Opinion: 'New Slaves' Reveals An Inconvenient Truth About Kanye West

Kanye's anti-consumerist contradictions went down easier before he started to ball so hard

Kanye West is a genius. No denying that. This weekend’s unveiling of his latest record, “New Slaves,” was viral marketing brilliance. It brought together folks of all backgrounds to not-so-hood areas of major cities to consume hip-hop. Bravo! And the song is great, lyrically. It grabs you right from that vivid opening couplet about segregated water fountains. Backpacker Kanye is back! Or is he?

Sonically, “New Slaves” would make a perfect album intro. Its synthesized beat is simultaneously eerie and contagious, his vocals blunt and impassioned. But the message is a bit convoluted. Here’s a giant, scowling Kanye face illuminating 66 walls around the world, grumbling about how Black folks spend too much money on ludicrously priced fashion, and celebrities—himself included—are coerced into signing bogus contracts merely to cash in on luxury car bonuses. Corporations are profiting, while the underclass and rich rappers who refuse to read paperwork are under the psychological spell of materialism. Or as Yeezy puts it, “new slavery.” It’s a direct bridge connecting College Dropout ‘Ye—“I spent four hundred bucks on this/Just to be like, ‘Nigga, you ain't up on this!’”—to Watch The Throne, only these days, Kanye isn’t just the victim; he’s part of the problem.

You could call it the Kanye conundrum. The Versace that he facetiously mispronounces in “All Falls Down” is now the Alexander Wang that he sports in excess, in turn, making it the lust of fans who might be able to afford a Wang duffle if they skipped a couple mortgage payments. The Maybach that he converts into a go-kart and joyrides for the “Otis” video isn’t in the budget for this writer, despite the heft of VIBE’s payroll (ha!). And have you ever tried to stuff your toes into a pair of Nike Air Yeezy sneakers that are so limited that their $250 retail value reportedly ballooned to $90,000 in an online auction? The truth is, Kanye is contributing to the same materialistic values he shuns on "New Slaves."

Many great MCs have exhibited contradictory views via art; Nas and 2Pac come to mind. It's simply human nature. Yet can a man who’s claimed he shops so much that he can speak Italian—the same dude who played mute at an Occupy Wall Street protest while flaunting multiple gold chains—truly be a voicebox for the middle-class man? Kanye's early work, while conflicted between Benzes, backpacks, diamond chains and blood diamonds, christened him with that distinction. And it fit, mostly because he wasn't one of music's most influential sartorial trendsetters and self-proclaimed spitter of "luxury rap." We could relate to the pressures of rocking fresh, but affordable, Air Force Ones and throwback jerseys that were already the status quo. And then Kanye got his money right. Now, the flashy new money stunts and One Percenter raps that 2013 'Ye exudes makes him an unconvincing proponent against consumerism, and an unlikely victim, as he presents himself in "New Slaves." While the song has protest rhymes about the lopsided Black men in prison statistics, just a few bars earlier he’s flossing for listeners who, in some cases, can’t even afford dental insurance. Def Poetry Kanye seems to be a fading memory.

There’s leaders and there’s followers. Kanye may belong to the former classification, but as a people, where exactly is he taking us? —John Kennedy

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Ebro Comments On Kodak Black Interview, Says Hip-Hop Will Need To Acknowledge Sexual Assault

Ebro Darden was interviewed by Nadeska Alexis about his viral interview with Kodak Black, where he attempted to start a conversation surrounding the rapper's looming sexual assault case. When the "Tunnel Vision" MC became uncomfortable, he left the interview. Darden seemed to catch more heat after the interview from the Internet from fans and musicians like Trick Daddy.

"I was trying to show him that ‘we take it seriously," Ebro said during his Beats1 interview. "You’re a young guy, but I also have to acknowledge the people watching this, and we can’t just gloss this over and act like it didn’t happen."

Kodak is currently awaiting trial for a sexual assault case, which is slated to occur in April 2019. Ebro acknowledges that he didn't enjoy how the interview ended, but he did not try to set him up, as many Internet folk somehow believe.

