Kanye’s Politics Are What Happens When You Don’t Read Books

Illustration for article titled Kanye’s Politics Are What Happens When You Don’t Read Books
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As someone who still owns land on Yeezy Island, I was anxious when Kanye West made his return to Twitter a couple weeks ago. Because as those who haven’t yet sold their Yeezy properties know, every time he opens his mouth, property values plummet. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw that his subject matter was limited to new age self-help quotes and his postapocalyptic fashion.


“Hmm,” I said to myself while sipping a Green Machine Naked Juice. “These shoes and these quotes are weird as fuck, but weird in a good way. Not in a ‘Fuck Kanye’ way. Let’s see where this goes!”

And then, when he announced all of the new music he has coming, that pleasant surprise turned to HOLY SHIT, IT’S ABOUT TO BE A GOOD AND CRUEL SUMMER, NIGGA! GIMME MY DAMN CROISSANTS!

This is all the residents of Yeezy Island have wanted from Kanye. Say weird and “interesting” things and make weird and “interesting” clothes, but most important, produce music. There are selfish reasons for this, of course. A focused Kanye West is still hip-hop’s pinnacle. No one—not Kendrick, not Drake, not Jay-Z—makes better music than Kanye does when he’s at his best. But also, if he’s focused on his music (and his fashion), then perhaps he’s in a better place mentally than it seems like he’s been in for the past two years. And even his self-helpy tweets seemed like they were coming from a happy and settled place.

“Holy shit,” I said to myself while eating a plum and some fried rice. “Ye is back!!! GOOD Music is back!!! My property values are ... ”

And then he tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.” Which first made me ask, “Who the fuck is Candace Owens?” Considering his obsession with fashion, I assumed that she was perhaps the new creative director at Balenciaga or something. But then I Googled her and learned that she’s just the latest iteration of the black women who’ve found some sort of status and relevance by existing as a far-right attack dog on black people.

“Fuck,” I said to myself while putting new bags in my daughter’s Diaper Genie. “There goes the neighborhood ... again.”


The list of entities blamed for Kanye’s descent from “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” to the sunken place are endless, but two are more prominent than the rest:

  1. His mother’s death.
  2. His marriage to Kim Kardashian.

Of course, each of these instances has contributed to who he is today. But it’s misguided—and somewhat sexist—to blame the politics of this grown-ass man on the women in his life. There has also been an attribution to the mental health issues he apparently is dealing with. But it’s past problematic to make mental health the bogeyman whenever someone does something we don’t like.


I actually think we’re trying too hard. Because if you want an answer for why Kanye’s politics are so shitty, he’s told us. Repeatedly.

From Reuters:

West’s derision of books comes despite the fact that his late mother, Donda West, was a university English professor before she retired to manage his music career. She died in 2007 of complications following cosmetic surgery.

“Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed,” West said. “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph.”

“I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life,” he said.


That quote is from 2009. He (kinda) reiterated this feeling in “New Slaves” three years later: “Y’all throwin’ contracts at me/You know that niggas can’t read.”

Recently, he tweeted that his collection of self-help tweets was going to eventually be a book that he’s writing in real time on Twitter, which is exactly the type of thing that a nigga who doesn’t read books or have any respect for them would say.


His politics—including his support of Donald Trump—fit under the “I don’t read shit” umbrella. He’s conflating contrarianism with bravery and intellectualism. To nonreading-ass niggas, people like Trump or Candace Owens are free thinkers—mavericks unafraid to challenge the status quo. But if he’d actually pick up a book (and not just any 48 Laws of Power-ass book, but the right books), he’d be aware of the danger of that type of contrarianism and aware that for people like Trump and Owens, their words aren’t about free thinking. They’re specifically and intentionally tethered to white resentment, which is also often tied to anti-intellectualism. They’re actually the antithesis of free thought. They don’t think. They incite. 

Do you need to read a book to know all of this? No. Not at all. But not reading is particularly dangerous for someone like Kanye, who obviously possesses an extremely high musical intelligence and seems to be, at the very least, curious about politics. Because while there’s not much difference between his politics and the politics of the fake-smart niggas we personally know who get all of their information from YouTube, if we don’t want to listen to those cats, we can just lock the doors to their grandparents’ basements.


Kanye has a humongous platform, though, and is used to people listening to what he has to say. And that might make him believe that what he has to say is worth listening to—which is going to kill my property values so much that I might have to sell this land while I still can!

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Honestly I think that all these mega famous black men in music are like this. I went to this thing and this panel of famous black male producers were speaking. And this producer, if you know about music you know who he is. Legit said the following:

“If you’re thinking about racism you’re caught up in the past. You’re in the 60s” “Mixed babies look the nicest” “Racism isn’t real. It’s just negativity. A distraction.”

And everyone was nodding along and clapping and affirming what he was saying.

And other types of bullshit like that so, basically all these dudes are trash.