Kanye West on the Truman Show

Jose Vilson

Yes, I caught that Kanye West video of him crying in front of everyone at the Paris, France show. It was honestly one of the oddest things I’d ever seen in my life. According to sources, he only did the show because he wanted to fulfill contractual obligations, so he showed up. They played “Hey Mama,” in tribute to his recently deceased mother, Dr. Donda West, whose surgery is still under review, and he couldn’t even begin the song. He cried on stage for a full 10 minutes before he left.

While I disagree with his decision to endorse EdIn08, Kanye’s one of the few artists who reveals every part of his personality, and whether we think it’s TMI or not, everyone from the older generation to younger generation listen to Kanye for that brutal honesty about his Black-middle-class-preppie to hip-hop-superstar stories. Not only a brilliant producer, but a very good rapper nowadays, Kanye’s made everyone behind the boards and in the booth step their game up and give a little more than the money, hoes, and clothes lines.

The difficulty in revealing too much about yourself is that, while you become more accessible and your fans remain almost criminally loyal to you, your most tragic and tender moments become susceptible to lovers and haters of your art form alike. The same people who raised him this far inevitably can spin this as a raw and honest moment on his part (positive) or point to how anti-gangster he is, an attribute he’s played off in the past, but has also played with after College Dropout.

Yet, more critically, his appearance on YouTube with that mellifluous instrumental to “Hey Mama” playing in the background, people clapping, screaming, and rooting for him made me think of the Truman Show again. I wonder what the thought process was for those cheering him on: did they cheer for him because he was crying for his moms or because they wanted to make him happy enough so they could get their money’s worth? Do they support him as a person or as the fresh-and-cuddly rapper whose CD they keep on rotation?

In a time when media is instant and opinions come only a second after that transmission, this latest transmission of a pop star in obvious pain really hurt my heart. Because this is exactly the kind of artist that he is, and it’s also the type of people we are …