One day last week Kanye West was supposed to drop new music. Instead, he dropped more support for his president Donald J. Trump.
One day last week, Lauryn Hill was supposed to do a show (or wasn’t supposed to do a show. At this point both are believable) and she canceled and said that the show, as always, was postponed.
At one point, Kanye West and Lauryn Hill were really great musicians and maybe they still are. But a plethora of issues (mental health, dating, babies, blackness, Trump support, lost friendships, breakups, deaths, basic life shit, “a cousin that stole my laptop that I was fuckin’ bitches on/Paid that nigga 250 thousand just to get it from him”) have changed both of them. This is who they are, now. And if you are still in either of these musicians’ camps, you can only blame yourself.
That’s ok ... It happens.
My mother loved Joel Osteen. Oh, how she would talk about Joel, his jokes that opened each sermon and how “he really gets it.” And then the flood came and ole Joel didn’t want to open his church to shelter people who needed help. It happens ... People change and, most importantly, we get to see them for who they are and move on.
Kanye hasn’t been Kanye for a while now. Lauryn hasn’t been Lauryn for even longer. They owe us nothing. In fact, that may be the one consistency in both their music and personalities; they are fully aware that they owe us nothing and that’s exactly what they’ve given us.
If you’re waiting for old Kanye to return, well, I hate to tell you but the self-righteous, charismatic guy who once argued that he was self-conscious and paid a lot of money for clothes to hide “things inside” can afford everything he wants. He literally got on and left us all for a white girl.
Lauryn Hill has been struggling since she left the Fugees. I swear Lauryn couldn’t be on time for a show if it was in her bathroom mirror and the soundcheck only consisted of her using a hairbrush as her mic. At this point, it isn’t disloyal to walk away from these stars, or unfair to be upset that they have walked away from us.
The benefit of Kanye’s “Make America Great Again” hat is that I know exactly where he stands and therefore no not to fuck with him and that’s a good thing. It would be disheartening if I spent tons of money on his music, shoes, and homeless people clothing, and then learned that he was one of the largest contributors to the Republican Party behind closed doors. I hate to break to those who are still in the “I don’t give a fuck if she shows up, I’m buying tickets to see Lauryn Hill” camp, but she’s never going to show up.
Lauryn Hill won’t be there.
We lost Kanye around the time his mother died.
Maybe Lauryn Hill’s work is done. Maybe Kanye’s best years are behind him. Waiting for these once-great artists to return to their old selves is pointless. Their job is done. Who knows what Stevie Wonder has been doing for the last 20 years but I don’t think he’s produced one bit of memorable music and that’s ok. It doesn’t make Innervisions, Songs in the Key of Life or Music of My Mind any less great.
What this really points to is a lack of leadership in the lives of people who get upset about a rapper’s political rants. We expect Kanye to be something more than he is. He’s a marginally talented rapper, who makes good beats. I don’t know who Pete Rock voted for in 1992 nor do I give a fuck. If I learned that Dr. Dre gave his Doggystyle residuals to Ross Perot, I wouldn’t be upset.
Kanye has chosen to die on his Trump hill and that’s the beauty of free choice: he gets it too. In truth, it makes sense that he would follow the Trumpian playbook: If Trump is the blowhard, egomaniacal businessman who literally talked himself into the White House, then Kanye is literally a blowhard, egomaniacal beatmaker who literally rapped his way onto a stage with Jay-Z.
It all makes sense. The polo-and-backpacks Kanye disappeared right around the time that he sampled Lauryn Hill to describe the feeling of trying to be something we aren’t.
It all falls down, indeed.
Like mothers who look out the window watching as their children sit on the front porch waiting to see Daddy’s station wagon bend the corner, we know he’s not coming.
It breaks my heart to tell you to come inside, but know we have too. It’s getting dark out now.