Somebody Tell Them People Who Kanye West Is

Oh wait, he'll tell you himself. Over and over again. By now anyone who cares has heard about Kanye's outburst on NBC's Friday night mini-telethon for hurricane relief. While appearing on-screen with Mike Myers, Kanye ignored the teleprompter and complained about the media portrayal of black people as looters, took issue with the fact that national guard troops were given shoot to kill orders, and finished with this bomb: "George Bush doesn't care about black people". Seeing the clip replayed the next morning, I wasn't sure how to feel about it. I don't think he was wrong, and having someone express what thousands of other people have been thinking is not a bad thing. But Kanye's whole me-first, I'm-the-best-ever act has been getting more and more irritating lately, so that sort of lessens his impact as an impromptu activist.

Should we take Kanye hip hop's newest, and most visible political crusader? Or should we take the cynical view and be suspicious that his outburst comes after the release of his latest album and managed to get the relentless self-promoter even more publicity. I honestly don't know. I think the answer is really in the middle somewhere. Considering Kanye is one of the only major label hip hop artists that will talk about social issues on record, I think we have to assume he does have an interest in helping his people. But when you hear him say he was out shopping before making a donation to hurricane relief, it's sort of hard to view him as a serious crusader. Then there's the fact that he's agreed to not say anything negative or wear any t-shirts with negative messages when he performs on the NFL kickoff concert. Have to think getting paid is probably still priority numero uno for Kanye. But it's hard to imagine Chuck D agreeing not to speak his mind because the NFL asked him not too.

On the other hand, the chances of seeing an MC like PE's legendary frontman in this day in age are slim and none. But none is out of town and slim is too busy trying to get with Bridgette Nielson. Perhaps I'm expecting too much. The fact that Kanye is willing to speak out against Bush directly, when most other entertainers are afraid of the reaction such a statement would generate, does indeed count for something. So good for Kanye, I think he should wear a t-shirt with some kind of slogan on it, no matter what the NFL says. Now all we need is other people from the world of entertainment, perhaps some whose personality doesn't rub everybody completely the wrong way, should also speak out.


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