Could he be affecting the way his fans perceive and respond to equality & diversity issues?
Watch the Throne Tour was a co-headlining concert tour by rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West
Back in 2011, I was offered the chance to see Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne tour and whilst not being the biggest fan in the world, I’m British, so I do love a good freebie and certainly wouldn’t have heard the end of it from my friends if I had turned down a couple of tickets!
I can honestly say it was one of the best concerts I have ever been to and after the concert, we all agreed – both Jay-Z and Kanye West were on top of their game; highly respected and influential. We all wondered where they could possibly go from there.
Fast forward a few years and both artists are still in the limelight – for Jay-Z mostly positive reasons but it seems for Kanye West not even for musical reasons.
Jay-Z is a portraying a positive influence
Jay-Z refers to himself as a ‘positive businessman’ who ‘used music as a way out of a life of crime and is now helping others.
He revealed not long after I had seen him, that he had organised a concert to celebrate the diminishing racial divide in the US, stating that he hoped “That Obama, America’s first black president would soon be followed by a Latino, female and a gay president”.
He openly endorsed Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and participated in his re-election campaign in 2012. He famously set up his Shawn Carter Foundation with the aim to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships further their education at institutions of higher learning, quoting “I am in a unique position to use my voice to affect change to this issue”
Press coverage of Kayne West
On the other hand, Kanye West’s media and press coverage over the last 3 years has mainly ignored the fact he has sold over 30 million songs in the United States, making him one of the best-selling artists of all-time.
The media has instead focused on his comments and attitudes regarding racism and equality (surprisingly even more so than his highly publicised relationship with the world’s most famous reality TV princess!).
At a time when companies and businesses around the world are making equality & diversity issues hot topics, comments from Kanye West, starting with his now infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and stating that ‘the media make him look like a “maniac” because they’re afraid of his “interracial relationship” is surely seen to be breaking down any progress that has been made, when it comes to diminishing any equality and racial barriers.
Nobody can deny that there’s been progress made in all aspects of equality…
The election of President Obama in America has changed perceptions of discrimination and racism. It gave people a belief that racial biases had softened, broke a psychological barrier and broke the ideas some people have that the world is a “white country”.
A survey says…
A recent survey in America showed that the majority of Americans supported an agenda designed to reduce inequality. They believed that increased diversity will lead to economic growth. Surely the world’s growing diverse population will offer businesses advantages and insight that we have not had before?
As of December 2013, Fifteen states in America, covering 34% of the US population – are issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples and over here in the UK, legislation to allow same-sex marriage was passed by Parliament in July 2013.
Civil rights movements helped ensure that all people became equally protected by the law
The strides taken since the days of Rosa Parks & The Civil Rights Movement, right up until where we are today with the passing of The UK Equality Act in 2010, shows just how far we have come.
Whilst the likes of Jay-Z are using his fame and significant power to be a positive influence, it seems that Kanye West continues to perpetuate and reinforce some stereotypes.
In a world where young people hang on to every word their idols say (just ask the lads from One Direction!) Kanye could possibly be affecting the way younger people perceive and respond to equality & diversity issues in the world. By highlighting these issues in the way that he has and causing friction between different ethnic backgrounds, races and religions, he may be doing more harm than good.