's 2013, why haven't we ever had a black man produce luxury brands, period? All in all, I understand what you're getting at. As C Tha God says, these are "Rich N* Problems". But you must dive a bit deeper than that. It's about being taken on an industry that only certain race/class have had access to. It's about taking on the corporations and finally having meaningful control of the "the culture" that we love to consume. I hope you appreciate that there's a certain milestone to be achieved here too.

  • Andres

    You guys should have shown these? http://youtu.be/D1iFJ_QJueI http://youtu.be/lHHliodwGr4 Shorter one: http://youtu.be/irCZAR5xQ5A

  • TMAC

    Justin H, you make an array of excellent points. I think Kanye is heavily misunderstood and your article helps people see and possibly understand his plight more. At the same time and as you mention, Ye is extreme and over the top at times.....but aren't we all at times? Passion drives. Nice article

  • Anonymous

    You sure as shit aren't a competent economist or thinker, but I read what you wrote, so you have that going for you. Your premise was valid, but the foundation was flawed. You seriously stuck up for him about "GW doesn't care about black people"? You are way too nice on this guy.

    • Justin Hunte

      Thank you for reading the piece. And yes, I definitely agree with his Katrina assessment. Especially after he released that picture of him peering out the window of Air Force One as he flew over the flooded city on his way to an fundraising event in Arizona.

  • Taylor

    How liberal can you get?? What a joke article.

  • Anonymous

    i think its funny drake got the deal with nike and kanye got second fiddle with Adidas...he is the underdog getting undercut once again... it would be tight if he can breath new life in Adidas and take this as a chance to prove he has the prow less of a fashion chairman

    • Ozha

      I agree. The timing is too perfect to be coincidence. It will be interesting to see where he (drake) takes it seeing as Jordan's are much bigger amongst the hiphop audience. This move definitely definitely hints at a new era in hip hop. Where artists are going to be much more influential within the fashion industry. Just a thought, over the last 4 years Kendrick Lamar - Backstreet Freestyle, A$AP Rocky - Goldie and Jay Z and Kanye West - N***as in Paris all shot in Paris, France.

    • Justin Hunte

      The timing of the Drake's announcement was perfect, I'll say that. Thank you both for leaving comments.

    • Anonymous

      drakes shoes aint got no swoosh on it his deal was with the jordan brand

  • Barbara J. Reynolds

    just before I saw the receipt 4 $7503, I did not believe that my mom in-law had been trully making money in there spare time from there labtop.. there aunt started doing this 4 only twenty months and resently repaid the depts on there apartment and bought a great new Toyota. website here... www.Fb39.com And you DO have the option to participate by watching the Twitter feed. It isnt ideal, and yeah, you get spoilers, but you still have the option.

  • Anonymous

    The George W Bush economy? Is this a joke. No one person is responsible for an economic climate, let alone the POTUS. Maybe you should blame Clinton for significantly reducing banking regulations which contributed to the bubble and recession? Otherwise... pretty good article. I agree he is unf&&&able with

    • Justin Hunte

      "He who sits in the seat when the shit runs down walks in shit-stains forever." I appreciate you checking the story.

  • JL

    Great article, Justin. I think most people don't understand what Kanye West is often talking about, and they just put up a mental block and ignore what's really being said. But behind West's attitude, which I think is what repulses people the most, there is a real message about race and elitism that you put into the proper context with some of the facts you mention. Kanye seems to be purely motivated by his passion, and fans should understand that the same passion that he shows in interviews is the same that creates his music. We can't have one without the other. It's cool to see someone else is a Lester Bangs fan, too.

    • Justin Hunte

      Thank you for the comment, JL. "Kanye seems to be purely motivated by his passion, and fans should understand that the same passion that he shows in interviews is the same that creates his music. We can't have one without the other." Excellent point! And yes, Lester Bangs in the man!!

