While Kanye West has distanced himself from politics, he still retains his knack for collaborating with controversial newer artists. While he has received both criticism and praise for his work with Florida artist Lil Pump on “I Love It,” some of it stemming from their bizarre performance on SNL this summer, his new, posthumous collaboration with late rapper XXXtentacion as the sole feature on XXX’s new album, Skins, is just as likely to generate controversy of its own, especially as Complex has revealed some of the context of the song thanks to a leak.
During his verse on the song, Kanye apparently defends XXXtentacion from the accusations of abuse that have been leveled against him, even despite the disturbing evidence that has come to light in the month’s since the young artist’s death. “Now your name is tainted, by the claims they paintin’/The defendant is guilty, no one blames the plaintiff,” Kanye raps. While it’s true that the justice system can be unfairly stacked against young, Black defendants, in this case it seems odd to throw up a defense when even XXX’s own words seem to confirm the truth of the accusations against him.
It’s likely that Kanye is including XXX in his crusade for prison reform, a common cause he shares with Meek Mill, who has been eloquent in pointing out the ways the “State” (the plaintiff in many criminal cases, interestingly enough) can very well be responsible for the conditions that lead to crime. However, as with his controversial 13th Amendment tweet, it’s possible Kanye may have chosen a shaky platform on which to make his case.