Kanye West dares to question the liberal narrative

West’s rejection of such a worldview represents a threat to the ideological monopoly that “social justice warriors” and Black Lives Matter advocates have enjoyed in the hip-hop universe. From its inception, the genre has generally reflected the left-wing consensus that minority communities are hapless victims of institutionalized racism and that individuals have no say in their destiny. For example, Big Pun’s “Capital Punishment” lays the woes of the ghetto at the feet of a government “system so organized, they’ll get to you and who you runnin’ with.” In “Murder to Excellence,” West himself asserts that the lower “life expectancy for black guys” reflects that “the system’s working effectively.”

But hip-hop artists have also expressed frustration with their communities for playing a role in perpetuating negative social conditions that define much of black America. In “The Story of O.J.,” Jay-Z argues that young blacks reject bourgeois values like financial literacy and personal discipline to the detriment of themselves and future generations. “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club?” Jay-Z asks. “Credit./ You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” In “44 More,” Logic chastises rappers for their glorification of frivolous spending: “You in the club throwin’ dollars/ but I’m savin’ mine so my kids go to college.” And in “The Blacker the Berry,” Kendrick Lamar highlights the hypocrisy of those who over-identify with official martyrs while ignoring the fact that most murdered young black men die at the hands of their fellows. “So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?” Lamar asks, “when gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me?/ Hypocrite.”