Published May 01, 2018Over the past several days, Kanye West has thrown his fans, friends and critics for a loop with his peculiar tweets and even stranger music. No one is quite sure what to make of his seemingly pro-Trump social posts, his nonsensical babbling on "Lift Yourself," or anything he's spoken about in the past few days, really. But there is a silent hope among all of his supporters: maybe, just maybe, he's trolling us.
He very well could be. West is many things: erratic, petulant and a raging megalomaniac to name a few. But he's never been a stupid man and it's hard to believe he has become one now. There could be a method to his recent madness. Maybe the strange new music and his ramblings from the Sunken Place are all a part of a larger plan. Maybe it's bigger than any of us suspect. Maybe Kanye West's real aim is to dismantle the Republican party from the inside.
When you listen to his catalogue, the idea isn't so far-fetched. Although West seems unpredictable on the surface, politically, the themes in his music have remained quite consistent throughout his career. Never one to back down from controversy, West seasons his raps with frank, often scathing political commentary — routinely calling out social ills like racism, police brutality, economic inequality and the school-to-prison pipeline.
This has been true throughout his discography, from The College Dropout to The Life of Pablo, even as his style, his look and his delivery have changed over the years. Based on their wildly different politics, then, it's difficult to imagine West earnestly aligning himself with Donald Trump — a man whose entire presidential campaign was built on hateful, egregious rhetoric about pretty much anyone who isn't a rich white man. It's also hard to fathom West making such a stark and complete departure from his previous beliefs — did he wake up one morning and suddenly seeing the value in upholding white supremacy? Unlikely. Perhaps it's not West's mind or ideas, but his tactics that have changed.
West has never been subtle in tackling political issues. His approach has always been unabashed candour, which may shock all and delight some, but also alienates many. He might have realized that his old way of discussing political subjects was bypassing those who need to hear his message most. Uncomfortable conversations are necessary in order to spark change, but leading a conversation with "George Bush doesn't care about black people" automatically breeds resistance in those who disagree.
Why would someone who thrived in the Reaganomics era want to hear about the damaging effects of reduced social spending, or believe in a government operation like COINTELPRO? A song like YG's "Fuck Donald Trump" isn't likely to be the anthem of choice at the far-right's next Tiki Torch Hate March. Until now, West's politically charged music has been preaching to an audience who already shares his same political views.
Could this apparent change in values be just an extreme measure to penetrate an otherwise hostile audience? West's new plan could be to capture the right's ear, gain their trust and then start whispering his left-wing ideals. And who else but Kanye West is capable of such upper-echelon trolling?
West could be setting the world up for some of the boldest, sharpest, most overtly liberal music of his career and all of his latest antics, including "Ye vs. the People" — the loosie he dropped over the weekend — could be serving as bait. On the surface, the song seems like a defense of his pro-Trump stance, but they take on a double meaning if you consider West to be a liberal Trojan horse: "You just reading the headlines, you don't see the fine print"; "I never ever stopped fighting for the people" and the true gem: "Make America Great Again had a negative perception / I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction / Added empathy, care and love and affection / And y'all simply questioning my methods." Is West secretly luring the right into a trap?
If so, his strategy could be working. Trump, easily moved by flattery, has endorsed his "dragon energy" comrade West on Twitter, and there are rumours that the two could be meeting up for dinner at the White House soon. Will they discuss prison reform over wine? Chew the fat about racial inequality? Is this meeting a ploy for West to gather intel for his own presidential campaign? It could be. Maybe West is a sly and sneaky genius and we have nothing to worry about.
Alternately, West is quite serious and we're on the brink of the apocalypse.