Last week, I read The Sadness of T-Pain in The New Yorker. With just that title, I sat up a little straighter, put my listening ears on and got straight into mom rescue mode. T-Pain feels anything less than confidence and warmth? T- Pain feels … pain? This can’t be. I must hug this man and tell him I believe in him! I have loved T-Pain forever and after I watched his VH1 Behind the Music, my loyalty to his music, his brand, his persona was solidified. Never once, never once did I jump on that “fuck Auto-Tune” bandwagon. This is a man from backwoods ass Florida who made a name and sound for himself against great odds. I said Florida. Y’all are not understanding how great this feat had to be for T-Pain!
This is the part that really got my goat.
T-Pain on Kanye West: T-Pain talked about being brought in as a consultant during the recording of “808s and Heartbreaks.” At one point during the session, Kanye wrote a song about how dumb all of T-Pain’s ideas were. He then proceeded, T-Pain said, to make “everybody in the studio join in with him to sing, like, ‘T-Pain’s shit is weak.’ ”
808s and Heartbreaks was deemed an “innovative” album for Kanye. He was praised as a special alternative snowflake for having real feelings of despair and loneliness while opting for an asymmetrical haircut. He was emo, rightfully so, as his mother had just passed and the album was a response to those emotions. But, you’re telling me Kanye paid this man to put a sound that he brought to the forefront on his album, to critical acclaim mind you, and proceeded to turn around and childishly bully him in the studio? See, no.
When Kanye started Kanye’ing after his mother died, I would want to hug him and tell him it’s gonna be OK. I would want to reach through my TV when he was acting out with unbridled arrogance and questionable fashion choices and say, “You are loved. You are talented. You need some time to channel this into creative brilliance. I believe in you, Kanye.”
I liked Kanye. I rooted for Kanye when others had already seen the light. I went so far as to tell “haters” they were simply uncomfortable, possibly racist, for being critical about a confident black man who speaks his mind. “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” Kanye had me standing up at the edge of my bed in tears. Fucking say that, Kanye! I yelled. I was momentarily brought out of my sadness and disbelief over Katrina and catapulted into a deep political rage because this smart, fearless black rapper in a polo shirt dared to speak the raw truth to the American people. You fucking say that, Kanye, I yelled. But then. But then. Only years later, after marrying into that family, he turned into “Racism is not a real thing” Kanye, “racism is a silly concept” Kanye, “racism is stupid” Kanye. Shall we open that wound for your review?
He said and I quote, “I wouldn’t call it racism… [it’s] a form of discrimination, or bigotry. Racism is a dated concept. It’s, like, a silly concept that people try to touch on to either… to separate, to alienate, to pinpoint anything. It’s stupid. It’s like a bouncing ball in a room with two cats, when you don’t feel like playing with a cat. Let them literally fight over the bouncing ball. And the bouncing ball has nothing, no purpose, anything other than that it bounces. That’s racism. It’s not an actual thing that even means anything. You know — It’s something that was used to hold people back in the past. But now there’s been so many leaps and breaking of the rules that it’s, like, played out like a style from the 1800s or something.”
I had egg on my face! I don’t like to have to backpedal! The fuck is this?
I went to the Watch The Throne concert with glee. Paid all the rupees. Braved public transportation for that shit (if you know me, you know I have issues with city directions and courage). I saw his insanely expensive t-shirts with the special tags, intricate necklines and advanced screenprinting in comparison to Jay Z’s basic black Fruit Of The Loom crew neck not trying to reinvent the wheel automatically sellable because he’s smart, about his money and doesn’t need validation t-shirts. Yeezy is the king of doing too much, begging for validation and approval from people who will never see him as more than a cocky rapper. He doesn’t believe in stay low and build. He’s a hardcore proponent of inarticulately talk shit, be unoriginal, demand props.
I keep trying to find ways to explain it away because I want to see him shine (throw your hands up to sky). Had Kanye’s complicated period of mourning just morphed into a bizarre mental illness? To loosely quote him, “I’m not no” psychological clinician, but does he suffer from some serious narcissism coupled with some high highs and low lows? I almost don’t want to comment any further because mental illness is real and should not be mocked. I don’t know what he has or if he’s medicated. But for the sake of analytical brainstorming to get to a working theory, let’s say he’s just an asshole. Sometimes he drinks too much brown liquor. Sometimes he smokes too much. Let’s say that’s it and he’s just a cocky motherfucker. OK.
Why has he never stopped being an asshole though? It seems like he doubles down on being a dick with every personal appearance. With every personal decision. He says he introspectively reflects but he doesn’t! Impossible!
Over the years, he’s wanted me to co-sign some bullshit in the same breath that he fails to convince himself and the world that he was deserving of praise the likes of true innovators like Steve fucking Apple fucking iPhone ass Jobs. He told me Kim Kardashian was the most influential woman in fashion because he put her in American Apparel tube dresses in an array of neutral colors with a strappy sandal. We’ve been dressing around the hot shoe and doing neutral, comfortable jersey modal normcore since 2004, sir. He told me he fought for his place at the fashion table with grueling studies under lauded designers and then presented to me some pantyhose, a bunch of camouflage jackets from Rothco (you’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome), some $3000 moth-eaten sweaters and some overpriced, over-valued knit sneakers that look exactly like Nike Roshes. He told me he doesn’t want the kids to be slaves to brands but then he makes his clothing, which is highly sought after by likely broke kids, inaccessible. Question mark, question mark, question mark.
