Any praise from the wrong quarters emboldens critics’ denunciation of West. In The Root, for example, Jay Connor declared Kanye “canceled” because his album received positive reviews from the Washington Examiner and Donald Trump, Jr. Connor, like many critics, offers no substantive critique of the album beyond opposing West’s admirers. West hasn’t been spared criticism from religious figures, either. In an interview with Vice, Xavier Pickett, a visiting professor at New York University who holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary, suggests that West must be naïve to believe that African-Americans will automatically grant him absolution.
The most disingenuous attempt to cancel West appeared in the New York Times. In her op-ed, “Kanye West and the Cult of Personality,” culture writer Shamira Ibrahim declares that West’s weekly performance “reads like a blatantly self-serving appropriation of black faith traditions.” His services, Ibrahim concludes, are “in fact little more than concerts trading in aimless aphorisms and the cult of Mr. West’s personality.” She attacks West’s “freestyling,” overlooking the fact that he is a rapper. The Sunday services are a fusion of rap, poetry, gospel singing, sermons, and political discussion—not strictly religious observances.