Kanye is the king of the trolls

OPINION: Kanye is clearly trolling us—but to what end?

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

This is the age of trolling and the king of the trolls is Kanye. In recent weeks, he’s been trolling us all at DEFCON 3 while launching a virtual blitzkrieg of racism and antisemitism. It’s like he’s just looking for the most triggering things he can say to the Black and Jewish communities and saying them all at once. He’s the proverbial guy who’s always in the barbershop spilling terrible ideas all over the place, but he’s super-famous, just like Trump seemed like the drunk at the end of the bar who was always spouting off crazy things, but he was president. Kanye has always loved to provoke us but it wasn’t until the Trump era that he became a super-troll. In the political world, Kanye’s like Tekashi 69, doing things just for the purpose of getting a rise out of people. 

Trolls enjoy hurting others. They glean a sense of power from the outraged reactions of their victims. Trolls tend to be narcissists who don’t care about others. They also tend to be insecure and therefore love the attention that comes from provoking and manipulating others. When they attack us and get us all bent out of shape, they feel in control—because they are. 

This is what Kanye is doing in his endless verbal attacks on Black people. He must want to be the villain of Black culture. To borrow from pro-wrestling lingo, he aspires to be the heel, the one who’s booed and hated. 

Kanye West attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. (Photo: Rich Fury/VF20/Getty Images)

This is also the age of the contrarian, when simply saying ‘everyone else is wrong’ can make you seem intelligent even if you have neither evidence nor facts on your side. Kanye’s latest missive is that George Floyd wasn’t murdered by Derek Chauvin but he died from a fentanyl overdose. This is completely untrue and saying it publicly is obviously painful to the Floyd family and to many in the Black community. Shameful are N.O.R.E. and his “Drink Champs” podcast for airing an episode filled with Kanye’s baseless and hurtful lies about Black and Jewish people that hurt many. But be clear: Kanye is now attacking the Floyd narrative because he just watched a bizarre documentary about Floyd made by Candace Owens.

Kanye has become a mouthpiece for Owens—repeating her ideas about Black culture as if he’s her puppet. It’s bizarre that he professes to be a leader and a free thinker who claims to have created the culture, but he’s now serving as someone else’s voice. It seems like Candace is a cult leader and Kanye is following her, a total flip from the person we’ve seen in the past.

In recent years, it was Kanye who imposed his opinions on then-wife Kim Kardashian and transformed her from a B-level reality star to a Vogue cover-level fashion icon. He dressed her and she did almost everything he said, even obscuring her famous face with a mask at the 2021 Met Gala. But now, the leader has become the one who’s being led. Kanye seems like a sycophantic follower as Owens pours her ideas into Kanye’s ears and he repeats them so perfectly it makes her seem like a ventriloquist.

We know Kanye has always liked to poke and get a reaction. He’s never shied away from things that might upset his audience. He sees himself as a visionary and an iconoclast, so he can’t let himself be boxed in by what people expect him to say. He’s got to push the envelope even if he’s pushing how stupid he can be into it. In the past, he challenged his audience by using sounds and textures in his music that surprised us. Many people hated albums like “808s & Heartbreak” and “Yeezus” because they were aesthetically challenging, as opposed to “Graduation” and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” which were more popular because they were sonically much easier to understand. Kanye has always been the kind of person who prefers the hard road. He wants to be doubted and wants to be challenged. But when he goes into politics with that same ethos of wanting to push the audience beyond the edge, it’s not the same. He’s playing with very serious ideas and deeply hurting people’s feelings. 

That may be what he wants but how far can you go by enraging people? Yes, Trump trolled his way to the White House but for him, angering the libs made him a hero to the right. Is Kanye’s work at trolling the left and Blacks and Jewish people going to earn him the love of non-Black and non-Jewish people? I don’t think so.

Touré, theGrio.com

Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography ‘Nothing Compares 2 U.’ Look out for his upcoming podcast “Being Black In the ’80s.

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