If you told Chance The Rapper in 2010 that in a decade, he’d be one of Kanye West’s closest peers and his veritable spokesman, the Chicagoan who once deemed himself “Kanye’s best prodigy” would probably be overjoyed. He’d likely envision himself feeding people the lowdown on in-demand albums, fashion lines, and whatever other boundary-pushing creative ideas that seemed within the grasp of prime Yeezy. But instead in 2020, he’s got the dubious gig of trying to put out Kanye’s fires while stepping over his own.
Yesterday, Kanye tweeted a snippet of “Donda,” a soulful song that features his late mother Donda West orating the lyrics to KRS-One’s “Sound Of Da Police” before he drops a verse noting, “I’m doin’ this one for y’all / So we can end racism once and for all.” The song (which may boast another collaborator based on an ominous adlib at 2:15) is a solid cue to his heyday — for people who still have the stomach to listen to him after years of self-sabotaging antics.
Fonzworth Bentley recalled it was “a privilege to be in the lab for this verse… oh and it’s Soooo many more bars.” Thousands of others complimented the song. But Chance decided to put a little too much dip on his chip and gloat, “and yall out here tryna convince me to vote for Biden. Smfh.” Saluting the song would’ve been simple enough, but Chance decided to needlessly open a can of worms by defending his friend’s latest trivialization of electoral politics. Once again, he decided to defend Kanye at the expense of his own reputation.
Chance continued on, noting, “I get that you’ll want to reply that you’re just tryna ‘get Trump out’ but in this hypothetical scenario where you’re replacing Trump, can someone explain why Joe Biden would be better??” The question was a needless binary that sought to slyly legitimize Kanye as a candidate. It was akin to someone randomly stopping you in the street and asking you if you wanted to buy a phone off them, then trying to get you to explain why your phone is better after you say no. It’s a waste of time that serves no one.
Are u more pro biden or anti ye and why? I get that you’ll want to reply that you’re just tryna “get trump out” but in this hypothetical scenario where you’re replacing Trump, can someone explain why Joe Biden would be better??
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) July 13, 2020
Kanye hasn’t officially applied to run for President. His recent Forbes interview put Onion writers to shame by decreeing that he would run for the “birthday party” and ideated a “framework of Wakanda” for his hypothetical administration. He also expressed pro-life sentiment and called vaccines the “mark of the beast.” If the speculation is true that Kanye has been in the throes of a bipolar episode, the entire narrative is disturbing and needs to be forgotten, except as a cautionary tale.
Yesterday’s tweets exposed the conditional confines of Chance’s political agency. He generally expresses solid ideas about Black liberation — except when Kanye is involved. He posed his question as if his friend was running for homecoming president instead of President of the United States. Aestheticism is at an all-time high, but it’s alarming that Chance would be irresponsible enough to suggest that a wholly unqualified person could “support my dreams” their way into the Presidency. And his contention that “alota u n****s is racist” was even more foolish if he was referring to Black people. “-Ism” means system. Black people have no power to systematically oppress each other, or anyone else on the grounds of race — and we’re not going to act like it’s possible because Chance is mad at the backlash to his friend.
Chance’s self-destructive comments exemplify how loyal he is to Kanye. The devotion would be endearing if it wasn’t another relationship where a Black man refuses to hold his peer accountable for nonsense. Kanye’s attention-seeking foray into politics was annoying enough two years ago. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic and a nationwide uprising against systemic oppression, his game is so transparent and tone-deaf that most people are tuning him out for their own peace of mind. Perhaps that reality was lost on Chance. Solidarity is important, but not to the point where one crosses the bounds of logic and good sense.
He defended Kanye in 2018 by seemingly cosigning his conservative-influenced, pro-Trump tweets by noting, “Black people don’t have to be Democrats… Next President gon be independent.” After Trump thanked him for the tweet, Chance walked it back, then apologized for presenting a “deflection from the real conversation.” He added, “Unfortunately, my attempt to support Kanye is being used to discredit my brothers and sisters in the movement and I can’t sit by and let that happen either.” He called Kanye his “brother-in-Christ” and added that “no matter how much I may disagree with him, it’s hard for me to watch people talk about someone I love – even if they were justified in doing so.”
The same cycle happened yesterday. After hours of being on Twitter’s figurative Summer Jam screen, he bemoaned, “When you get to the top of a hill and realize you have to die on it 😓,” admitting the err of his previous tweets. He also tweeted that, “Whoever you vote for I hope they abolish the prison system as we know it, honor Black reparations and all treaties with Indigenous folk and lastly end homelessness. Whomever that may be God bless em.” He added, “I understand the improbability of Ye winning the 46th Presidential seat and I understand that everyone voting for Biden isn’t necessarily doing so enthusiastically.” That admission further made people question what he thought he was doing in the first place.
A month ago, at the outset of national anti-police uprisings, Chance tweeted “SWIFT DRAMATIC CHANGE ONLY COMES VIA REVOLUTION.” It’s unclear what his version of revolution looks like, or if he was just saying that to feed the moment, but most Black activists believe that revolution will take abolishing wealth-hoarders like Kanye, not defending them. Chance gained his for-the-people reputation by doing actual work for the people in Chicago and stepping up against the CPD and other city leadership when Kanye was nowhere to be found. He should know better than to undermine that reputation and lead his fans astray by even acknowledging Kanye’s “aspirations.” Instead, he should be holding his friend accountable for taking Small Business Association loans despite having egregious wealth.
And if removing the two-party system is an actual goal, he should amplify qualified scholars and activists who can educate people on how to organize in furtherance of that mission. Whatever Chance does next politically, it shouldn’t involve engaging Kanye’s ego-driven album promo. He rhymed, “I met Kanye West I’m never going to fail” on “Ultralight Beam.” But in 2020, publicly aligning with Kanye’s politics might just be the biggest fail of all.