Talib Kweli & dead prez Give The Best Explanation Yet Of What’s Happened To Kanye (Video)
For more than two years, Kanye West’s career and public image have become a point of discourse in the mainstream, especially for the Hip-Hop and Black communities. Months after the release of 2016’s The Life Of Pablo, a turn of events transpired. West’s wife, Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in France while Kanye was on tour. Kanye later admitted that he was addicted to opioids during this period. It was around this time that the music superstar began a series of outbursts at concerts that ultimately prematurely ended that run. These words compromised his relationship with onetime mentor JAY-Z, temporarily distanced him from protege and collaborator Kid Cudi, and eventually landed the G.O.O.D. Music founder in the UCLA Medical Center.
During that same period, West began lobbying then Presidential candidate Donald Trump. The two met in 2016 and cultivated a relationship that has only grown in the eyes of the public. West has publicly worn Trump’s “Make America Great Again” red hats and went as far as telling the controversial Commander-in-Chief that he “loved” him during a recent White House Oval Office visit.
In a springtime video interview with Charlamagne Tha God that West arranged, Kanye admitted he had struggled with his mental health. He also suggested that he was not taking medication as prescribed. “I think I’m at a stronger place than I ever was, after the breakdown—or [as] I like to say, the breakthrough,” he described. In the same conversation, ‘Ye stated, “When I left the hospital, how many pills do you think I was given? Seven. I went from taking two pills to taking seven. So the reason why I denounced, why I dropped those tweets and everything because I was drugged the f*ck out, bro. And I am not drugged out. These pills that they want me to take three of a day, I take one a week maybe, two a week.”
On the latest episode of Drink Champs, N.O.R.E. brings up Kanye West’s recent activities near the 34:00 mark. He asks Talib and dead prez founders M-1, and stic.man about ‘Ye’s current head-space. “I want y’all to describe to me the difference between the brother that y’all first met [and who he is today]. Are y’all around this guy now, or… We don’t really know. Is [it the same person]?” Talib and dead prez go back roughly 20 years with the producer-turned-superstar.
Talib responds first. “I think [he is] the same dude. Kanye West is an icon of our time; he’s a genius—but he’s a musical [and fashion] genius, and [smart about] things that he knows about that I can’t f*ck with him on. His knowledge is just infinite when it comes to certain things. There’s a lot of things that he’s misinformed about. When I first started doing shows with dead prez, we’d do a lot of fundraisers and work with organizations like The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and Refuse & Resist!, and [others]. One thing that I took to heart back in the day was the real activists would give us political education before we got on stage. I feel like dead prez have a lot more political education than most. I feel like I got a lot more political education than most people. But even us, we needed more pointers and steps to know what the talking points for the movement [were]. We had O.G.’s. I feel like Kanye is the leader of a generation who looks up to him, who [are] about retweets, likes, and engagement, and there’s no O.G.-knowledge in there. There’s no political education.”
Moments later, Kweli continues. “I think Kanye is severely misinformed. I think he’s not reading. Based on my conversations with him, spanning from 15 years ago to two months ago [I believe] that he doesn’t know politics, he don’t know history, he don’t know. I think the problem is that when it comes to his career as an entertainer, he’s been so brilliant and so successful that everything he’s done has been correct.”
Kweli confirms that he and ‘Ye had begun recording a collaborative project. “We made five songs together. I was in his house a year ago. [In the studio] he says to me how living in Calabasas while Drake was [also living there] was hard on him because he felt the competitive energy, and how when Drake moved away, he had this creative rush. Which, to me, I’m like, Yo, how you let this next man affect your energy? This is something that I felt, but I didn’t speak on at the time. Now I see how the years played out, and I feel like a lot of what he’s doing [is because] Kanye wants to be #1. He wants to be talked about all the time. He spent all of the last year talking about how dope Drake was in every interview. ‘Drake’s the #1 rapper.’ I feel like he’s triggered by Drake. I feel like he’s triggered by [President Barack] Obama calling him ‘a jackass’ [after the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards]. And I feel that he just wants to be liked, and he’s misinformed.” Kanye’s relationship with Drake has always been complicated. Despite almost constant collaborating on songs, music videos, and both working with brands such as Adidas, the two have criticized one another in interviews. Last month, Drake told Lebron James’ The Shop that he believes Kanye West shared private information with Pusha-T. That information, surrounding Drake’s son, became strategic warfare in a diss between Push’ and Drake. On one song produced by West, Pusha dissed Drake. On another, he leaked information about his son, while attacking his parents and OVO producer. Pusha-T has refuted Drake’s suggestion that Kanye leaked that information.
