Kanye – Mirror of American Cognitive Dissonance


Kanye Omari West, born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Chicago, Illinois has become known to be one of the most exclamatory and self expressive artists of our day. Kanye, throughout the duration of his career has served as a singer, songwriter, and producer of numerous works. West’s work can be followed through eras of definable differences from year to year.

Kanye first major work began with his collaboration alongside Jay Z after this major break Kanye West exploded onto the musical scene as a figure of prominence. He later went on to produce for artists such as Ludacris, Alicia Keys, and Beyonce.

His first indipendent work “the college dropout” was an incredible sucess. This work challenged Hip-Hop to look past gangster rap and look through a more individualistic lense which incorporates the experiences of those who are not familiar with the “hustle”. In this way, Kanye West pinned himself as one of the most well respected innovators. Within this album Kanye speaks to the issue of capitalism, consumerism, religious freedoms. This quality content started Kanye on a positive path towards imortalism with the music world.

With the rappers sophmore album, “late registration” he pushed the boundaries even more pushin people to acknolege what was right. The same year of this album release Kanye was seen on live tv in front of million of people make is famous declaration that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” Dispite criticism, Kanye stood firm in his statement and used the momentary platform he was awarded to promote the truth.

The last album before Kanyes demise was “graduation.” This album similar to the rest, was centered around Kanye’s commitment to good work, espression of the self, and constructive criticism of society

When his mom and manager, Donda, died Kanye Wests entire persona changed. From which point on Kanye’s views became less a product of his internal realizations and more so projections of defensivism to make up for the extreme loss he had experienced. This loss of his mother led to numerous issues within his life that rose to the surface beginin with his attack of people publicly.

Kanye West arrived as an entirely different person than he was before when he ran on the stage at the MTV music awards to announce that Beyonce “should have won the award” that Taylor Swift was awarded. This marked the begining of defensive and reflective behavior that Kanye exhibited

Kanye’s Mother can be used as a direct metaphor to the core values in which he infused into his music and into his philosophies that were put on display in the early parts of his career. In this same way, the death of original emphasis within American society on individuality, freedom of thought, and Godly values, died with the birth and infiltration of radicalized capitalism.

It has been found in psychological studies that the “unexpected death of a loved one is common and associated with subsequent elevations in symptoms of multiple forms of psychopathology”(Am J Psychiatry 1) In Kanye’s instance, the deterioration of his mind stemmed from this point. Similarly, the death of the promotion of humanity, pursuit of happiness, and individuality with he infiltration of radicalized capitalism forever changed the foundational sanity of American society.

Racialized capiitalism involves the money and power attained by a ruling class through systems of racial heirrchy, dehumanization, and denial of rights. For America, and many other countries which participate in these exploitative practices, there is a burning need to mitigate the feeling of a denial of moral and ethical values. This feeling of denial of ones values such as “godly treatment of individuals” or in Kanye’s case, a commitment to individuality and self evaluation, results in a feeling of cognitive dissonance.

In America this internal conflict between striving for economic and social gain and maintaining morals ultimately led to extreme cognitive dissonance. The justification for their immoral and unethical actions was often done by making dehumanizing, unscientific, and unbiblical claims. The dissonance they experienced caused them to search for ways to reconcile with the barbaric behaviors which occoured during te founding of the country.

When speaking of black slaves, Thomas Jefferson said: “they require less sleep” and later went on to say that “they were dumb cowardly and incapable to feel grief” (“Post Traumatic”). The question as a result of these statements is why Thomas Jefferson, a Christian slave owner would feel the need to make such illogical and unscientific claims.

The idea of making the claim that black slaves have the inability to feel grief while selling mothers away from children and tearing families apart or slaves requiring less sleep while simultaneously working them all day long for personal economic gain is an interesting concept especially considering how unethical the practice of chattel slavery is. The dehumanization of African Americans allowed Jefferson and many other slave owners to feel that their actions were justified because they were able to separate themselves from the people they actively oppressed.

