Leibo At Large: Hear Ye? Maybe his records, but not his speech

Kanye "Ye" West in 2011. (Stock image)

By David Leibowitz

My mother often cautioned us on the value of silence. She mostly spoke her mind and expected her kids to as well, unless we had no clue what we were talking about. Then she advocated holding your tongue.

“It’s one thing to be an idiot,” she would say, “but another thing to constantly open your mouth and prove it to everyone.”

Which brings me to the rapper/clothing designer/cultural icon Kanye West, who goes by the one-word appellation “Ye.” 

Ye, who has rapped beautifully about his late mother, Donda, has spent several weeks proving my mother exactly right and teaching us a valuable lesson besides.

It is possible to be prodigiously talented, wealthy and famous and still be a blithering idiot.

Ye’s recent turn in the media grinder began in Paris during Fashion Week, when he sported an oversized T-shirt with a picture of Pope John Paull II on the front and the slogan “White Lives Matter” on the back. 

While I agree with Ye that the statement is “obvious,” there’s no denying those three words carry a highly charged context: The Anti-Defamation League calls the phrase “a hate slogan,” seized upon by the Aryan Nation and Ku Klux Klan as “a staple among white supremacist mantras.”

In other words, this wasn’t fashion. It was like dressing up as a Nazi for Halloween and calling it “just a costume.”

Speaking of Judaism, Ye turned his attention there in an appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson show and on social media. His interview with Carlson was a rambling two-hour mess even before the really anti-Semitic comments — edited out for TV — leaked to the media. 

Among Ye’s greatest hits: “I prefer my kids knew Hanukkah than Kwanzaa. At least it will come with some financial engineering.”

Because, you know, Jews control the world’s money and all. 

Not content with claiming to “have visions that God gives me, just over and over, on community building,” Ye went on a social media rant that got him banned from Instagram and Twitter: “I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 on Jewish people. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti-Semitic because Black people are actually Jew also. You guys have toyed with me and tried to Black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”

Can I get an “Oy vey”?

The woke left, from Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez to singer John Legend, lined up on cue to cancel Ye. Others suggested that Ye, who has spoken often of his battle with bipolar disorder, might be off his meds and should seek help. 

Meanwhile, the business community, from Adidas to JPMorgan Chase, moved to distance themselves, either suspending doing business with Ye outright or announcing the relationship was “under review.”

Keep in mind, this is the same guy who said in 2018: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” 

Only now you’re reviewing his wisdom?

My take on Ye: He belongs on the Mount Rushmore of rap, alongside giants like Dre and Eminem. His talent has brought him wealth and fame, but like so many icons, he holds no special claim on intellect.

“Stronger,” “Gold Digger” and “Jesus Walks” are tunes I’ll spin until I die. But watch two hours of Kanye pontificate on kinetic energy or wear his atrocious chunky moonboots? Hell no.

The rich and famous might try keeping their mouths shut more often. As for Ye, he would be wise to heed a line from his classic “Hey Mama.”

“I know I act a fool,” he vowed to Donda, “but I promise you, I’m goin’ back to school.”

When Ye, when?