Back on Drink Champs, M-1 recalls 15-hour studio sessions with ‘Ye from back in the day. “I’m not trying to take any liberties here, but [Kanye West] says he knows me, according to Rolling Stone, and I know him. I know him.” After DJ EFN mentions the fact that Kanye West may not be in the best mental health, M-1 responds. “I don’t think we should judge this moment, clearly, because I don’t think the man is clear.”
Moments later, stic.man provides his take. “With ‘Ye, I think there’s a lot of richness to the situation…you get a reaction from the masses of people, right? If ‘Ye do this or ‘Ye do that [people still react]. You could predict the reactions…I don’t feel like we’re having a real conversation, as far as the community, around this. ‘Cause there’s mental health, which has nothing to do with the other stuff, in a certain way. I believe that 99% of the planet got mental health issues. Ya’nahmean? Like for real, for real—including myself. I feel like as we’re growing and evolving, the choices we make—like, we pour our own poison and we don’t call that mental health issues…So if Kanye really is dealing with mental health issues, the way the people in the community is treating him—if they really believe that he got a mental health issue, it’s terrible. So that’s one thing. The second thing is Kanye is an artist with a platform. He chooses songs he wants to make; he chooses the position he wants to take. When you like what he’s saying, he’s the man. But when he feels like he sees something different, it’s ‘Aw, this is the worst coon ever.’ To me, that’s more fickle on the community. But then, the other layer though, is you got Donald Trump and what he represents. [Then there is] this alignment that’s not really clear where it’s coming from or where it’s going. So when you mix all that together, and people think like sheep, they’re gonna automatically assume whatever they want to assume. They don’t know Kanye. They don’t know Kanye’s agenda. They don’t know Kanye’s mental health. Everybody’s just talking and exploiting that condition for their own benefit.”
Moments later, stic continues, “In our community, when a person is like, ‘I want to look at a situation [differently]; I just want to consider a different angle, a different picture—how can you really do that [and] break out the sheep cycle if the whole world attacks you? You’re supposed to be a puppet.”
Supporting stic.man’s point, Talib adds that he supports the notion of Kanye West being “a free thinker.” He says, “I’m with all of that. The problem is—I’m not a Democrat—but don’t assume I’m a Democrat and call me a slave on the Democratic plantation because I don’t agree with the Republican concentration camp.” M-1 adds, “We know some free thinkers. There’s some people that have been down this road and are doing some amazing work who are not Right, not Left, and I support those people. And if Kanye sees himself in that circle, I’m with it, 100%. That being said…what’s real is, we think he’s done all this damage, our people are fickle. Our people [have a] short-term memory…In one year, Kanye will be a hero to some people.” He appears to suggest that some of the same people who vilify West now will be throwing his parade in a year.”
Talib jumps back in to do the talking. “It’s not like Candace Owens or Larry Elder, or one of these mothaf*ckas could come out with a jam and say, ‘Oh, I’m down with the movement.’ We [in the community] won’t believe them. We believe Kanye can come back because of the work that he’s put in already. [M-1 is right]; we throw our heroes out—whether it’s Common, whether it’s Kendrick Lamar, whoever—if they say one wrong thing [we dismiss them].”
On AFH TV, there are currently two stic.man videos, including an episode of “Where It All Began.” Additionally, in the DJ Eclipse library, there is a rare Fat Beats in-store freestyle by Talib Kweli (and another by Kanye West).
Last year, Talib Kweli released Radio Silence, named one of Ambrosia For Heads‘ best albums of 2017. He also partnered with Styles P for The Seven. dead prez’s last studio album release was 2012’s Information Age. That was followed by a collaborative project they did with Kentyah, Brian Jackson & The New Midnight Band called Evolutionary Minded (Furthering the Legacy of Gil Scott-Heron). In 2015, dead prez was part of a song organized by DJ EFN called “Survival.” It also featured Juvenile and Trick Daddy.