Let me just set the tone of this piece with a smooth Kanye can go fuck himself. We have a real genius in the building, totes forgot what that even looked like. Thanks for the refresher Donald! Confidence is being comfortable in your skin and speaking truth to power not just being an arrogant asshole oh yeeeeah…
So this past week I’ve witnessed the final descent of an artist who once inspired me to tell stories. There I was, thirteen years old sitting in the back of my brother’s car minding my business when I heard beats. My neck reacted with that bop & swerve combo blackfolk do when the beat is too clean. I was like, “who is thisssss?” as I swallowed my annoyance at my brother because he kept switching through tracks.
But what sold me were the skits. I went from hearing amazing songs with funny lyrics to a hilarious skit of “Broke Phi Broke” frat brothers stepping in pride. And the cycle just continued. A bop, a laugh – repeat. I couldn’t wait for my brother to pick me up again, so I went out and bought my first album: The College Dropout.
I once loved Kanye. He was my voice before I had the courage to develop my own. He has definitely always been an asshole, but to me he also displayed courage and fortitude. He said what was on so many people’s minds. I remember feeling like college was going to be a waste of time when I witnessed post-grads of the Great Recession suffer in debt while navigating that job market. Kanye voiced that.
We all knew George Bush didn’t care about Black people but Kanye West actually said that shit. We all knew Taylor Swift didn’t deserve to win over SINGLE LADIES ERA BEYONCE so Kanye had to let these bitches know. He was honest in his perspective as a black man and said what we knew rich black men did, “and when he get on he lee’ ya ass for a white girl.” He was our voice for so long. I Used To Love H.I.M.
However in the aftermath of Kanye West’s comments about slavery, I regret my part in building a platform for a man who’d use his influence to embolden hateful people whose intent has always been to destroy Black people due to their own centuries-long, never-ending insecurities. His music just doesn’t feel real anymore. “Spaceship” will never be the same. Kanye has undone the authenticity of his masterworks.
You cannot remain an artistic genius without being in touch with the culture. The job of the artist is to hold a mirror up to our society and expose its wounds so that it may heal. So fuck Kanye. If he wants the best scraps from massa’s plate let him munch at his feet.
Now… Allow me to introduce you all to the man doing his damn job: Donald McKinley Glover Jr. also known as Childish Gambino.
Up until Saturday night, I really have been wondering what the fuck is going on with celebrities today. It seems like they want to just be famous more then they want to be artists. As an emerging Donald Glover fan I tuned into SNL completely unaware that he was gunna make me consider him for my next inductee onto my Stan List.*
I watched Donald sing, “We just wanna party” over a joyful beat and thought “OMG another singer just staying positive or whatever” and then that beat dropped and shut my ass up. He had another thing coming. This is America is the artistry I needed right. Now. But Donny wasn’t done. He dropped the video and fucked me up.
He expressed the simultaneous joy and terror Black people live through in this country between police brutality and mass shootings. I loved how he happily shucked-and-jived, acknowledging the caricature American society tries to turn black people into but in truth, we have been living in a state of terror. The amazing thing is, although we are terrorized we still create exciting dance crazes and the music you love. We are the culture – but so are guns.
This is America is timely and it is as accurate as much as it is moving. Throughout Donald Glover’s movement, I saw a man that is comfortable enough in his own skin to aggravate the masses through his artistic ability. That is strength unparalleled, and that is admirable. That is genius.
We can’t keep throwing the title of genius around for people who do not continue to earn that honor. Yes Kanye’s previous works are masterful, however that doesn’t mean you get to become entitled. You can’t release trash music and tell me I’m rejecting it because it may be ‘too complex’ for me to understand. Stop it, I been here for years.
Kanye isn’t trying anymore. On his bad day, he still makes better beats then the shit they churn out on the radio but that is a testament to today’s music as well as Kanye’s dwindling work ethic. What happened to five-beats-a-day-for-three-summers Kanye? What happened to the Kanye that spit “mayonnaise color Benz I push miracle whips?” That same person cannot come at me with pooptity scoop, fam.
Kanye West, just like Ben Carson, has submitted to the traumatic reality that no matter how far Black people go, now matter how much we achieve or how influential we are, we will never be free in this America. And there is no corner in this globe where this is untrue. For some, the best option is to give in – and although this is tragic, it’s mostly pitiful.
History isn’t kind to the coward. They survive, but cowards either die forgotten or leave behind legacies ridden with infamy. Donald Glover is currently doing what we believed Kanye West would have done by now. There are many holding out hope that Kanye has some master plan and is gunna pull off his own “This is America” moment but he’s not. He’s just not. Kanye the Artist left us a long time ago. I will not mourn the fall of another false prophet, instead I’m living in the presence of a greater one. The message always finds another messenger. I cannot wait to see what Donald Glover comes up with next.
*My Stan List: I have hands ready to defend the honors of the following: Micheal Jackson/The Jackson 5, Beyonce/Destiny’s Child, Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Lil Kim, Missy Elliot, Aaliyah, Patti Labelle, Cardi B and in that order. Anybody who has anything bad to say about these legends will find me in their mentions with the toolly.