Wait, Were Kanye’s Tweets Just Promo For His New Album?

Photo: Paras Griffin/WireImage/Getty Images.
What in the heckington is happening? Have we been played by Ye all along? It surely wouldn’t be the first time that Kanye West was a step ahead of us, but his new song “Ye vs. the People” featuring T.I. has us seriously scratching our heads. It’s almost as though Ye, through his lyrics, predicted everything that we would say about his new politics.
In the song, West waxes philosophically about unity, love, and free thought — oddly contrarian themes that have cropped in his recent Twitter screeds as of late. “ But ain't goin' against the grain everything I fought for?” he says, which lines up with a Tweet in which he said “I love when people have their own ideas. You don't have to be allowed anymore. Just be.”
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West also defends his support of President Donald Trump and wearing a Make America Great Again hat in a photo. “Actually wearin’ the hat’ll show people that we equal,” he raps in the song. Later he says, “Make America Great Again had a negative reception / I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction.” He references his newfound individualist politics with the line “Not worried about some image that I gotta keep up,” something he’s been talking about publicly on Twitter: “And any fan of me wants Ye to be Ye even when they don't agree because I represent the fact that they can be themselves even when people don't agree with them.”
Still, that support of Donald Trump has cost him lots of fans, from Rihanna to our own Channing Hargrove. T.I. lyrically portrays the character of moral outrage in the song, imploring Ye to consider the damage and hurt he’s done with his recent statements. He directly addressed the concern that “free thought” doesn’t help the most vulnerable people among us. “It's bigger than your selfish agenda/If your election ain't gon' stop police from murderin' n-----s, then shit…,” a direct reference to West’s tweet about “nothing changing” in Chicago.
It isn’t clear when the song was recorded. T.I. mentioned being in the studio with Kanye the day before the song was released in a now-deleted Instagram story, but the controversy was still very much erupting when these lyrics were written. If “Ye vs. the People” isn’t a well-executed troll, it’s a heavy-handed indication that West is much more self-aware than we’d been giving him credit for. Still, as fans, we have to ask ourselves: is being punked in such a visceral, gut-wrenching manner an unforgivable offense? Or is Kanye still just being Kanye: acting and reacting? Either way, if it feels troubling, maybe it is. You can listen to the song below.
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