  • Oz. F

    "Soon as they like you make em unlike you cause kissin peoples ass is so unlike you" Ye.

  • FunkFlave

    Decent article. The political points are obviously over simplified, but you make some good points.

  • Yes

    Don't agree with everything in this, but it's strong arguments and mostly very on point. Well done, Mr. Hunte.

  • Anonymous

    kanye never could rap he shoud be a producer but auto tune makes more money i guess

  • David Bunz

    DX continues to have typos persistently, what else are they getting wrong? So unprofessional. Also, I'd like to see Kanye use some of that "motivational energy" to advocate against illegal immigration. I mean if dude is soo worked up over inequality, specifically of "his people", then he should rise up against the government breaking their own laws in order to provide cheap labor that takes jobs away from American citizens and that keeps wages low.

    • Justin Hunte

      Thank you for reading the piece, David. Everyday we push to improve the quality of our content. Every step forward is progress. Personally, I don't agree with telling non-elected public figures which problems they should tackle and how they should approach them. His struggle is his struggle, but anyone can foster the change they'd like to see. These issues are all of ours.

  • Ddot

    The article seemed slightly disjointed and scatter-brained at times, but ultimately, the point being made here is TRUTH. In that regard, this article is "fuckwithable"...haha

  • Anonymous

    "Kanye Wests troubled-plagued tour continues with the latest stop on the Yeezus extravaganza filling only 4,500 of the over 19,000 seats in the Kansas City Sprint Center." Tuesdays poor attendance indicates how his scandalous love life, frequent impolite pronouncements and his gradual shift away from conventional hip-hop have alienated many of his fans.

  • Jesse M

    At first, as a huge Ye fan, I understood what you meant and was like yeah I fuck with this article. Then you did this. I was like: Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You have to want me on your shelves. Translation: My bad, yall. Here are some free songs and an incredible album. Just keep fucking with me. He clearly didn't hand anyone free songs. What he's saying is more like, "I apologize for my wrong doings. Stay with me, I'm going to release a dope ass album, with multiple hit singles, and it's going to go platinum." This later became "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" which we all know as one of Kanye's best albums and one of the top hip-hop albums ever. Next, and this really made this article "'unfuckwithable'", you said this, "Kanye landed the deal he spent all these on-air appearances kind-of describing. The next Yeezy incarnation will come courtesy of adidas." If you actually payed attention to Ye, you would know that this isn't the deal he wanted, but the one he, more or less, settled for. He wanted the deal with NIKE but he wanted royalties and they weren't down to offer him that. Why should he stop pursuing his dreams just because he's "successful" in someone else's eyes? Why not go above and beyond what people think he can do? My parent's always told me that I can be whatever I want but that it won't get handed to me, I have to work for it and I can't let anyone stop me from getting to what will make me happy.

    • Justin Hunte

      Thanks for your comment, Jesse. And thank you for reading the article. When I mentioned the free songs, I was referring to the GOOD Friday series the fall before MBDTF was released. Every friday he released a new single for free download. Then he followed that with MBDTF. I see your point with Nike being his first choice. But even though they supposedly offered him a deal, like you said, he turned it down because it wasn't what he wanted. In that case, he wanted royalties and/or the opportunity for ownership more than he wanted be part of Nike. I don't think he's settling. I think he's adjusting. Great comment.

    • Anonymous

      i dont think mbdtf is one of kanyes best albums.i would say.college drop out,graduation,and late registration are way better.and mbdtf being one of the best hip hop albums ever? nah man you on one right now there was a couple ok songs.

