Opinion: A good rap for Kanye West — mental health awareness. No joke!


It must be terribly frustrating for Kanye West to see a Supreme Court confirmation fight in Washington elbow his new album out of the national spotlight. But that’s show biz.

His latest wave of newsmaking appearances and tweets makes me wonder whether, at best, we’re watching a genius at work or, at worst, the slow, public disintegration of a man who revealed in a June radio interview that he has been diagnosed with a “mental condition.”

Or, as some have speculated, maybe he’s only using that suspicion to add a little more edge to his appeal in the always edge-hungry world of entertainment.

In recent days, he has:

— Announced on Twitter that he is changing his name. The “being formerly known as Kanye West” tweeted, “I am YE.” He also changed his Twitter display name to “ye,” although his handle remained “@kanyewest.”

— Announced while onstage with Chance the Rapper in Chicago, where they both grew up, that “I gotta let y’all know that I’m moving back to Chicago and I’m never leaving again.” Never mind TMZ’s reports that his reality TV-star wife, Kim Kardashian West, and their three children will remain in Los Angeles, where Ye owns several properties that he has no intention of selling. He will move the office of his company Yeezy to his new “home base.” When you make his kind of money, you can have more than one home base.

— While wearing a red Donald Trump campaign “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, ad-libbed a rambling speech from the “Saturday Night Live” stage after the show went off the air. His remarks touched on Trump, racism, Bill Cosby and liberal bullying.

But wait, there’s more. The next day he tweeted a photo of himself wearing his MAGA hat and a statement that appeared to call for repeal of the 13th Amendment that outlawed slavery. “This represents good and America becoming whole again,” he wrote. “We will no longer outsource to other countries. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love.”

It also sparked widespread consternation and confusion. He apologetically clarified that he meant to say “amend” not “abolish” the 13th Amendment.

That’s why I’m not holding my breath waiting for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to accept Ye’s call this past week to meet with his pal President Trump and have “a dialogue not a diatribe.” That’s a nice thought, but Trump has leveraged too much appeal to his conservative base by fanning flames of outrage at Kaepernick and other NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

Still, sales of Kanye’s music and Yeezy shoes don’t appear to have suffered much. If anything, his controversies have only firmed up the old show business — or shoe business? — adage that any publicity is good publicity. That’s usually true, in my experience. But there’s another issue that the artist formerly known as Kanye could be uniquely well-suited to address: Mental health awareness.

No joke. Ye has the right to believe whatever he wants. But he also has the power to deliver important messages about mental health, which he sort of tries to do on his new album, “Ye.”

On the track “Yikes,” he raps that his “bipolar (barnyard epithet)” is “my superpower, ain’t no disability, I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero.” And the album cover has a photo of mountains in Wyoming behind the handwritten words “I hate being Bi-Polar it’s awesome.”

Ironically and coincidentally, the first full week of October happens to be Mental Illness Awareness Week, officially established by Congress. That makes this a particularly appropriate time for Ye, the great attention magnet, to show the world how mental illness is a very serious condition that, with good information and treatment, doesn’t have to stop anyone from being a superstar.

Writes for Tribune Content Agency.



Reader Comments


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: The return of paganism

Here are some generally agreed-upon facts about religious trends in the United States. Institutional Christianity has weakened drastically since the 1960s. Lots of people who once would have been lukewarm Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers now identify as having “no religion” or being “spiritual but not religious.” Religious belief...
Who gets to be an American anyway? 
Who gets to be an American anyway? 

What is an American anyway? I’ve always known that the late President George H.W. Bush was a good American and it is not because I necessarily agreed with his policies or politics. Politics and policies are beyond the point when it comes to the question. Apple pie is mighty good, but there is more than one kind of pie in this world. Maybe it...
Opinion: Katy Tur, France’s riots and panic mode

NBC’s Katy Tur, responding to an article in the New Yorker about climate, looked into the camera and asked, “How pointless is my life? And how pointless are the decisions that I make on a day-to-day basis when we are not focused on climate change every day, when it’s not leading every one of our newscasts?” It’s a safe...
Opinion: Climate denial was the crucible for Trumpism

Many observers seem baffled by Republican fealty to Donald Trump — the party’s willingness to back him on all fronts, even after severe defeats in the midterm elections. What kind of party would show such support for a leader who is not only evidently corrupt and seemingly in the pocket of foreign dictators, but also routinely denies facts...
Opinion: Movie tells ignored story of ‘America’s biggest serial killer’

WASHINGTON — A word can be worth a thousand pictures. In the movie “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” the mild word “snip” describes what the camera, demonstrating the eloquence of reticence, does not show in gory detail: Kermit Gosnell’s use of scissors to cut the spinal cords of hundreds...
More Stories