When we look at Kanye West today, we see a real-life version of Stringer Bell, the drug kingpin who was, at heart, a man without a country.
“When I look at you these days, I see a man without a country.” – Avon Barksdale
That quote is powerful in many ways. It came in season three of “The Wire,” HBO’s classic series detailing the drug war and how it ravaged Baltimore’s institutions, both legal and illegal, at a point when the friendship of Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell rapidly deteriorated due to Bell’s cold duplicity.
Barksdale wasn’t wrong in his assessment of Bell, whose ultimate goal for the Barksdale Organization was to take the drug dealing game to legitimacy. On his ill-logical quest to do that, he did, indeed, become a man without a country, not hard enough for the ruthless drug game, and not suave enough to mingle with the suits and corrupt politicians of downtown Baltimore.
When I think back on Stringer Bell, Kanye West comes to mind, as he has, in many ways, morphed into a real-life version of Stringer.
The similarities between West and Stringer became even more apparent in his visit to the White House on Oct. 11, where he had a sit-down lunch with President Donald Trump, and turned it into one of the weirdest press conferences the Oval Office had ever seen.
In a 10-minute soliloquy that went everywhere but logical, West ranted on everything, from Air Force One to feeling like “Superman” when he has on his “Make American Great Again” ballcap.
During that whole rant, I kept thinking about Stringer, and how he went to great lengths to show the downtown suits that he was legitimate, when everyone, including the suits, knew he wasn’t.
As corrupt Maryland state senator Clay Davis remarked to Baltimore Police detective Lester Freamon after robbing Bell of his money:
“We bled that [expletive]”
You have to think that Trump and the MAGA crowd is thinking this right now, to tell their future grandkids of how they bled West of his soul and morality, just to feed his ego.
Kanye is a man without a country, too far right to identify with the African Americans and other minority community anymore, while maybe, just maybe, not too smart or clever to truly integrate with the MAGA crowd.
After his rant, Trump could only “admire” the rapper’s thoughts, saying to the press that had the unfortunate opportunity to cover this fiasco “quite something.” Yea, it was quite something to Trump, as for the first time in his presidency, he was overshadowed by someone who is equally as narcissistic and vacuous as he is, which must have been a truly amazing moment for him.
But, in the end, what we witnessed in that rant, and from his actions during the past two years, is a man whose ego has overtaken his morality. You can’t pin his misguided reasoning on America’s issues on his mental health. West knows exactly what he’s doing, he isn’t crazy.
It’s just that, in his case of freeing himself from the shackles of “victimhood thinking,” he has lost the understanding of the plight of what so many Americans that don’t have his status or wealth.
Does this remind you of somebody? Oh, yea, Stringer Bell.
Bell’s focus was on one thing, making money on the drug game while trying to launder his dirty money through legitimate businesses, at the expense of his subordinates. While trying to legitimize the drug game, he lost the understanding of what made “The Game” what it was, and in the end, the suits played Bell the same way he played his subordinates.
Kanye is facing the same dilemma.
No one is trying to “silence” Kanye, as what he believes in his head. He can wear his red MAGA hat all day and night and spit illogical nonsense while smearing the good name of Perrier. He has the right, as all Americans, to speak his mind, whether one likes his message or not.
He doesn’t need help, what he needs is an Avon Barksdale, telling him about playing these away games with people who, at heart, truly don’t take him seriously.
They see him as a real-life “Minstrel Show,” putting on this performance for the MAGA crowd while bringing shame to himself and African Americans as a whole. What made it even worse was that the reason for his visit was about bringing an end to the epidemic gun violence that’s plaguing Chicago, which quickly became the sideshow to West’s weird rant.
Kanye West doesn’t need a hero, nor does anyone need to make “bring 2006 Kanye back.” West is at the point where he has to save himself from his own self-destructive path, just like Stringer, but, like his fictional counterpart, that doesn’t seem to be happening no time soon.