  • blackbeltbreeze

    strong article Justin. to me, Ye bitching about the lack of black billionaires is smart though. Him name dropping all those high fashion people is smart. He is putting a lot of information out that normally stays in very Ivy League, elitist circles. he pulls the curtain back on a lot of corners of the media and fashion industries that normally stay out of the reach of all of us anonymous commenters. Super-wealthy often people hate being exposed. They love pulling strings behind the shadows. I love the fact that he uses his willingness to be viewed as insane to show us how that world works. And names names. and he is not wrong about Chicago. People have been doing Stop the Violence telethons there since Ben Wilson got shot in 1984. If Kanye's Water Bottle Company is based in Chicago, or his clothing factories are there, they will create jobs. His dreams and rants can exist just like the work of the community activists exists. Why do we need to choose?

    • Justin Hunte

      Shhhhhhh... c'mon, Alex. You know you can't be dropping sentences like that in mixed comments sections... Ha! Kidding, of course. Thanks for reading the piece, sir.

    • alexfirth91

      Yes, insightful comment here. I agree completely. And good article Justin, valid points on why people are misunderstanding Kanye. They don't want to let him breathe because he publicly humiliated Taylor Swift.

    • Justin Hunte

      I thought that was cool, too. I'll tell you this, I definitely learned more than I ever thought I'd know about the people running these high fashion houses. There was definitely a slew of google searches every time Ye called out some shadowy lever puller. You actually raised one of my favorite Kanye points from the zane lowe interview: he's plotting on owning entire supply chains, not just a company. That's an incredible challenge. It'll be fun to watch his progress. Thanks for the comment.

  • HIP HOP DX

    I KNOW LET'S WRITE ANOTHER KANYE WEST ARTICLE AGAIN.. YOU KNOW IT ALWAYS HYPES UP OUR KEYBOARD WARRIOR VISITORS... AND WHEN THEY GET IN FULL TROLLING MODE THEY CANT HELP BUT HIT ARE FACEBOOK LIKE'S AND TWITTER BUTTONS AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS BETTER SEO WHICH = MORE ADVERTISING DOLLARS ...I LOVE OUR HIP HOP DX TOY SOLDIERS

  • Latanya Fields

    up to I looked at the draft of $5644, I accept that my friend woz like trully bringing in money in there spare time at there labtop.. there neighbor haz done this 4 only 18 months and a short time ago repaid the debts on their place and purchased a great Porsche 911. see this here... www.Fb39.com Luckily, for the few who have the inclination to pay attention to the wildly interesting sociological case-study that is Kanye West, Justin Hunte provides an astoundingly well-written perspective. As he often does.

  • Anonymous

    "Although he had never been shot, he wasnt soft." WRONG.

  • Anonymous

    "Despite his gross ineptness, people liked him more so they voted to keep him around. Its both logical and illogical simultaneously, and an absolutely pervasive symptom of modern pop culture. Call it The Fuck With You Era. Also has to do with the fact that most sitting presidents serve a second term. Obama fucked up with a lot of shit, doesn't matter; sitting presidents usually serve a second term no matter what. Kerry could have been the best dude ever (he wasn't) but the fact of the matter is Bush looked more like a president during the election, while Kerry was being wrung through the wringer of media, debates, and other bullshit. People will always vote with the bully they know over the random guy going for the bully's job. So since you tried and failed to boil down politics and the political tensions of the time down to a glib one-liner to clumsily transition to Kanye West, can we agree that this is a piece of shit?

    • Justin Hunte

      "Bush looked more like a President..." Now there's an insult impatiently awaiting some future polarizing Commander-In-Chief. Thank you for the comment, Anonymous. I appreciate you reading.

  • Maryann Thomas

    uptil I saw the bank draft saying $5731, I have faith that...my... mother in law was realy earning money part time at there labtop.. there friend brother has been doing this for less than 14 months and as of now repaid the loans on their villa and bought a new Buick. navigate to this web-site... www.Fb39.com I am an experienced designer who went to a top art college. So I know what i am talking about. Thanks.

