If you haven't seen the full video from Kanye's monologue during his Oval Office visit with Donald Trump, here you go:
I know how news is disseminated these days, in clips and soundbites, but it's important to ingest some things fully and without commentary or bias. I've seen or heard so many "takes" already claiming Kanye's monologue was sad, was rambling, was incoherent, was profane, that Kanye doesn't represent how black people feel, and on and on. Look, some of that may be true. Kanye did touch on a lot of topics (I'll highlight some later, but again, watch the whole video before offering another unneeded take, like this one, into the world), he did drop a couple curse words and he sometimes switched lines of thought before finalizing his point. But, he also never claimed to speak on behalf of all black people, made plenty of well-thought out points and once again proved he is always the smartest person in the room. That's a softball setup for a Trump joke but that's not what this is about.
WHO DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING? WELL, ME, I GUESS...
For anyone surprised by Kanye's monologue, I feel like taking them aside and just playing them the scene from Goodfellas, where Joe Pesci shoots Spider for talking back to him, over and over til Robert Deniro's "What's the matter with you? Huh? What's the matter with you?" is seared into their skulls forever.
Of course this was outcome when probably the bravest, most outspoken artist in the world had a national audience and was sitting in THE F*%#ING WHITE HOUSE. This could not have been teed up any better than my left-open Trump joke a few sentences ago. Of course Kanye was going to seize the moment. He clearly has a lot on his mind, and from the sounds of it, has ACTUALLY BEEN DOING SOMETHING ABOUT SOCIAL AND LOCAL ISSUES.
He mentions having meetings back in Chicago about gun violence, prison reform and school curriculums. He's at the White House to discuss prison reform and to try sway the President's mind about "stop and frisk." He's not just posting Twitter messages or videos about how outraged he is, he's talking with people and trying to get something done about it. In fact, he's not outraged at all. Multiple times he uses the words "empower" and "love."
He implores people to talk with people instead of making hasty decisions or judgements, explaining how he was misdiagnosed with Bipolar disorder when he was really just massively sleep-deprived and how that could have led to him developing dementia.
He reiterated the need for more mental health awareness and help for everyone, especially those who need to be "habilitated, not rehabilitated" since they never got the knowledge or help they needed to begin with.
It was clear these were not ideas that randomly popped into his head that he word-vomited out to the world. These are things he is clearly passionate about and thinks about often and with great depth. They may sound crazy grabbed as a snippet, but I understood each point he made and agreed with him more often than not. For instance, it's true I don't really think a hydrogen-powered plane will replace Air Force One anytime soon, but I understand his overall point about wanting American companies to be leaders in industry and in designing innovative products.
I figured Kanye would give us a performance and I was not disappointed. But, what I did not expect was for us to get a peek into the brain of genius. Kanye is not just a "musical genius." He is a plain, old, regular genius too. He said as much during the monologue and I believe him. Listening to the way his thoughts formulated and how he articulated them, you can tell he's working on a different level than most of us and there was so much going on in his head he was trying to igure out how to get it all out. It's sad that this is often lazily labeled "crazy." Geniuses have been called "crazy" for as long as man has existed and consistently misunderstood them. Of course some of his thoughts seem incomplete. I'm sure he could talk for hours and hours (probably days and days) on each of the dozen or so topics he touched on but he knew people will only pay attention for so long so he kept it moving. No one knows how to entertain better than Kanye but I don't think this was him posturing or just seeking attention. I believe him. I believe he truly believes in all these things.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON A FEW OF THE TOPICS HE BROUGHT UP
Kanye mentions that welfare is a big reason why black people are typically Democrats. He also points out that because jobs are hard to find, it can often be easier for people to have more kids to increase their income, which can cause its own set of issues. Kanye mentions creating jobs, multiple times, as the first step to helping curb these issues.
But, to his point about having more kids to gain income, he's right. I've had more than a couple friends admit to me they had an extra kid to help with rent, or to move into a bigger or nicer apartment, or to help with a medical bill. I remember asking my co-worker in New York City how she could afford a three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. The answer: three kids and custody of a fourth.
WHY HE WEARS HIS MAGA HAT:
Kanye states that the hat gives him power. And, it does. He talks about the how people try to bully him out of wearing the hat, which he refuses to do; which, in itself, is empowering. He talks about how it gave him "the balls" to negotiate a better deal with Adidas. He talks about how wearing the hat reminds him that Trump is a positive male role-model for a guy without a lot positive male energy in his life. That sounds pretty powerful to me. I think he may be right.
I don't understand why, but it seems like people hate it when Kanye brings up mental health. This makes no sense. Everyone lauds Kendrick Lamar for discussing it but collectively roll their eyes when Kanye brings it up. I don't like it and it's hypocritical. If you don't like him, you don't like him. Fine. But, the more we can get people talking and learning about mental health, the better. I didn't find out until I was 28 years old that I had Asperger's. Having that news earlier could have changed a lot things (mostly relationships) in my life. As Kanye says today, people need more access to and education around mental health.
He made a great point about "habilitation, not rehabilitation" when it comes to prisoners. People who come out of prison typically don't come out with lots of money and opportunities coming at them left and right from potential employers. I've never been to prison but I can't imagine it's positive for a person's psyche. So, now you have someone who has had a traumatic event (and possibly many more beforehand) occur to them who have no money and little-to-no job prospects due a prison record. It doesn't really put people in a position to succeed which, he says, puts people in a position to do illegal things and, ultimately, end up back in prison.
Instead, Kanye recommends mental health care, job training and even different curriculums in schools to try and keep kids out of prison to begin with. That all seems sensible enough to me.
I think people often struggle with Kanye due to lack of understanding. Perhaps it's because I have Asperger's (who knows?), but I often seem to relate to Kanye and understand his trains of thought better than most. I find myself constantly explaining, and sometimes defending, him to others. Ofttimes, they will concede they perhaps judged him too quickly and too harshly. Other times, they say my explanation makes it worse. Who knows... But, I just wanted to offer (yet another...) opinion to hopefully get you feeling more open and loving towards someone who is often misunderstood. That's all Kanye is asking for; and he's right, as usual...