“John Newton said slaves are lesser creatures without Christian souls and thus are not destined for the next world.” How do you reconcile being the superior being and engaging in barbaric behavior? Human beings don’t function well with cognitive dissonance. So in order for people to perpetuate slavery and to perpetuate that whole system that lasted for centuries you had to remove all dissonance associated with it…Can’t be anything wrong with me…Certainly isn’t us were the civilizers… We’re the superior… Oh, see it must be them… See they don’t even have souls… now I can go to sleep because I’m not really dealing with a human being” (“Post Traumatic”)


Similarly, Kanye West, in his downward spiral has gone from discrediting Taylor Swift to turning his back on all of his original commitment to truth by aligning himself with the same conservative values he once expressed disdain for. As a result there has been a trend of defensive tweets fired by Kanye in defense of his view. additionally, he works tirlessly to defend his veiws no matter how luticrus they may be.

This work of “making things right” within his own mind has since been turned into a necessity and even a drug as the very ideas he promores which turn against his orginial values have brought him more attention and more fame from demographics of people who previously would not listen to anything that he had to say. This validation can be said to be a placeholder for the validation that once came from his ow deceased mother.

This validation is a drug, and Kanye will say and do anything to to defind his right to this validation.

This validation Kanye receives is very similar to the capital validation that America received through the dehumanization of prisoner, drug users, and poor people. despite americas supposed moral values, Americans will do anything an everything to define its dehumanizing treatment of these classes of people – Why ? – because it has made our country money.

The opined crisis is one of the more prevent issues within our country today. More people are addicted to opioids in American that people who have diabetes. Despite this fact, America has done little but demonize these people in order to continue off of the people who routinely are hospitalized due to overdoses and other medical expenses due to this addiction. One adict spoke to the New York Times stating

I had a career in sales in the automobile business. I was making a lot of money, upwards of $100,000 a year. Then I started up with the OxyContins. It’s an amazing feeling, that warm hug from Jesus. It started as a once-in-a-while thing. But I began telling myself, “Well, if I can feel this good on Friday and Saturday, why shouldn’t I feel this good on Tuesday and Wednesday?” And then the price started going up, and all of a sudden they’re $80 a pill. At this point, I’ve got a six- or seven-pills-a-day habit. I wouldn’t get out of bed without one. I always knew about heroin, but it was a line I didn’t want to cross. But, you know, the ship had already sailed. An opiate’s an opiate’s an opiate. I’m not trying to die, contrary to people’s belief. I’m not trying to kill myself. I’m just an addict.”


These people need help, but despite this persons addiction, our countries commitment to profiting off of their imprisionment, and lack of proper treatment is that much more addictive because it makes money

Kanye has had many runins with Opiod use. “In an early May interview with TMZ, West revealed that he had been addicted to opioids prior to his November 2016 onstage meltdown and hospitalization” (biography.com). Despite Kanye’s knowledge of this addiction, it did not stop him from working to attain a dopamine hit from making the controversial statement that same month that “slavery is a choice.” while many were upset by this statement, an incredible amount of support fro right wing politicians as well as people even within the black community came. they praised him for new and out of the box thinking further validating him.

Kanye displayed similar ideas in an earlier interview stating:

“Racism is a dated concept,” West told Clique TV. “It’s like a silly concept that people try to touch on to either . . . to separate, to alienate, to pinpoint anything. It’s stupid.”“It’s like a bouncing ball in a room with two cats, or something, when you don’t feel like playing with a cat. Let them literally fight over the bouncing ball. And the bouncing ball has nothing, no purpose, anything other than that: it bounces,” continued the rapper. “That’s racism. It’s not an actual thing that even means anything.” (Vanity Fair)

Kanye in order to further secure this validation returned to twitter to state that He “loves the way” that conservative Candice Owens thinks. Candice Owens has called the Black Lives Matter movement a “victims” group and has made appearances on Fox News and Infowars (Vanity Fair). It is this rhetoric that also has given candice owens the same validation.

America has  repeatedly used  rhetric to advance its missions of making money and dehumanizng. Fear mongering increases participation in voting and also increases commitment to the nation. Kanye uses these same tactics by convincing his followers that he is somehow superior intellectually in his analyzation of the progression of American society

In conclusion the downfall of Kanye west can be attributed to his need for. validation, a validation that is very much so present within American society. Through rhetoric and defensive language, both Kanye and America have used rhetoric to their advantage to advance themselves in power, money, and overall attention by close followers.


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