Kanye, boastful idiot or media wizard? With a series of tweets proclaiming being 53 million in debt followed by begging for funding from the worlds wealthiest I thought it was pretty funny for such an ego maniac like Kanye to be so clueless about his finances. Then again, it’s easy to be a baller on credit after all, at least for awhile. It happens to professional athletes all the time.
Kanye opens himself as fodder for comedians quite often, whether he is wearing weird clothes, surprising Mike Myers, or marrying low rent porn stars, his name is dropped frequently and rarely is it concerning his craft. Craig Ferguson and Stephen Colbert jump all over the debt news in the clip below, as I am sure Conan and the rest of the talk show comedians will be doing for weeks to come. Kanye sets up these tee ball home runs for comedians everywhere, it’s like he would benefit from having his name on the tip of everyone’s tongue right now, oh yeah he just released a new album. Imagine the distance this one tweet has gone for him in terms of exposure and trending on social media platforms. Surely he wouldn’t manufacture a reason to be made fun of for the sake of free publicity.
Whenever celebrities are in the news for reasons irrelevant to their talent I think of the quote…
I don’t care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right.
The quote applies to a great many bizarre headline grabbers that have a net result of more fame to the individual. Sex tapes are the obvious example everyone can understand. Kanye’s wife started an entire modeling career with one. Marco Rubio’s robotic repetition problem and subsequent improvement being the less obvious example. Marco Rubio repeats himself 4 times with dry scripted lines at a debate and everyone talks about that, rather than the issues or the front runner. The following debate he suddenly looks better by himself in comparison. Now they are comparing Rubio to himself rather than the other candidates. In that instance Rubio, like Kanye and his alleged debt, are willingly opening themselves up to ridicule to increase exposure. An easier example of this would be when Shia LaBeouf or Justin Beiber get arrested. Are they getting arrested on pourpose to get mentioned on the news? Does a fading pop star intentionally forgo wearing panties to get photographed by TMZ? Is the whole world their stage?
Sympathy for Rappers?
At one point Ferguson doesn’t even believe Kanye is in debt and says he is just trying for sympathy. CONSPIRACY THEORIST!!! Now this is an angle I have to admit I thought could never apply to famous people. I find it difficult to sympathize when there is such a disparity of wealth or even level of attractiveness. Why should I feel sorry for you, you are so beautiful, rich, powerful, etc. Sure your family member or coworker may play up personal drama to get preferential treatment and support from other family members and management they don’t need or deserve, but would this really work for rappers?
Then I read this timely tweet from Robert Greene.
Learn to enlarge your actions through dramatic techniques such as surprise, suspense, the creation of sympathy, and symbolic identification.
The key to Greene’s tweet is the creation of sympathy. So Kanye has an album dropping, how does he make it a bigger event than it actually is? Well, he could go on morning radio and late night talk shows or buy an ad for the superbowl but most of these options require time and money. Instead Kanye drafts a single tweet that he is in an extreme amount of debt, then all the late night talk shows and radio stations mention Kanye’s name. Inevitably they will also bring up that he has a new album dropping, the ultimate goal for Kanye, talk about his album without him having to pay them to do so. What is a little ridicule compared to millions of albums sold.
Kanye, without paying anyone any money trended on twitter with a single tweet. He will be joked about for years but aren’t we the joke for doing his advertising for him, this realization gave me pause for even wanting to write about it. I am still a bit surprised that sympathy as a ploy works for a man in genre like rap where boasting and self aggrandizing is the standard operating procedure. Hard to say you are the best and most creative genius in the world and then say you are in extreme debt in the next sentence. Sympathy certainly worked in Taylor Swift’s favor when Kanye staged the mic grab, but she is a girl and Kanye did it to her. Kanye put himself in debt, supposedly, it’s much harder to sympathize with people that dig their own graves. And yet, people are starting gofundme accounts in Kanye’s name and consoling him on twitter.
Robert Greene is one of my favorite authors and his writings help me to analyze events like these. He is also a favorite among rappers and even coauthored a book with 50 Cent linked on the right. He breaks down historical power dynamics in order for his readers to employ them in their life and career. I too would like to further my career in art and have read many of Greene’s books. His latest, Mastery, is perfect if you have found something you want to get good at and are looking for techniques at getting on the road to being the best.
Kanye Knows his Audience
… and it isn’t me. He has won several Grammys by now he knows the extent of his reach and his fan base, or at least his PR managers know. Kanye must be conscious of the fact that even when Chris Brown hits his then girlfriend Riana he managed to retain very loyal fans and a large following. Hitting your girlfriend seems more like a staged event for a rapper than seeking sympathy as it is the antithesis of the rap game, none of Kanye’s fans will stop listening to him.
If Kanye fans are anything like Trump voters they will continue to like him even if he drops the worst tone deaf single known to man, oh yeah he already did… Bound 2.