  • GQ

    Very good article. One of the best I've seen on this website. However I do have one issue with the article: "Hes not wrong in his assertion that classism is racisms cousin and needs to be challenged from all perspectives. Hes just using all the wrong language to help most understand the significance of their perceived insignificance". I do believe that classism and racism go hand and hand at this time in this country. However I don't believe that Kanye is just using "the wrong language". His whole argument is flawed. Kanye is ranting about how we are all slaves to major designers. This is not "the wrong language" this is just wrong. I have the ability to buy $150 Nike or $25 shoe carnival joints. To compare that to slavery is ridiculous. Also Kanye loves the same companies he now rants against. What artist raps more about brand names? Now he claims that we are slaves to those companies. The Louis Vuitton Don hates that these companies don't like him (can you blame them?). He is not some social-political activist; He is a 36 year old who is throwing a temper tantrum like a 6 year old.

    • Justin Hunte

      What if all of this was just a mean bait-and-switch to get royalties tossed into the contract? I don't believe that, but still... I feel you, though. He's definitely railing against a machine that he's willingly signed into. I think his frustrations are reasonablelike when he explained that Nike wouldn't give him a release date for the Yeezys but then used the Yeezys as bait to make sure the retailers also took additional lines of kicks. No one wants to feel like their getting pimped. Thanks for reading, GQ.

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic article and great read.

  • magmatic123

    kanye should just buy a small profitable clothing company that can incorporate his ideas...13 million is more than enough...louie Vuitton dont wanna work with a noob, those investors probably put him on the spot like that show Shark Tank

  • EvenOdd

    Solid article. Kanye is a very passionate person and he is using the same formula he always has...it's just on a bigger platform and people can't relate to him anymore. I understand his frustrations but I think he is semi delusional when he starts saying he is the voice of our generation, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Etc. These people never proclaimed themselves as being geniuses or great, they just worked their asses off and did what they loved. Kanye is still fairly young and has a long way to go, and as much as I disagree with the way he conducts himself, I find it highly entertaining.

    • Justin Hunte

      Thank you for reading, EvenOdd. I actually wonder whether Steve Jobs and Walt Disney were as unconcerned about their place in history as it seems now after each has passed. I haven't finished the Steve Jobs book yet, I can definitely see the guy played by Ashton Kutcher reminding everyone of his dopeness all day long. Regardless, how would a young Steve Jobs sound in the age of the 24-hour news cycle? I'm a huge Michael Jordan fan and if Michael Jordan had Twitter or had to deal with Twitter, I vehemently believe half of his fans would've probably hated his guts. Is it a stretch to think of Steve Jobs in the same way? Who knows?

    • Anonymous

      I love Kanye's passion

  • Sam Snead

    Like the President said "Kanye is an idiot" It's only a righteous cause when it either directly affects him or he has the spotlight on him.He does not make much music that makes too many profound statements on poverty,politics,corruption,corporations,etc. He was a leader of the the dance and auto tune movement and of pop hip hop. He never was the people's champ, give that title to Mos Def,Common or Nas if you must

    • sam snead

      First off mylie cyrus, get off my nuts. Second, I didnt stutter he really does not say all that much about those type of issues. Sure once in awhile you have a song like crack music on the second album but really most of the time it is bravado and fashion that he talks about. He will talk about racism a little more than the other subjects I mentioned. If you are trying to say that Kanye is a conscious MC than you don't know shit

    • disclosure

      @Mylie Kanye sold his people out by pimping them into buying overpriced t-shirts and whatnot. If he was really about "that poverty, politics, corruption, corporations" Sam speaks of. Then he really need to be about that. Have benefit concerts where all the money earned goes straight tothe ghettos not to charity cause we all know charity goes nowhere near the ghetto communities. Block parties, summer winter leagues. We need to get our communities back together. But It aint hard to tell he loves working for the white man. He isnt a revolutionary like Tupac was where he wanted to change the world and hated how his people were living and wanted to start his own political party for all blacks, mexicans, asians, indians, all lost tribe mothafuckas and even whites. Kanye only loves living as a character, and portray an image that we all cant survive and make.

