Musician Kanye West may be better known for his ego and Internet presence than his music at this point. In the midst of the release of his new album The Life of Pablo, West went on a days-long Twitter rant about a multitude of topics, including his personal multimillion-dollar debt, discrimination of people of color in the music industry and even a claim that comedian Bill Cosby is innocent of rape charges.
West has become a household name and every year it seems mainstream media changes their mind about him. The world hated West when he took the microphone from Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, but then began to embrace his overconfident ego after his 2013 album Yeezus dropped.
Now, West is using the exact same tactics as presidential candidate Donald Trump is to get support: shock everyone and say ridiculous things to make headlines. Former Lamron editor-in-chief Maddy Smith ‘14 tweeted, “Kanyes PR team is now cackling together over salad in LA about the ingenuity of the monster theyve created.” She’s exactly right.
West—like Trump—knows exactly what he is doing when he tweets ridiculous things. Every single post is calculated in order to get more and more attention––and it’s working beautifully for him. It’s rare to see one of West’s tweets get fewer than 10,000 retweets, meaning more and more people see his absurdity every day. Trump—who may be more popular than West at this point—often gets fewer than 1,000 retweets, albeit with just 6 million followers compared to West’s 19 million.
There is a lesson to be learned from West’s foolishness, however: We as a society value shock over artistic skill and reason. Whether we’re supporting, criticizing or just laughing about West’s current persona, we’re still putting his music on the backburner and giving attention to his act. This is a dangerous trend and will lead to potentially devastating things if we cannot reverse it.