Over the last week I listened to more than a few of my students casually mumble one of Kanye’s newest tracks while working on their math or english. And no, it wasn’t the Ye vs. The People song where he went bar for bar with T.I. throughout a song that was at least substantially relevant. It was the other song – if you have any ear for the culture, you know the song I am talking about. I am not even willing to provide you with the title of the song, even in the lowly blog, because it doesn’t deserve recognition. I simply refer to it as the “poopity scoop” song. And more than a few of my students were humming his “verse” while in class, clearly either amused or engaged with its content.
The fact that my seventh grade students would come to school echoing this nonsense is something new to me. Over the years, I have been privy to the understanding that, as a man in my early 30’s, I more belong to the “old head” generation than the “new school”. Year after year, there are always one or two things that the youth collective do that boggle my mind. Whether it was new songs like “Gangnam style” that caught on for whatever reasons or particular “challenges” that were downright life-threatening, I always viewed the cultural trends of our youth as just that – trends that would pass. But here we have an icon like Kanye West, someone known to people young and old, dropping nonsensical music and what’s even more contemptuous, speaking in the manner that he does. Just like the dude from TMZ said, Kanye West is not “free thinking” but speaking “without any attention to the thoughts coming out of his head”.
Kanye West was a legend. An icon. A self-described “god”. And for the most part, we all believed in him. When he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people”, we said, “damn right, speak that shit!”. He was our voice. But now he sits with his blonde hair ameliorating over Donald Trump while questioning the mandatory nature of slavery. Damn, what happened to the old Kanye? It’s time to echo what Bernie Mac said on the intro of Kanye’s first album, College Dropout – “what in the fuck was that, Kanye? I told you to do some shit for the kids!”
And like Bernie Mac continued to orate, “we can’t pull you across that stage” no more, Kanye. No one asked you to be the black music celebrity that would continue the spark of black excellence through words, rhymes, and beats. You asked for that. You proclaimed you were the “savior” of Chicago in not just a musical sense. But somewhere along the way you have lost your vision, or rather, it has changed drastically. And this new Kanye has severe implications. Even on a generation of youth that didn’t grow up with College Dropout while they were actually in college. In fact, my students don’t really know your music…but they do know you. Congratulations, you have made it into the lexicon of celebrity. So my students know you and now are familiar with your music by way of “poopity scoop”. Did you really accomplish what you wanted to with your latest “streams of consciousness” and tracks?
The College Dropout now seems to be an ironic twist on a initial album release by the man we know as Kanye West. Sorry to be the “old head” in the room, but these recent rappers have been dumbing us down enough – we don’t need it from a contemporary “OG” to the game. It inflicts wounds that I see in my classroom. It blurs what true “free thinking” and criticism mean from an educator’s perspective. At this point, “London Bridge is Falling Down” will no longer be “dope as fuck” to babies, but to the masses. Kanye, the new Kanye, is contributing to this watering down of intellectual and creative spirit. The results are apparent every day I walk into school. We do truly miss the old Kanye.
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