Kanye West is one of the newest celebrities to fall into a cultural firestorm and face the widespread abandonment of his fan base due to his recent embrace of President Trump and some right-wing extremists such as Candace Owens. After several months of calling slavery an election, he argued that the US government should abolish the 13th Amendment and make a bizarre, restless visit to the White House, West said on Tuesday that it was dissociating itself from politics and focus on creativity.
Still, #CancelKanye remains a popular hashtag – is it possible that the latest political antics from the West could diminish his career?
The most effective way to break a musician is not to hear his music. How popular is West these days?
Since 2004 he has released eight solo albums and two collaborations. His latest album "Ye" appeared on # 1 Billboard 200, marking his eighth No. 1 record. And all seven of his tracks debuted in the top 40.
These statistics may sound overwhelmingly impressive, but it is important to reassure them. It's now easier to have an album – especially a short one – that has a great first performance on the charts due to Billboard's ever-changing criteria for counting streamed songs. That is, a strong fan base can bring an album to the top for a short time.
Maybe it happened because West was the # 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 songs in 2011 when he starred in Katy Perry's # 1 second track, was introduced more than a decade ago in 2007 with "Stronger".
"It's been through a pretty long commercial decline," said Steven Hyden, the rock critic who wrote "Twilight of the Gods" and "your favorite band kills me," the Washington Post said. "Kanye is a very famous person, but in terms of pop music he has not had a big mainstream hit for a long time."
Considering that West's commercial career was already declining, it is difficult to determine how its recent public personality might affect it, but several experts said that its general fan base, angry and tired and angry, as well It may not be those who will bear a grudge.
"He can recover. He, who rejects and in fact makes a severe criticism of Trump's immigration, will win back many of his fans, "said Tommy Curry, a professor of Africana philosophy at Texas A & M University and winner of the American Book Award for" The Man ". Distress: Race, Class, Genre and the Dilemmas of Black Masculinity. "In the light of West's recent statements, there is no reason to believe that the black community sees no sympathy or resonance with him at all. , , What you see on Twitter is the black left, the black pseudo-intellectuals that make up those #cancelKanye arguments, but I think in the majority of the black community, he'll still have a contingent fan base. "
Curry said that these fans will not only see that West may have a mental illness – the rapper said he suffers from bipolar disorder, although he later said he was misdiagnosed – and also that "the reality is that he is able to be. " he is able to be a mentor and he is constantly listening and learning. "After all, West was far from right in his political beliefs, says Susan Weinstein, professor of hip-hop studies and author of Louisiana State University, of" Feel These Words: Writing in the Life of Urban Youth. " She pointed to his first two records filled with worshiping songs about his mother, along with misogynistic tracks.
"His inconsistency benefits him," said Weinstein, pointing out that fans probably dismissed his antics as "Kanye as Kanye."
"The public has a very deep relationship with Kanye and people want him to be fine," she said. "It's almost like he's our collective son, our collective brother."
Part of this is due to his openness to his fans during his career: talking and raping about his mental illness, his insecurity, his marriage, his closeness to his mother and her death, after he had undergone a voting operation for which he had paid. After she died, West cried openly about "The Jay Leno Show."
"There is a lot of sympathy for him," said Weinstein. "If he stops saying stupid things and wearing a MAGA hat, people will be ready to rewrite him."
However, the media could be much harder to recover.
Western's latest behavior "is unlikely to have any commercial impact, and it certainly will not diminish its prominence. Consumers tend to view this type of conflict with a certain distance as if they were marketing enhancements, "cultural critic Chuck Klosterman told The Post." But it will irrevocably change the way it is perceived by the media. This will change the way subcultures hear their albums. "
Hyden agreed. West "poisoned the press against him," which is a bit of a problem because "the media really supported Kanye throughout his career and acted as cheerleaders. And you've really seen this reversal in the last year or so. "
But does the average person care about what the media think? Curry does not think so, "I just do not think everyday life really matters what MSNBC says about Kanye."
The musical popularity of West, however, has diminished. But many artists, such as Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young, are getting older just because their records sell fewer copies and receive lower ratings than they are used to. What keeps these careers alive is the ability to fill a stadium with enthusiastic fans who want to hear the old hits.
"Kanye has long been at the center of pop music, longer than many people. But that does not last forever for anyone, and I think he clearly passed that part of his career now. ". , the classic rock version of rap. Kanye could have this kind of career if he wanted to do a tour of the greatest hits and play arenas. "
However, this could be the place where his unpredictable behavior could sink him.
Steve Knopper, author of "Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age," said that if West wanted a career in the old hits, he would actually have to play them. However, this was not the case in 2016, when he made strange, long-lasting political raids during his shows before canceling the entire tour.
These actions led to a $ 10 million insurance battle with Lloyd's, representing West as a risk.
"If you say that Kanye can maintain his professional career, then undoubtedly, touring is important. But if he comes back and has another tour, he has to be a reliable tourist, "Knopper said.
If he returns as a reliable act, especially if he manages to release another great album, Knopper believes he has a chance. "A comeback is very strong and the public is responding to salvation," he said.
West is "probably the only rappers 80-year-old people know. I think everyone knows his name, "Hyden said.
In a way, that makes him too tall to disappear – at least completely.
"I do not see him having another big hit," Hyden said. "But I think that's more because of his age and the time he's there than politics."