It was shocking enough when conservatives, who frequently decry celebrities’ involvement in politics, flocked to support Kanye West after a series of tweets praising Donald Trump and far-right figures like Candace Owens. But his tweets Wednesday lathered more love on Trump that anyone outside of Sean Hannity has delivered: “You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”
Naturally, there was a social media revolt from fans of West who previously enjoyed his songs tackling racism in America, the prison-industrial complex, police brutality, and on the 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy even called out “Baldin’ Donald Trump” for “takin’ dollars from y’all." What fans didn’t expect, among the many MAGA trolls, Russian bots, and other conservatives praising West for his alleged “free thinking,” was a defense from fellow Chicago native Chance the Rapper.
In response to a query from Hot 97 radio-show host Ebro Darden, Chance tweeted, “Talked to him two days ago. He’s in a great space and not affected by folk tryna question his mental or physical health. Same Ye from the Vmas, same Ye from the telethon.” He further defended West by tweeting, “Black people don’t have to be democrats.” It was a confusing tweet, in large part because West hasn’t actually announced his political affiliation and confessed to not even voting in the last election (“If I would have voted, I would have voted on Trump,” West told booing fans on the second leg of his Saint Pablo Tour in San Jose, California).
It was also confusing because West’s support of Trump wasn’t confounding because Trump is a Republican; it was confounding because West has been very vocal about racism in America and for him to throw his support behind a figure like Trump is shocking. It’s not like he said, “Reagan had some good ideas!” Never mind the fact that Chance himself tweeted last year, “Trumps presidency is not the root of division or racism in this country, it’s just one of the many symptoms.” If Chance saw that Trump’s presidency was one of the “many symptoms” of racism in this country last year, why wouldn’t he be concerned when West is publicly supporting him?
West followed up his tweets with a critique of former President Barack Obama: “Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed.” He insisted that things would change when he and Chance “build new homes in Chicago.” His rhetoric, unsurprisingly, sounds a lot like Trump’s when he lambasted Obama for doing nothing for Chicago. Last year, Trump tweeted, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” Chance swiftly responded, “I hope he’s coming in to do some type of federal overturn of our state and city budgets in terms of schooling and housing. I’m tired of niggas talkin’ about Chicago like it’s a Third World country. Like, that it’s not a place of booming business with a very successful downtown and all types of new development. It sounds like he was announcin’ he was going to war with Chicago. I don’t like to look at shit through that lens.” Meanwhile, Chance has had nothing to say about West’s tweets when it comes to Chicago.
Though Chance is a public figure with a relatively clean record when it comes to public outrage, many people pointed out that this isn’t the first time he’s displayed hypocrisy. Last year, Spin reported that Chance allegedly threatened to never work with MTV again if they didn’t remove an article that criticized his work.
Then-editorial director of music Jessica Hopper subsequently sent an e-mail to her staff saying the piece would have to be removed to repair Chance’s relationship with MTV, while Chance’s manager Pat Corcoran only offered that they both “agreed that the article was offensive” and “brought [their] concerns to MTV.” As further evidence of Chance’s history of working with MTV, they pointed out that he would be appearing in the season premiere of Wild 'N Out.
Chance’s tweets earned him praise from Donald Trump Jr., who wrote, “It’s always incredible to watch a cultural shift happen in real time. I respect those willing to take the lead breaking with convention. That takes guts... though there’s a better word for it” followed by two basketball emojis, but managed to anger many of his fans. Chance responded by tweeting a GIF of Jay-Z from the “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” music video—a common internet response whenever someone does something awkward or accidentally upsets someone, like say his over 7 million Twitter followers.
While Chance’s defense of his friend is admirable, when it comes to defending the choice to throw one’s hat in with the likes of Trump Jr. and Alex Jones, who also praised West and is infamous for alleging that the Sandy Hook victims faked their school shooting, choosing sides is about more than political parties. It’s about whether or not you can continue to appeal to a black fan base who you preach anti-racism to while also praising political figures with very racist ideologies.