On his fast ass teenage half sister-in-law’s sexual relationship with that other rap legend Tyga, he said, “He got in early.” I want to say in the same interview he pontificated on North’s future body shape. So we’re just gonna sexualize a toddler and a teenager in the same conversation? See. There’s no defending that.
And then last night at the MTV VMAs. *hangs head and gathers herself before resuming*
He bashed MTV, the network giving him an award, for repeatedly playing clips of him rudely interrupting a then unknown (to me, anyway – a happy time) Taylor Swift to the network’s benefit. But on the same stage, he put his lips together to openly ponder about that moment, six long get-over-it years ago, saying it had a lasting impact and sometimes, only sometimes, makes him think about his behavior. Sir, you are a necessary cog in MTV’s machine that never lets us forget “I’ma let you finish.” You showed up here in a training dog attack simulation outfit (in protest?) to accept an award they made special for you this night, where they had this little square-back girl you once dissed present you the honors. You, sir, are still in your feelings about that old shit we don’t even care about.
He went on to say he “doesn’t understand award shows.” Let me help. He has failed to accept that award shows are specifically not about talent or artistry. They are about Q scores and popularity. We are told to accept anti-Semite Macklemore, morally bankrupt Iggy Whatsherface and Sam Smith’s Tom Petty copycat ass as innovators in the fields of hip hop and R&B soul because they have the complexion and the ad dollars to warrant these “awards.” The sooner you get that through your thick skull, the sooner you can move on Kanye. Be rightfully confident in your shit, make your art and hush. We don’t need to be reminded and spoon-fed with your notions of greatness. When you kill some shit, we know. We forgive your weird outbursts and your overt abandonment of the black plight. We’ll bump your record, loud with the top down so everybody knows we’re up on that. We’ll like your little overstyled “simple” outfits. But you gotta shut the fuck up and let us decide. You are constantly offending us and it’s like at which point do we shake you and tell you to please leave us alone!
He keeps begging us to give him credit. For what?
In Kanye’s world, he invented biracial children and interracial love. Let us not look to slavery or swirly love found in the hopeless place known as the abolition movement, or as he’d say, “the 1800s.” He thinks he invented the rapper marries a white girl with a big butt blueprint. Ice-T been smacking that cosmetically enhanced sandbag ass for a decade plus and he started an authentically sick black metal band to boot. Pay homage, Kanye. Please. Oh wait. Kim’s not a white girl. She discovered racism last year during a nasty airplane incident nobody can corroborate and she racially identifies with a brown emoji now. So I take that back. *eye roll* He invented men wearing pink. Rich douchebag white frat boys been doing that for years. He invented the leather jogger. Rick Owens probably did that and even still, would you really want to be associated with this amazing trend? Running pants made out of thick, hot ass, non-breathable leather? OK swamp ass.That’s some oxymoronic bullshit. He invented wearing moccasin slippers with a ratty metal concert tee. Has he never been to a Bamboozle festival between 2004 to like now? Those Fall Out Boy fans with lopsided haircuts be done been in that outfit, dear. He thinks he invented the kimono as outerwear. Let us all #prayforjapan. He even thinks he invented mid-century modern design. No. He really thinks he’s the first person to like clean lines and minimalism. He is like, really feeling Mies van der Rohe, y’all. Meanwhile, (humor my design nerd moment here) he used fake Panton chairs, with the clunky extra support at the seat base, thus negating the genius of the seamless cantilever, at his wedding. So much for clean lines. WHAT ARE THOOOOSE?
In fact, the only thing I can think of that he legitimately did invent, which honestly I wish he hadn’t, is that damn Taylor Swift. Take credit for that unending fake feminist girl power storm you kicked up if you like. I’ll allow that. That’s your little friend. Ride with her “squad” Kanye. Go over there. Fulfill her #squadgoals. She invented that term too, didn’t you know? She said “girls can play soldiers.” Girls have been dying (dead, gone, goodbye in the name of our freedom) in wars (guns, bombs, ie heads and limbs blown the fuck off) as real soldiers forever, Taylor. Please stop with this “playing” mess. She thought that quote was just so clever. Oof.
Y’all. He wants me to bow down and die in his awe-inspiring presence but sir, you took your simple last name, a cardinal direction and found inspiration for your daughter’s name. Another. Cardinal. Direction. *cuckoo clock eyes*
When that family destroys and abandons him like they do and like they will (Scott, you did fuck up though), he will need us. We will be here with receipts too. Keyboard-clapping back in the komments sections for him. With an open door. A cup of tea and a warm embrace. As if none of this ever happened. You know black folks be the most unnecessarily forgiving people on the planet. We know this because George Zimmerman is still alive. We know this because we keep openly sharing original art, joyful dance, colorful language to be disrespectfully stolen for profit by Becky N Them. Will he be thankful? Probably not. But I won’t be back on the Ye Train until he apologizes to T-Pain. That was truly the final straw for me. He can tell a gang of ridiculous lies that I can easily dispute but that T-Pain shit? Nah. He can say he put Louis Vuitton on the map. He can take credit for legitimizing Jamie Foxx (another one I’m a true fan of) as a singer. He can say he created new, refreshing meaning out of the Confederate flag with Black Skinhead *eyes emoji.*
Say whatever you want, dude. But what you will not do is clown T-Pain and have me stand idly by.
Good luck with your presidential aspirations though. You’re halfway there in that you sidestep #BlackLivesMatter at every opportunity. I have no doubt you’ll go far. Bless.