Not only has Kanye West revealed that he is in 53 million dollars worth of death, but he also recently took to Twitter to beg Mark Zuckerberg for his help. In a series of tweets, West not only made a great spectacle of himself, but also proved to us that black folk really need to redefine success. More on the redefining success part later.
First, check out what Kanye had to say:
Let’s put some things into perspective here. Kanye West is one of the best-selling artists of all time having sold over 32 million albums worldwide, winning him multiple grammies. He is a multimillionaire who is married to a multimillionaire. Collectively, it is estimated that the couple is worth about $140 million. He owns a record label, multiple restaurants across America and a design company. Yet, according to West, he is $53 million in debt. Anyone following his recent fashion shenanigans should know why: West is a terrible designer who has been begging at the feet of the fashion industry to accept his designs and compensate him for his work. Literally begging.
In an interview with Sway back in 2013, the rapper discussed his issues with the industry– a discussion that turned into a shouting match after Sway suggested he put out his designs himself:
“Why don’t you empower yourself and don’t need them and do it yourself?” Sway asked.
“How Sway?” Kanye blasted back, “You don’t got the answers.”
Supposedly, West had already lost $13 million trying that route and had found little success. Kanye West admitted that he needs the industry and more importantly, that the industry needs to respect him.
Well, based on these recent tweets, one thing is certain: Kanye still needs respect, but ain’t nobody respecting Kanye. To put all of this into context, West took to twitter pretty much right after his longtime co-writer and friend Rhymefest– who helped Yeezy write “Jesus Walks”, “New Slaves” and “Glory”– took to twitter to say West needs help. Rhymefest wrote:
“My brother needs help, in the form of counseling. Spiritual & mental,” Rhymefest tweeted Friday. “He should step away from the public … & heal.”
The fact of the matter is Kanye West has hit a glass ceiling of sorts. He is a rich, successful black man, but that still does not give him the financial or social mobility that the people above him have. The majority white people that is.
This proves a certain truism about black success: it needs to be redefined and rethought. While it is true that by any measure Kanye West is a successful man– he has money, comfort and personal achievements– he understands that within this paradigm, he does not have power. Power and money or wealth are not interchangeable. They are two completely different things. In a system owned and designed by white folk, white folks are the gatekeepers and only very few minorities are let in and how far you go is still dictated by how far anyone is willing to let you go.
In this instance, how far Kanye West can go with his business endeavors is predicated on rich white men giving him more money or more access– which they will not willingly do, as proven time and time again.
This is where Sway’s ideology comes into mind: black people should empower themselves.
While it is true that self-empowerment is not that simple and many black efforts towards self-empowerment have been thwarted in America (history of Black Wall Street), we must still beg the question: How many people of color have Kanye pulled up alongside him as he aspires to have more power? Most certainly not too many black women, considering he is still busy calling Amber Rose a slut and getting punked about liking a finger in the booty online.
Minority groups only have power in numbers. Black success means collective success, not exceptional success. While Kanye busies himself trying to become the exception, the rule– the people of the black community– are struggling against police brutality, mass incarceration, extreme financial hardship, a water crisis and much more. What precisely is Kanye doing to change this rule?
Until the rule is changed, black people will always be marginalized– begging at the hands and feet of white people to get what they have rightfully earned and have even be denied. When will Kanye West finally get the memo that no one is interested in his exceptionalism? Especially not the black community.
Men in Kanye’s position need to focus on changing the rules. They should be at the forefronts of our social movements, alongside the women who are organizing. Not on their hands and feet begging white men for more, when they have been given enough to impact the lives of so many.