Kanye West is the first well-known victim of post-Trump fever, the malady that has been afflicting American society ever since the Republican candidate’s stunning election victory. The rapper was hospitalized for “exhaustion” in Los Angeles on Monday, a breakdown that followed wild and rambling rants at two live shows in California. A few hours before the star was hospitalized, his publicists announced the cancellation of the rest of his tour dates for this year.
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West made headlines when he declared at a concert in San Jose last Thursday that, had he voted in the presidential election, he would have chosen Trump. (He did not explain why he did not exercise his democratic right.)
It was not the first time that Trump and West had positive things to say about each other. In late August 2015, at the VMA music awards show, West announced he was considering a presidential run in 2020. Trump, who was in the early stages of his campaign for the Republican nomination (the thought of his being elected was still totally ludicrous to most), hastened to comment:
“Kanye West, you know what? He loves Trump, he loves Trump. He goes around saying ‘Trump is my all-time hero,’” he told journalists. He later said he could picture West as his running mate. One can’t help but wonder what would have happened if it had been West, rather than Mike Pence, who was treated to a public dressing-down by the cast of the musical “Hamilton” in New York last week.
West’s comments about Trump were not well received by the audiences at his shows, nor by most African Americans, who have been hit hard by Trump’s victory and the euphoria it has sparked among racist groups. West did not confine himself to political statements, however. In the long, rambling speeches at his last two shows, he also insisted that he had to tell “his truth,” even if he had to pay a price for it.
Besides praising Trump, he also dissed the superstar duo of Jay Z and Beyoncé, his frequent musical collaborators. Unlike West, who was occasionally chided by President Barack Obama, the couple have only been praised by the outgoing president. They also publicly stood at Hillary Clinton’s side in the last stages of her campaign.
West’s praise of Trump and disparaging of his friends were part of a familiar theme. He extols “real” people, like Trump, and abhors whatever he perceives as fake.
For years now, West has been known for making long and very personal stream-of-consciousness statements that have often seemed almost out of control. Besides his great talent as an artist and producer, those media stunts have helped keep him in the spotlight for more than a decade (not to mention his marriage to the generation’s number one celebrity.)
His favorite trick has been to interrupt prize ceremonies, or talk about them in interviews, questioning the judges’ decisions or issuing implied threats ahead of their decisions. At least in part, this behavior seems to stem from an unwillingness to play by the rules. West is absolutely convinced that he is the best rapper of all time – and, as such, uniquely qualified to give marks to his competitors in the music industry.
But his behavior this time seems even stranger. The transcript of his bizarre comments and reports about his recent appearances make one genuinely concerned about West’s emotional state. Maybe it’s part of the general madness that has gripped America since the election, or maybe it only has to do with personal things he’s going through. Either way, it’s far from over.
West isn’t about to start keeping his mouth shut, and the American media isn’t about to leave such a famous person alone, certainly not after he behaved so oddly and then checked himself into hospital.