Kanye West is the First MC to Ever Appear on the Cover of the ‘New Yorker’
Kanye West’s career trajectory has never shied away of the audacious, memorable, and newsworthy. His announcement of a presidential bid in 2020 at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards on August 30 was all three, and whether the plan ever comes to fruition is secondary to the fact that now, the idea of a Kanye West presidency is the source of excited conversation and conjecture that is beginning to blend the world of Hip-Hop and politics in a way that seeps into other aspects of popular culture, both high and low-brow.
New Yorker magazine, the 90-year old rag considered by many to the the quintessential publication for the cultured and political, has ventured into uncharted territory, making Kanye West the boldest representation of Hip-Hop in its history. The September 14 issue features a political cartoon starring Yeezy as not a rapper but a politician deeply entrenched with American political history. That’s because the cartoon is a joke within a joke, a replica of a historic photograph taken in 1948. In the photograph, President Truman is seen holding up November 3’s Chicago Daily Tribune, which erroneously reported that New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey had defeated the incumbent Truman, marking one of the newspaper’s biggest gaffes in its history (and any newspaper, for that matter).
In the 2015 version created by Barry Blitt, Kanye West is Truman, and the paper’s headline reads “Trump Defeats Kanye,” opting for the rapper’s first name. Because Kanye. The tongue-in-cheek choice for cover artwork by the New Yorker speaks not only to ‘Ye’s status as a pop culture giant, but also to Hip-Hop’s; the music aside, its influence in American politics has always been an important element, but it has certainly edged its way into the forefront as of late. With voices like Talib Kweli, J. Cole, and Killer Mike (by no means the only ones) lending their platforms to today’s socio-political climate in very visible ways, there is little room to doubt the role youth culture and the Hip-Hop family at large are contributing an influential hand in the rhetoric about the country’s biggest issues. Kanye West’s image is now forever entwined with one of the most iconic images in history. And it’s not even 2020 yet.