What Does Your Favorite Artist Have to Do to Lose Your Support?

Illustration for article titled What Does Your Favorite Artist Have to Do to Lose Your Support?
Photo: Nielson Barnard (Getty Images for Adidas)

Me and you, your mama and your cousin, too, still know people who support R. Kelly. Despite everything that we now (allegedly) know, there are still people who refuse to believe that he’s done or is capable of doing what he’s been accused of.


Even though the vast majority of black folks believe that the criminal-justice system is a sham in general, ultimately believing that guilt or innocence is often determined by skin color (unless you’re rich), to many people, unless he ends up convicted in a court of law, that man is innocent of any crimes or wrongdoings of which he’s been accused.

Bill Cosby still has legions of fans or, at the very least, more than he should. Kanye West is currently under fire for his support of conservative firebrand Candace Owens and his ongoing vocal support for Donald Trump. Kanye puts many folks in a precarious position because he’s musically and culturally important and we all love a good summer banger. Plus, he’s allegedly producing an entire Nas project! I can’t let his politics, however well-thought-out they seem not to be, get in the way of a potential classic Nas album, can I?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie came under fire last year for comments she made about transgender women. She’s since tried to clarify, but even the so-called enlightened ones falter, and frequently. Die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain, right?

All our faves are problematic.

I’m in a group chat with several of the homies. The subject of support for Kanye West in light of his support for Trump and lately this Candace Owens landmine came up, and of course, the opinions on Kanye and supporting him are points of debate. At one point, though, one of our boys said, “What does a nigga have to do to lose your support?”


That is a damn good question.


In the case of Kanye, his apparent support for Owens means that he also holds some semblance of anti-blackness. He jokingly mentioned chopping up samples from “the sunken place,” a nod to Get Out and the black men being lost in the sauce of their white women. So he’s paying attention to what we’re saying about him, and he’s fully aware of how he’s being perceived and what that means. And yet he’s still willing to amplify the voice of somebody who would clown Kanye’s own name as being some nigga shit.

But is anti-blackness enough to make us stop supporting him? Or is his music too good to miss out on? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be listening to every single thing his name is attached to this summer. Hell, I publicly expressed my excitement for a Kanye-and-Kid Cudi album. And I’m still excited about its potential.


I know unequivocally that I’ll never listen to an R. Kelly record again on my own (I go to clubs, which don’t seem to get the memo). There’s no stepping in the name of love in my life any longer and no more keys in the ignition. I have push to start anyway. But the fact that I know people still actively support him and will continue to do so is baffling to me. Does he have to commit murder? What is the bar?

I think that often, when legions of people turn off from particular artists for reasons that amount largely to speculation and hearsay, people who feel as if they’ve been tried unjustly in the public domain move more forcefully in the other direction toward support. Instead of disengaging, they engage harder and more aggressively to the point of being willing to defend the indefensible. Reasons, though, are reasons, I suppose.


So what does it take? What’s the bar? In a day and age when SO many artists (actors, musicians, writers, etc.) are exposed and exposing themselves as questionable humans, what would it take for you to stop supporting artists you love and enjoy?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



promoting ideas or performing actions that have real negative effects on the lives of the already marginalized + a platform with which to do so + lack or remorse or a willingness to educate yourself about why you’re wrong.

A + B +C == X (your ass is cancelled.)