November 22, 2016
This year I walked in your fashion show for the first time and meeting you was as one of the most memorable experiences of my life. We didn’t talk much. Actually, we didn't talk at all because I was too nervous to speak up (you know how that shit goes). But if I could have said anything in that moment, it would have been thank you. Thank you for all that you've shown me as an artist and as a human being. I was 11 years old when I first heard The College Dropout. My dad use to play it in the car on repeat. So many of the experiences you had with your mom growing up reminded me of the time I had with my dad. Growing up, my family didn't have much. My dad, a recovering addict and single parent of 3, worked countless hours to make enough money to support my two younger brothers and I. I became very responsible at a young age, caring for my brothers and looking after the house while my dad worked. I saw the strain it put on my dad and it made me angry. I began asking myself questions like, why do we have to worry about making the last bit of food stamps stretch until the end of the month and why do we have to worry about how long the water or electricity would be shut off until the bill could get paid? I was stressed at home and bullied at school for reasons like my Adidas actually being from Payless, and having 4 stripes instead of 3. In 7th grade, toward the beginning of the economic crash, my childhood home was foreclosed on by the bank and taken away from us. I watched my dads spirit crushed under the weight of the American dream.
In 2012, 8 years after the release of The College Dropout, I dropped out of college to pursue my dream of becoming a full time fashion model. I packed up my stuff and moved across the United States to New York City. But when I got here I was rejected by every modeling agency over and over again. However, I was determined to get signed. To be honest, I “shoulda been signed twice”. There were so many people who told me no. But I made it— you made it. We are now in a position to share our stories with the rest of the world. Not many people make it out of the situations we made it out of and build a platform large enough to influence a nation. Don’t lose sight of how essential you are. Don’t forget that you were chosen to be in this position.
The College Dropout was pivotal in my understanding of the underlying functions in our society that kept my dad struggling to support our family. All Falls Down was a revolutionary track. Not only were you the fist black man I had ever heard publicly admit to being self conscious, which had to be especially hard considering your status as an up and coming rapper, but you shed light on the way our capitalistic and imperialistic nation feeds off insecurity, particularly within the black community. “They made us hate ourselves and love they wealth.” You opened my eyes to the phycology behind black consumerism. So many of us are so incomplete and so insecure and its society that has intentionally made us this way. Rather than rediscovering the identities that were taken away from us when we were brought to this country, our own insecurity been used as device to keep us buying things we don't need. Jesus Walks was yet another revolutionary track. You brought political and social issues to the forefront of hip hop though your examination mass incarceration, racism and poverty. I love your music because its always carried a message; Gods message. I know how much you love and believe in God and thats all I hear when I listen to your music. Its our God given purpose to lead our people out of darkness, that is why he gave us the ability to create. So we can function on this earth as a part of him. This is our truth.
When I saw you on stage at the Harper's Bazaar party during fashion week, I was at the side of the stage, singing every lyric to every song while everyone else in the room had their phones out, waiting to put your on their Snapchat to impress their followers. They couldn't begin fathom what it meant to me to see a performance by someone who had such a deeply profound impact on my life. To know that you're constantly surrounded by that is disheartening. It breaks my heart to see you going through whatever you're dealing with right now. You’re not just a hero to me, you're a super-hero and you’ve saved so many lives.
I have been meaning to write you this letter for some time now, but when I heard that you were hospitalized this morning, I knew it was the right time. Remember how strong you were when you rapped on Through The Wire. That car accident was suppose to be fatal, but you lived. God brought you through it so you could tell your story to the world and inspire little black boys and black girls. You are “a heaven sent instrument”. Its hurtful and harmful when you say things like you'd vote for Trump if you voted at all. Thats not the Kanye whose mom sat at a lunch counter and was arrested at 6-years-old. Thats not the Kanye who said “Niggas can’t make it to the ballots to choose leadership, but we can make it to Jacob’s and to the dealership.” So many people look up to you including myself. Kanye, you are the genius you say you are. You are as talented as you say you are. We believe in you so much. We are not judging you. We are praying for you. You are so unconditionally loved, so appreciated and so necessary. We need you to remember who you are. We need you to come home.