The danger of celebrity

Last week, we heard Kanye West at a presidential campaign rally in North Carolina, covering a range of topics, from his marriage with Kim Kardashian West, abortion and abolitionist Harriet Tubman. We’ve read a couple series of Tweets, some of which have been deleted, again about his marriage with Kim, the film Get Out and his upcoming album, DONDA, named after his late mother, who died in 2007. We’re seeing discussions around the rapper’s mental health arising and seemingly the danger of being a celebrity.

West has been in the public eye since 2004 but since the death of his mother, Donda West (tying in to the name of his upcoming album) in 2007, the way that people viewed him changed. A couple of public relationships, the 2009 VMAs and statements like slavery for 400 years “sounds like a choice”, have all altered the way that people look at Mr. West.

However, it’s easy to write this off as him being a “jackass” as Barrack Obama put it, following the Taylor Swift incident. It’s even easier to call him crazy as many have done on Twitter. It’s much harder to understand why he is acting like this and I’m not even going to attempt to do so fully.

The circumstances surrounding his mother’s death, living in the reality TV world of the Kardashians and being one of biggest celebrities, probably give you a bit of an idea as to what is going on. These are things that he’s had to try to deal with for years and after a while the pressure could become too great to hold in.

Comedian, Dave Chappelle, famously said in in an interview with Inside the Actor’s Studio in 2006 that “these people [celebrities] are not crazy, they’re strong people. Maybe they’re environment is a little sick”.

He was mainly referring to an incident in 1996 when Martin Lawrence had a loaded gun on the streets of Los Angeles, crying that “they’re trying to kill me”. Chappelle was eluding to the idea that the life that these celebrities live and what surrounds them could bring them to breaking point.

Dave Chappelle himself walked away from a $50 million deal in 2005 for Season 3 of the Chappelle, instead opting to go to South Africa. He was called crazy for it.

Similarly, West was confirmed a billionaire earlier this year yet this is another Kanye West moment to add to the list. It was therefore fitting that Chappelle recently visited him in Wyoming, after one of his Twitter rants.

It’s important that more people adopt Chappelle’s approach, whether they’re people close to West, or whether it’s the people close to us in our everyday lives. Mental health discussions shouldn’t be limited to anxiety and depression, which have become increasingly normalised over the past couple of years. We need to talk about things like hallucinations, exhaustion and bipolar disorder; the latter, singer, Halsey highlighted in a series of Tweets condemning jokes about his episode.

Much of the truth of his relationship with the Kardashians, like Kim’s meeting with Philadelphia rapper, Meek in 2018 for ‘prison reform’ in 2018 and terms like “Kim Jon Un”, which all came up in recently deleted Tweets, will probably come out later. Furthermore, his feelings about his mother have been seen and could soon be heard on his album.

Whether or not his speech and outbursts helped to promote his album, rather than a presidential bid, at least not this year, is still up for debate, especially since he failed to submit petition signatures for the South Carolina ballot and missed the deadline in a couple of other states.

Having said this, I see someone who is hurt so I hope that accepts whatever support he needs.

But he said it best on Pusha T’s 2018 song, What Would Meek Do:

“be careful who you call crazy / Yeezy the newest billion-dollar baby”

Kanye West, 2018

It seems that Meek Mill doesn’t bring happiness and money fame definitely don’t.

Xaymaca Awoyungbo


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