    • Mylie

      He doesn't talk about poverty, politics etc.? hahahha go buy all his albums especially his first 4 and tell me he has never EVER! rapped about these subjects multiple times in songs. more so then these new redundent artists today infact. If you did your research the leader of autotune would be T-pain. and of course he was never the peoples champ he as the underdog since day one. I'm sick and tired of uninformed dumbass bitches like this clown right here who talk shit without having got anything right!

  • KC

    I think this was a good write up and you made some excellent points. I finally began to empathize with Ye when I realized he flopped after investing 13 mil. I think if he were to communicate better, it may not have taken so long for him to get his deal.

  • magmatic123

    dont get me wrong kanye west is a great artist however, becoming a clothing designer is not innovating the world its been done before by nelly, russel and kamora, p diddy jay z wu tang and countless others... but his last album the beats are garbage its so distorted new slaves is like the only listenable track plus it contradicts everything he trying to do with fashion. nick cannon played the game higher by buying soul train.. i would expect kanye to be the next spike lee..not a gay fish fashion designer but u cant tell him nothing

  • Sneak

    "Peoples Champ"?? I thought that was Paul Wall.. ? Or back a few years back, "The Rock" ?? ;) Kanye needs to get over himself. Both he and his wife are pure attention whores. I wish they'd both take some time off, and get out of the spotlight they so badly crave. Then they'd realize that the world is fine without them, and would be a better place! I mean I respect some of his older music, but lately, he's just seemingly off the deep end, and thinking he's god's gift, and everything he says or does is gold. Pffft. Somebody please deflate the egos of him and his wife! Both of them need a reality check, and a slice of humble pie!

    • Mylie

      You respect his older music (might i add classic albums) but say he should leave this world and it would be better without him? No! we wouldn't have all this albums he gave us (regardless of what you think of him)or this new generation of rappers Drake, Kid Cudi, Cole etc. without him! and hs influence. you say he need a humble (when he is) and that he thinks hes gods gift wth his ego, Do yu know him? hes been this way since DAY 1! nothing changed. Forget Kim, i got to much respect for Kanye and his passion. to this article: Why can't it be a good thing tha a black man with love for the art of fashion whos able to get into these positions calls out these scumbag multi-millionaires and would dare call out these companies that fuck him and us over. end of the day hes right, we are all slaves including Kanye.

  • LD51

    Excellent article. Very well written, thank you.

  • LLX

    Kanye's "fashion" sketches suck. But Justin Hunte's article is awesome!

  • Anonymous

    if you look at tech blogs, you will also see that kanye west has been sitting down with venture capitol companies for 3yrs trying to put donda together, but all the meeting end with, the venture capitalist taking pictures with ye' and they never move forward, with discussions, after their initial meetings. I think you do need the right co-signs to get where you are going, if it wasn't for siding with jay, kanye would be just like dip set. Or kobe and lebron deciding to play college basket ball, vs going to the nba. Among other things Kanye is saying, that some of the things he is doing, he is not getting paid for which he should be, like designing shoes, thats his fault for doing that shit for free, but he still should of gotten paid. I don't want to defend kanye west, but I feel like one day we're all going to hit these moments, where we look around, like the fuck is this... So I like the rants, because most people on that platform won't ever rant, but I also believe its publicity and that we are all being duped.

  • Manny Faces

    What is also "shortsighted" is the amount of 6-words-or-less analyses of Kanye West that exist. The amount of people who think his complexity, be it madness, genius or some combination of both, could possibly ever be summed up in the space of a Facebook comment. Luckily, for the few who have the inclination to pay attention to the wildly interesting sociological case-study that is Kanye West, Justin Hunte provides an astoundingly well-written perspective. As he often does.

  • Anonymous

    george bush dont care about kimye

  • Tebogo Elias

    Thank you for the very fine corroborative article.

  • Anonymous

    Fuck Kayne Kardashian