Has Kanye Alienated His Fans For Good?

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.

To be a West fan is to be constantly exhausted

“Do you think slavery was a choice?” I texted my friend a month ago, suddenly unsure of who I could trust to not hold dangerous opinions anymore.

“I can’t with this man,” he responded, and I let out a sigh of relief. My friend continued, “I used to look up to him, now I’m lost.” 

“Right, it’s really disappointing.” 

“Yeah, we lost a hero,” he typed out, quickly followed by: “Anyway, how was Mexico?” 

Deflecting is something us Kanye West fans have mastered over the years. Changing the topic to anything other than his latest asinine antics. To be a West fan is to be constantly exhausted, and these past few years have been particularly trying. 

It started in November of 2016 when West announced that he didn’t vote but, if he had, he would’ve voted for Donald Trump. A month later, the rapper met with the then-president-elect to discuss “multicultural issues,” like “bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago.” Fast-forward to April 2018, and West started again professing his love not only for Trump but also for Trump supporters like Candace Owens; this is also when he began to make claims that slavery was a choice. West—the son of a Black Panther and a black professor—who once claimed to be for us by us, was now preaching a different story, and fans were left to grapple with what felt like a seismic betrayal.

Some are quick to point out that West has always been controversial, and that's long been part of his allure. Wilson, a 23-year-old software developer, points to Hurricane Katrina and the Taylor Swift “Imma let you finish” moments, saying, “He's known for being egotistical, causing a scene, and making comments out from left field." Bonnie Kong, who considers herself an 8.5 out of 10 on the West fandom scale, agrees that this behavior isn’t anything new; it's just another instance of Kanye being Kanye. She also thinks his antics are a publicity stunt for his new project. “In today’s celebrity-obsessed world, where his audience is glued to social media, Kanye expected the attention he was going to get on Twitter,” she says. Kim Frole, a self-declared “Kanye apologist,” thinks it’s a part of some New Age West performance art. “He's referencing Joseph Beuys, Andy Kaufman, and David Hammons in his tweets, all respected artists pushing the boundaries of art and societal norms,” she says, pointing to Twitter user @snowcone965’s conspiracy theory thread.

But, where do we draw the line when it comes to pushing the boundaries of art and pushing dangerous rhetoric, essentially endorsing talking points of an equally dangerous administration? West’s comments about Katrina are memorable because he was sticking up for the neglected black people of New Orleans—in a jarring and very West-ian way. His Swift interruption was rude, sure, and he probably would’ve gotten a lot more shit for it had it happened today with the ubiquity of social media, but, hey, his words were also in defense of Beyoncé, so it's hard to hate on them completely. But West’s recent remarks are a lot more polarizing and have serious consequences. As Ta-Nehisi Coates put it in his piece for The Atlantic: “West’s thoughts are not original… They are the propaganda that justifies voter suppression, and feeds police brutality, and minimizes the murder of Heather Heyer. And Kanye West is now a mouthpiece for it.”

Which brings us to the impossible-to-answer question: Can and should you separate art from artist? Or, as my colleague Hafeezah Nazim puts it: “What price do you put on morality?” For West fans, that price seems to be pretty low. “For me, Kanye the rapper and producer is separate from Kanye the person who talks brazy on social media and in interviews,” explains journalist Jeremy Schneider. “If they ever intertwine, then my fandom will wane.”

Frole sees it like this: There are a bunch of other people who have positively contributed to society but have also said and done terrible things. She explains:

Do I think R. Kelly is a vile human being and what he's subjected these young women to in his Pied Piper sex cult is absolutely illegal, manipulative, disgusting and inhumane? Yes, but, I'm sorry, when "Step in the Name of Love" comes on… we're all dancing. Picasso was a well-known misogynist, [Richard] Wagner an anti-Semite. If they committed a crime, yes, definitely lock them up, but if they release art, it's up to the audience to make a personal decision whether they want to consume it or not. 

When I ask all six West fans whether or not they’ll be listening to his new album, which comes out today, I get a unanimous yes. They want to hear what genius he’s been cooking up in Wyoming. They still love his music, his masterful production work, the tracks he samples, and the musicians he collaborates with. “It’s new Kanye, ya know?” Wandera Hussein says, the question already answered. 

As for what it would take for the rapper to alienate his fans—at least the ones I surveyed—for good? “Something vile, like sexually, verbally, physically abusing children or women,” Hussein says. “If he runs alongside Trump,” Amber Bryant offers up. “Nothing,” Frole says bluntly. “Even when I hate him, I love him.”

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.