At first glance, I thought I’d at least be entertained after watching Ye (Formally known as Kanye West) interview on the popular podcast Drink Champs hosted by NORE and DJ EFN. However, within the first five minutes of recording, Ye made the now-infamous statement regarding George Floyd’s fentanyl-induced overdose that Ye claims as the cause of Floyd’s death. Immediately I knew the backlash would be swift and damming for all parties involved.
Ye is a train wreck, and like most Americans, we all love to watch the destruction. We build people up to break them down. We are entertained by seeing those exalted heroes returned to being mere mortals Ye is no different. We loved when Solange beat up Jay-Z in the elevator. Draymond Green, a four-time NBA champion, never received as much personal attention until he “sucker punched” his teammate Jordan Poole. We love gossip! It humanizes celebrities and brings those we worship down to our level. Our cravings for these moments are an indictment! Not of those celebrities caught in moments of rage, confusion, or heartbreak, but instead, it is an indictment of the smallness of our lives. We, the masses, are the troupe of nameless faces following the very regular accomplishments of ordinary people.
The intent of this essay is not to minimize Ye, Draymond, or any other public figure in the limelight of American culture. I recently heard a quote that clarified in very layman’s terms the difference between the uber-talented, and those who seemed to have no talent. “Time is the only metric to talent.” That is it, that is all! The time spent perfecting any skill will differentiate you from the pack. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his best-selling book ‘Outliers,’ it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin, or getting as good as Bill Gates at computer programming.
People unwilling to invest those 10,000 hours will be regulated to the mundane existence of boredom. They are always seeking an outlet, constantly searching for value externally, and offering the judgment of others to avoid the truth themselves. That model or the evasion of that model creates the atmosphere for worship culture. It is in those 10,000 hours that love is found; life’s most authentic value comes from the commitment to self-interest.
Ye is not a genius; he is a savant. He has specialized knowledge of a particular thing. Worship culture merged with the transactional nature of capitalism, and the desire to elevate those with abundant financial resources as better has confused the masses. In that confusion and acceptance of our small lives, we seek information, validation, and a myriad of other things from people who were never capable of providing in the first place. Ye is no world scholar, he has no information in religious studies. I would bet if he were to be challenged, he could not tell the difference between the Masorti and the Haredi sects of Judaism. You can’t either! This understanding confuses me, so why are we in an uproar for or against any party’s opinion rooted in ignorance? Would you ask your local alley mechanic for advice on a medical procedure?
What I find most interesting about Ye is not if he is right or wrong. What I find interesting is that when he speaks, any audience can visibly see his struggles to articulate his message. I am not sure if Ye has a mental illness, but he has barriers to his ability to convey ideas. Those barriers force his audience to fill in the blanks and assume his message. As a person who lives via my ability to communicate messages, I would have to imagine that would feel like being in prison. Ye is not the first person to make the current argument that has him in the headlines. There have been countless people who, past and present, make that same claim. However, in the most compelling cases, not only have they made said claim, but they were able to communicate and validate several of the statements Ye is currently championing.
I’m not one for cancel culture; the truth of America does not have room for it. No matter how offensive the messenger is. The idea that one should be quiet for challenging ideas is rooted in the same distorted vision of the power that birthed this country. Slavery was the law! It was a right, and those who opposed it were “canceled.” As an oppressed class of people, we must challenge every system until we reach an equitable solution, but we must first invest in the 10,000 hours of understanding that will inform our strategies. Until then, we will always find ourselves corralling like cattle under the sounds of the loudest bullhorn. Unfortunately, that bullhorn ultimately leads those cattle to slaughter in most instances.