This week the world learned an uncomfortable truth: Kanye West is the black Donald Trump
Kanye West doesn't care about black people.
It's a statement West would likely admire at present, if only for its sheer audacity. Hell, he might even agree with it to some degree, if only to retort with: "You're right, I care about people."
This is an admittedly ungenerous reading of where West's headspace has been since calling Trump's presidential campaign "absolutely genius" and telling black people they have to "stop talking about racism" on one of his Saint Pablo tour stops. But it points to a larger issue — West's politics are a mess right now and he seems to have no interest in getting his shit together.
His ongoing courtship of the alt-right's no. 1 beau has provided a continuing shock to his fan base, many of whom hold West's brutal "George Bush doesn't care about black people" statement in 2005 as one of his finest provocations. Insulting that memory, Tuesday, West gave dap to a man who has made it abundantly clear throughout his campaign he legitimately doesn't care about black people or today's movements for justice. Wednesday, West made sure the world knew that meeting happened and that it was genial.
He shared the proof on Twitter.
Trump signed his own "Person of the Year" issue of Time for Kanye, calling him a "great friend," because friends sign things for each other all the time.
A more tone-deaf response to the vehement and exhausted backlash that followed West's meeting and his initial embrace of Donald Trump is hard to imagine.
Betrayal, treason are the kinds of words his fan base has been throwing around. But West hasn't changed. His politics may have, but there are things clearly more important than politics for West that haven't: his egotism, thirst for drama and need for attention.
Seriously, why did West feel the need to troll the world a full 24 hours after attempting to calm fans he only met with Trump to discuss "bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago," by sharing a picture of Trump's magazine signature? West needs that attention right now.
This week the world learned exactly who Kanye West is. Beyond a musician, beyond a humanist, he's a narcissist determined to be seen as fighting for the abused, with little interest in determining who the abused actually are and how best to help them. Sound like Trump? They are, and always have been, two provocateurs in a pod.
The most unfortunate part of West's fall from visionary to troll is trying to split the hairs. How much of West's present behavior stems from his recent paranoia and mental instability? How much is "publicity stunt," as his label mate John Legend recently described it, and how much is West's actual urge to create change? How much of Trump's platform does West condone beyond his "futuristic" campaign speak? Was Kanye West ever a concerned political thinker?
Legend's read of the election and this present conundrum seems far more prescient than any of West's recent stunts.
"I think Trump has been corrosive, his message has been corrosive to the country," Legend told Clique in a recent interview, according to People. "I think the things he's promised to do have been very concerning for a lot of people, and for Kanye to support that message is very disappointing. Whatever's in his mind, I disagree with him."
Legend has kept a constant open dialogue with his fans to discuss the way our nation has been developing; West only spoke out after Trump confirmed his suspicions: facts are dead, personality is king, entertainer can become a political force with the right mix of treachery.
The attention West has been getting telling the world he and Trump are right has been the kind he's thirsted after for years. He made headlines without saying a thing during that meeting besides "I just want to take a picture." He usually had to rant or wind out a visionary stream of consciousness to turn ears his way. Now he doesn't have to.
It also doesn't seemingly bother West that he's yet to deliver anything closer to a coherent message about his thoughts on Trump and the future of this country. His Saint Pablo rants left so much that needs to be clarified and elaborated, but the talking points aren't important, the attention is. Trump proved it with his campaign. Because he was able to keep the camera's trained on his every move, he was able to energize that base thrilled by his veiled nativist and misogynist fantasies, leaving Hillary no space to speak to her own.
But Trump is not a political visionary, and though West has pretended to be one throughout his storied career, we may finally be seeing through the cracks. West is a careful opportunist and a dramatic contrarian, who as of now looks to have simply used his political preoccupations to stand out from his pack of celebrity peers — just like Trump.