We have become witness to a great unraveling. Kanye West, currently readying a tremendous five-album blitzkrieg of new music from himself and his various collaborators, has spent the past few days affirming, again and again, his support of Donald Trump and of various associated right-wing internet figures. He has done so through a series of befuddling, possibly unhinged tweets, talking about “dragon energy” and posting videos of the blathering Dilbert creator Scott Adams. It’s been a hell of a thing to experience in the moment, and it has left many of our heads spinning.
Time will tell how many of West’s peers and collaborators will react to this new phase of his public life. But we’re already starting to see the beginning of it. Chance The Rapper, for one, has come out in support of West, tweeting, “He’s in a great space and not affected by folk tryna question his mental or physical health. Same Ye from the Vmas, same Ye from the telethon.” And then there’s Frank Ocean, who’s worked with West over the years, from “No Church In The Wild” through to “Wolves,” and who tends to express his opinions in elliptical, open-to-interpretation ways.
Ocean has addressed the whole Kanye situation, and he’s done it without words. Like Chance, Ocean has referred back to “the telethon” — the 2005 Hurricane Katrina NBC fundraiser where West famously went off-script and told the world that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” On his Tumblr, Ocean has posted a screengrab of West and Mike Myers at that telethon. It’s likely that West is reminding the world of what West used to be. But maybe he’s reminding us that West has historically been a brave public figure, unafraid of backlash? Who knows!
UPDATE 5/1: Ocean has again alluded to Kanye’s recent Twitter behavior, this time less obliquely. On Tumblr he writes, “I LIKE THE WAY MICHELLE WOLF THINKS 😄,” a reference to Wolf’s controversial dressing down of the Trump administration at the White House Correspondents Association dinner phrased similarly to Kanye’s endorsement of black conservative pundit Candace Owens.