"Periodically throughout our conversation, I acknowledged he had a tumultuous past," he said. "I didn’t even want a response from him, I actually put it forward so that the people watching that know what he’s going through and either have been through sexual assault themselves, know some people who have and just know that it’s a serious conversation, know that I’m just not glossing it over for the sake of an album coming out."

Ebro concludes by saying that hip-hop culture and American society need to take sexual assault and the accounts of hurt women seriously, especially in regard to Christine Blasely Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.

Watch the entire exchange above.

READ MORE: We're Looking At Y'all: Hip-Hop Won't Have A 'Me Too' Moment Because Of Apologists

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Kanye West Claims Drake Threatened Him And His Family

Things are growing more intense between Kanye West and Drake. Only hours after Kanye's first rant, he hopped back on Twitter on Dec. 13, for part two. Only this time, Ye alleged that Drake threatened him.

In the second part of his Twitter rant, Kanye claimed that his phone call with Drizzy took a violent turn. "Drake called trying to threatened me," he wrote. "So Drake if anything happens to me or anyone from my family you are the first suspect. So cut the tough talk."

It's unclear what Drake may have said to Kanye, but the Kids See Ghosts artist definitely seemed to be bothered by the situation.

Ye also touched on their previous feud, in which he claimed Drake was taunting him in public, but would refuse to sit down and hash out their differences. "How you gone text Kris but not speak to me," he said, referencing his mother-in-law Kris Jenner.

As previously mentioned, Kanye's latest tirade comes shortly after the rapper put Drake on blast for not returning his phone calls. He stopped tweeting for a short period when he announced that Drake had finally given him a call.

While Kanye stated that he would not physically harm Drake like "MTV boxing," he did say that he would not be bullied or threatened by him any longer. "You trying to be a bully. I never been bullied in my life and I never will be," he said. "That’s why I made it this far in a pink polo."

Check out Kanye's Twitter rant below.

Drake called trying to threatened me

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

So drake if anything happens to me or anyone from my family you are the first suspect So cut the tough talk

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

It just doesn’t sit right on my spirit

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

He be texting people I know like it’s cool But won’t sit and talk with me

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

There would never be a drake without a Kanye west so never come out your mouth with a threat

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

We both too high profile for you to actually do something to me

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

You [email protected] people with mental health issues

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

You say all this shut to me but won’t say none of that to J prince

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

Talk tough to real gangsters bro

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

You trying to be a bully. I never been bullied in my life and I never will be. That’s why I made it this far in a pink polo

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

I’m up for talking. We need to show all of these fans that black men [email protected] without someone ending up dead or in jail

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

We need to show the world that we will speak without someone ending up dead or in jail

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

How you gone text Kriss but not speak to me

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

Drake I’m not going to physically fight you like it’s MTV boxing

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

Nobody scared of anything

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

Leave me and my family alone bro

— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018

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Pharrell And Robin Thicke To Pay $5 Million In "Blurred Lines" Lawsuit

Marvin Gaye's estate has finally settled its lawsuit against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke regarding their 2013 hit single "Blurred Lines." A federal judge reportedly ordered the duo to fork over nearly $5 million in damages to the Gaye family, Billboard reports.

According to a ruling from Judge John A. Kronstadt, Thicke, Williams and William's company More Water From Nazareth Publishing Inc. will each have to pay $2,848,846.50 in damages. Thicke will have to pay an additional $1,768,191.88 and Williams and his publishing company will pay another $357,630.96 to the Gaye family in separate payments regarding their lawsuit. In total, the damages amount to $4,983,766.85.

The Gaye estate is also entitled to receive interest on the damages against each party and will receive a  running royalty of half the "Blurred Lines" revenue.

As previously reported, Marvin Gaye's estate filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Williams and Thicke back in 2013. They claimed their single sampled Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up" without permission. Both Williams and Thicke's legal team attempted to get the case thrown out but were denied an appeal in Mar. 2018.

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