Kanye “Ye” West built an entertainment/business empire by becoming one of the most polarizing celebrities of the 21st century. West’s music, ventures, personal relationships, and political leanings have made headline news around the world.
Self-described Hip Hop culture analyst Dr. Joshua Wright is exploring Kanye West’s connection to the Black community in a new book. Wright will release Wake Up, Mr. West: Kanye West and the Double Consciousness of the Black Celebrity on February 1.
“Kanye is the ultimate contrarian. Whatever people say he should do, he will do the exact opposite,” states Joshua Wright. The Trinity Washington University professor goes on to mention Ye’s highly-criticized comments about chattel slavery.
Wright adds, “For example, when the norm was for rappers to wear baggy clothes and talk about drugs, hustling, and gangsta stuff, he came out with the pink Polo, backpack, and loafers saying, ‘I’m so self-conscious.’ Then, when you fast-forward to the 2018 TMZ interview, and he’s wearing the MAGA hat and saying slavery is a choice, here is the contrarian again.”
Despite making countless divisive statements that alienated some of his supporters, Kanye West’s life story is also one that includes achieving financial success in America as a Black man. The Chicago native went from being a college dropout to being a pop culture icon and multi-billionaire.
“This book should be used as a case study to think about how we view this idea of Black identity in America, what it means to be Black, and what it means to be an exceptional Black person,” explains Joshua Wright. The Howard University graduate reflects on his own success as an educator and host of NPR One’s Woke History podcast.
Joshua Wright says, “For any of us who are somewhat successful, there is always that challenge of figuring out should we have a responsibility to ourselves, to the Black community as a whole, or should we just focus on the world in general? Does moving to the suburbs, sending one’s kids to a private school, or marrying a white woman make one less Black? Do I need to marry a sister, give to Black causes and go to an HBCU?”