Kanye West, Traitor To His Class

Have the Occupy Wall Street protests become such an unstoppable cultural force that Kanye West — the rapper and self-proclaimed “Louis Vuitton Don” whose recent top single included money-loving lines like, “They ain’t see me cause I pulled up in my other Benz / Last week I was in my other other Benz,” — is jumping on board?

On Monday the hip-hop mega-star — wearing gold chains and a Givenchy designer flannel shirt — took a tour of the scene downtown with former record executive Russell Simmons, an outspoken supporter of the cause. His visit came on the same day that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who last week attacked the “99% Movement” for threatening to wreck the financial sector, conceded that the downtown crowd could stay indefinitely (although he seemed to hope that winter would drive them out).

But, more importantly: Kanye West! The rapper who, before he was the walking symbol of “luxury rap,” had shown a political side in 2005 when he told a live television audience watching a charity telethon for Hurricane Katrina relief that George W. Bush “doesn’t care about black people.” (And his earlier singles, before his embrace of “luxury rap” lost its tinge of irony, included ruminations like, “We’ll buy a lot of clothes when we don’t really need ’em.”)

Of course, one could argue that in 2007’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” he eloquently expressed the reasons extremely wealthy investment banks need to be regulated:

I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven / When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace / I told God I’d be back in a second / Man, it’s so hard not to act reckless

Which is all to say we shouldn’t be shocked to see more pop culture icons making their way down to Zuccotti Park in the coming days. Whether or not super-wealthy celebrities will embrace the movement if and when it emerges as a progressive economic force and not just a cultural phenomenon is a different story.

Anna Codrea-Rado at The Brooklyn Ink used Wordle to put together a word map of the most common demands on the Occupy Wall Street Forums:

(Visualization: Anna Codrea-Rado/ The Brooklyn Ink)

Here’s to Kanye dropping a single making use of them.


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