Kanye West’s Self-Destruction Should Not Be Televised

A dozen years ago, Kanye West released one of his many anthems in “Power.” In the preview single to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, ‘Ye proclaimed, “I embody every characteristic of the egotistic / He knows he so f*ckin’ gifted / I just needed time alone, with my own thoughts / Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault / My childlike creativity, purity and honesty / Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts / Reality is catching up with me / Taking my inner child, I’m fighting for custody / With these responsibilities that they entrusted me / As I look down at my diamond encrusted piece.” The lyrics had power then and power now.

For more than half the time since “Power” arrived 12 years ago, Kanye West has seemed to be a man apart. One of the biggest celebrities on the planet has achieved billionaire status—but at a tremendous cost. West’s marriage hit the rocks, with the artist using lyrics and performances to try and make amends. His business relationships with JAY-Z, Tidal, Adidas, and Gap have faced new, public challenges. Kanye’s conflicts with Drake, Kid Cudi, and others have seemed complex—often stirring the artist who once seemed steadfast in his confidence.

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Meanwhile, Kanye’s political and social views have stormed his persona. West aligned with political leaders, including Donald Trump, as well as pundits and campaigns that have been controversial and dangerous. Although Kanye remains a superstar, his command is questionable, which may begin within.

In the last week and change, Kanye has been in the headlines again—for all the wrong reasons. The events began with West wearing a controversial shirt during Paris Fashion Week that aligns with white supremacy groups propaganda, appearing on FOX News with Tucker Carlson, and making Antisemitic remarks on social media before losing his accounts—at least temporarily. However, as West is covered—across the media landscape—it may be time to change the channel or simply stop the broadcast.

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In the latest episode (#92) of What’s The Headline (embedded in video and audio below), the Ambrosia For Heads team examines what is behind the opportunistic coverage of Kanye West’s unraveling, and why watching a person’s self-destruction is so compelling to onlookers. Kanye’s thoughts, opinions, and fashion choices are daily headline news, spun to great profits by media platforms. But, why has an artist, whose comings and goings truly have little to no impact on the actual lives of others, taken on such importance in the minds of the public?

At the 49:00 mark, the podcast likens the coverage of ‘Ye to past media and public obsessions with celebs like Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, and Michael Jackson, all of whom suffered great consequences, in the end. The discussion considers Kanye’s motives, weighing out possibilities from mental illness to controversy-driving performance art in the poorest of taste. As a voice in the Hip-Hop media space, we also explain why Ambrosia For Heads has consistently advocated for more balanced coverage surrounding West over the years. However, as this storyline finds itself in ugly and confounding terrain, perhaps the greatest service we can do for Kanye and ourselves is to look away and stop feeding the beasts–his ego and the corporate interests profiting from his slow demise.

The time codes for episode #92 of the What’s The Headline podcast (with hyperlinks to skip around):

0:00 Intro
3:00 Coolio’s Rap legacy
9:20 Do people think of Coolio as an L.A. artist?
11:15 The Game names his top 5 L.A. Rap albums
13:20 What are the top 5 Rap albums of all-time?
29:00 How 50 Cent clowned Ja Rule for making pop records, while making pop records
32:20 The Game says Dr. Dre has never produced a song for him
39:28 Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre are releasing a new album in November
46:30 Why was there a two-year delay between the video shoot for Kendrick Lamar’s “N95” and the release of his Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers album?
49:24 Kanye West’s self-destruction should no be televised
1:05:28 The Virgil Abloh exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum is a great tribute to him
1:07:38 Roc Marciano & The Alchemist put on a show for a star-studded audience in Brooklyn
1:11:18 New music from Open Mike Eagle, Cormega, Freddie Gibbs, Kid Cudi, YG, Rome Streetz, and more

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AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline. The podcast also features interviews with Rapper Big Pooh, Cormega, Meyhem Lauren & Daringer, Diamond D, Joell Ortiz, AZ, Blu & Mickey Factz, Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse.