Ryan: Kanye West and the Great Society

Graphic by Alexander Somoskey.

Donald Trump has been name-dropped by nearly every major rapper of the last 30 years, starting with a reference by Beastie Boys on their iconic album Paul's Boutique, the Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop.

He's been mentioned by Jay Z. Ludacris. Young Thug. Nelly. Kendrick Lamar. Juicy J. Rick Ross. Eminem. Big Sean. A Tribe Called Quest. Scarface. Lil Wayne. The Coup. Master P. Ice Cube. Mos Def. Raekwon, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and various other Wu-Tang Clan affiliates. R. Kelly. Pete Rock. Nas. E-40.

And don't forget this surreal moment in our nation's history.

Then-candidate Trump on SNL ... dancing to a Drake parody.(Screenshot from YouTube)

When Bun B referred to Trump on the Chopped-n-Screwed anthem "Pocket Full of Stones," he was keeping with a tradition of rappers admiring Trump. This only changed a few years ago.

But then there's Kanye West, who proudly donned the red MAGA hat after discovering Candace Owens and being called "a jackass" by our nation's first black President. Then Kanye was hugging President Trump in the Oval Office? While wearing a Make America Great Again hat, supposed symbol of white supremacy, Nazism, hate, evil?

(Screenshot from YouTube)

People flipped. Everyone did. Longtime critics suddenly — and bizarrely — embraced Kanye as an ally, while longtime defenders disowned him, abandoned him like nail clippings, often mocking his struggles with mental illness and labeling him, if you can believe it, a white supremacist.

Then, in a moment that changed music history, Kanye released the single "Ye vs. the People."

Ye vs. the People (starring TI as the People) www.youtube.com

In it, he challenges what he sees as the unspoken rule that black Americans have to vote Democrat. He had hinted at the idea on his track "Black Skinhead," from the hauntingly gorgeous album Yeezus, but now he was addressing it head-on, with the passion of a man going to Confession for the first time in a decade.

Why should black folks have to abide by any set of cultural or political or artistic guidelines to begin with? And, he argues, the pressure to adhere to this longheld framework is itself undergirded by a subtle and cleverly masked racism, imposed by a group of people who portray themselves as the champions of race and enemies of white supremacy and destroyers of dumb yokel rednecks with their Rebel flags and monster trucks and fully-automatic AR-15 assault weapons. All of which, it turns out, is some next-level projection.

Kanye also confronts the presence of these expectations and stereotypes in hip-hop. The idea that rappers must invoke a negative persona in order to succeed. And the moment they deviate from that image they are rebuked or ignored, even though the persona is damaging to the black community as a whole. Which is especially ironic given that the people who voice the most outrage tend to be highly privileged, supposedly progressive white folks who love to rant about white privilege and black oppression.

Is it better if I rap about crack? 'Cause it's cultural?
Or how about I'ma shoot you? or f**k your b***h?
Or how about all this Gucci, 'cause I'm f****n' rich?

Best of all, Kanye has answers. And they differ from the erudite solutions offered by, say, A Tribe Called Quest, who, like Kanye, have modeled a healthy, positive image of blackness for the black community.

A central theme within "Ye vs. The People" is empathy as power, rebellion, freedom.

Make America Great Again had a negative perception
I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction
Added empathy, care and love and affection
And y'all simply questionin' my methods.

This concept is an extension of the powerful devotion to positive energy that Kanye adopted around that time, a purview he has cultivated into a wild new form of electronic gospel.

But his personal transformation was tough.

That [MAGA] hat stayed in my closet like 'bout a year and a half
Then one day I was like, "F**k it, I'ma do me"
I was in the sunken place and then I found the new me.

This is a struggle that many Americans undergo. Researchers call it the spiral of silence. The idea that the news media and social media present biased opinions as though they are fact, and when the message conflicts with a person's opinions or values, they feel isolated, alone.

Kanye and T.I. during the making of "Ye vs. the People"(Screenshot from YouTube)

As Kanye raps in "Ye vs. the People"

A lot of people agree with me but they're too scared to speak up.

Because we have an incredible ability to sense public opinion. So when we suspect that we hold a belief that rails against acceptable thought, we tend to keep quiet about it. That silence makes the opinion seem even more taboo, resulting in a more widespread silence.

In reality, many of these supposedly taboo opinions are not only popular, they are normal and practical and logical. Healthy, even. And the real danger is in demonizing them. But too many people are afraid they'll be ostracized for expressing their beliefs.

Like how — despite what we've been led to believe — most Americans cannot stand political correctness.

But the small minority of people who champion it are powerful and loud. They're like that cardboard city in North Korea, just visible enough from the border to make it seem like a thriving community. They're the Wicked Witch of the West, or Iago from Othello, or Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants.

So far, they have been successful. Although "success" by their metric is anarchic and primal, all destruction and loudness and people nervous to speak their mind. And the cost of rebellion can be devastating.

By the time Kanye West wrote "Yay versus the People," he had gotten sick of this power dynamic. So he broke the spiral of silence."

*

In the words of German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Whoever has language has the world."

Humans alone have it.

But in order for us to know freedom in our world, our language has to be public, shared, active. Because each of us thrives constantly with language, a stream of it always in our mind. Aristotle defined "thought" as the infinite dialogue between the soul and itself. Conversation is the exchange of thought between people. When we converse, we simultaneously release our infinite dialogue and accept the other person's. By speaking, we shape the world and free ourselves.

*

Another way to say it is that Donald Trump might have inspired the song that could very well signify the end of Hip-Hop, which is not only the most popular genre of our zeitgeist, it's the most popular, and successful, form of music in American history, which is the most important era of musical history.

If the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and Drake literally outpaces the Beatles, then, well, you get the point God forgive me. And Kanye is bigger than Drake. So who better to have the final word on the capacities of Hip-Hop than Kanye West?

Nobody.

Every genre must come to a close. There's a reason why people aren't eagerly awaiting the next great disco album, or flocking to arenas to hear the newest bluegrass superstar, or asking to get their hair done like the latest syringe-armed guitarist of Guns N Roses.

(Screenshot from Instagram)

The great era of Rock 'N' Roll ended roughly about the time Radiohead traded their guitars and drums for synthesizers and sequencers, not long after Kurt Cobain took an insane amount of heroin and cradled a shotgun in his guesthouse, only to be discovered several days later by an electrician. Even worse, Nickelback soiled Cobain's legacy with godawful anthems, and who have their own weird and contradictory and hilarious connection to President Trump.

These days, Rock N' Roll lives mostly via nostalgia, as evinced by the explosion of cover bands. Notice how you don't see any hip-hop cover bands. You will, someday. But, for now, Hip-Hop reigns supreme. And Kanye is the King.

The brilliant Nina Simone once told a reporter that "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times."

Because music accords itself to the gravity and creative truth of the era. And currently we entrust hip-hop with this complicated maneuver.

But the past year, Kanye has been crafting a new sound through his Sunday services, weekly jam sessions with acoustic musicians and a choir and everyone dressed in white, praying through song, herding us into a better place, looking above for guidance. If it's anything like his track "Ultralight Beam," it will bring calm to our divided culture.

Mark my words: The resultant album will usher in an entirely new era, a magical flash in human history.

So far, hip-hop has been the defiant child of R&B and Electronica, the grandchild of Spoken Word and Steve Reich Minimalism, with tinges of Punk. Not for much longer. Kanye will see to that. And, weirdly, President Trump has helped inspire this transformation.

Meaning, Donald Trump will have had a hand in reinventing music as a whole, in spreading a movement of positive reformation. Love him or hate him, it does not matter. What other politician can make that claim?

There's an optimism to this that Dave Chappelle captured in his now-infamous Saturday Night Live monologue, just days after Trump was elected, asking Americans to at least give the man a chance. And again in his special "Equanimity," when he said

I swear no matter how bad it gets, you're my countrymen, and I know for a fact that I'm determined to work shit out with y'all.

In a moment of now-tired irony, the usual suspects heaped a barrage of hate at Chappelle for these remarks. But their outrage does not matter, in the grand scheme of things. Because it is an incredible time to be alive. It's beautiful. We should never forget that, no matter how petty or outrageous daily life gets.

At the moment, we are a country that is — everywhere, secretly — hurting. But we are Americans. Together. This is America. And, every day, God delights in our greatness and our empathy and our endless gift for love. So open your heart and listen. Say what you need to say.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on subpoenas to compel Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on alleged censorship and bias across their platforms. But that all changed when Republican committee members "expressed reservation about the maneuver," Politico reports.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, was definitely not one of the committee members with cold feet. On the radio program Tuesday, he told Glenn Beck that he's fighting "vociferously" to ensure Dorsey and others testify before the November 3rd election.

"Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg are both going to testify. They're are going to testify in person. They're going to testify before Election Day. That's what I think should happen," Cruz said. "That's what I'm fighting vociferously to happen. Right now, the companies are negotiating with the chairman's office to discuss terms to come voluntarily. I don't give a damn whether they come voluntarily or under subpoena. They need to testify in person and answer questions for the American people about why they are trying to steal this election, to suppress the free speech, and to censor the press."

The subpoenas would require Big Tech leaders to testify on the alleged "suppression and/or censorship" of two consecutive blockbuster stories from the New York Post. The first story was about emails that allegedly came from Hunter Biden's computer which are currently being investigated by the FBI, and the second was based on additional emails that allegedly showed communist China directly offering millions of dollars to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

"Big Tech stepped in, and they've done something they've never done before," Cruz explained. "We know that Big Tech has been censoring individual conservatives, trying to suppress conservative speech. But the step they took here is, they blocked if any individual user tried to share either of the New York Post stories, [they] were blocked ... Sharing a news story, from a major media outlet is part of democracy, part of free speech. And not only that, they blocked the New York Post itself. Right now, today, the New York Post is not being allowed to post its own damn stories on corruption. This is ridiculous. It's a threshold that's never been crossed before, of Silicon Valley oligarchs declaring the authority to determine what the press is allowed to report, and who is allowed to see it."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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If we learned nothing from the media over the past 4 years it's that colluding with a foreign entity to either win an election or for personal gain is absolutely grotesque. Well, that depends on whether you have a (D) or (R) before your name anyway. President Trump was impeached on rumor and innuendo yet Joe Biden has all but skated on his corruption up to this point.

Below is a timeline that shows the level of corruption and the lengths the Biden's went to in order to build that family's wealth and influence internationally.

2009

In 2009, Joe Biden was the brand-new Vice President and John Kerry was a U.S. Senator. Just five months after Joe was sworn in, his son Hunter, and Kerry's stepson, Christopher Heinz, formed an international private equity firm called Rosemont Capital. It had several different branches, including one called Rosemont Seneca Partners.

2010

Just nine months after Rosemont Seneca opened its doors, Hunter Biden went to China for meetings with executives from China's biggest banks, and its sovereign wealth and social security funds. That's unheard-of access for a brand-new firm. Was it just coincidence that at the same time Hunter was meeting these Chinese bigwigs, his dad was meeting with China's then-president Hu Jintao in Washington DC at a nuclear security summit?

2011

In May 2011, Joe Biden met with Chinese officials for the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue conference in Washington. Just two weeks later, Hunter Biden went to Taiwan for meetings with the same Chinese financial giants he'd met in China in 2010, plus some new ones.

2013

By December 2013, Joe Biden was enjoying his second term as VP, and John Kerry was now Secretary of State. That's when Joe traveled to Beijing on an extended official trip and Hunter traveled with him on Air Force Two.

During their stay, Vice President Biden met with President Xi and Hunter was mostly out of sight. We don't know exactly what he was up to, but the deal finalized between Rosemont Seneca and the Bank of China just ten days after the Bidens' trip pretty much gives it away. The most powerful financial institution in China formed a joint venture with tiny Rosemont Seneca to create a giant new investment firm called Bohai Harvest RST – the "RS" stands for Rosemont Seneca.

The firm is often called "BHR" for short.

Hunter Biden was a member of the Board. Remember, the Bank of China is government-owned, which means its business is completely intertwined with the goals of the Chinese Communist Party. BHR also got the freedom to operate in the newly created Shanghai Free-Trade Zone where, over the next six years, it would use $2.5 billion of Chinese government money to invest in China, as well as in other countries, including the U.S.

During their Beijing trip, Hunter also introduced Jonathan Li to his dad. Li is Hunter's business partner – he's CEO and Director of BHR.

Hunter arranged for Joe to meet Li in the lobby of the hotel where they stayed during their Beijing trip.

2014

In 2014, one of BHR's first major investments was in the China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

CGN is a Chinese government-owned nuclear power company that sold off a stake of the company to outside investors. Problem is, CGN was under FBI investigation for paying informants in the U.S. to steal nuclear secrets.

In 2016, the FBI arrested the ringleader of this nuclear espionage, a man named Allen Ho.

When they arrested Ho, he was using a random code generator to access funds being provided to him from – where else? – the Bank of China.

Yet while this FBI probe was going on, the son of the Vice President owned a stake in the company being investigated. And even after arrests were made, Rosemont Seneca did not alter its relationship with BHR, nor did it divest from CGN, even though it was stealing U.S. nuclear secrets.

2015

In 2015, BHR partnered with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to buy an American company called Henniges for $600 million.

AVIC is a gigantic military contractor in China – think Lockheed Martin – that makes fighter jets, bombers and drones. BHR bought 49% of Henniges and AVIC bought 51%.

Henniges is a precision parts manufacturer specializing in anti-vibration technology. The stuff they make is known as "dual use" by the U.S. State Department, which means the technology can also have a military application.

Because of that, the deal had to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) since it could have national security implications. The thing is, the American side of BHR – meaning Hunter Biden and his pals – had to know there were serious national security implications with AVIC.

The year before they formed a partnership with AVIC, the Wall Street Journal reported how AVIC stole technology related to the U.S. Air Force's F-35 stealth fighter and used it in its own stealth fighter for the Chinese.

How the Committee on Foreign Investment approved that deal remains a mystery. CFIUS does not publicly disclose any information regarding its decisions. Their findings are not publicly announced.

Interesting that China accounted for the largest share – with 74 transactions – approved by CFIUS during Obama's second term (2013-2015).

Under the umbrella of Rosemont Capital was a real estate company called Rosemont Realty. In 2015, a Chinese company called Gemini Investments bought a 75% stake in Rosemont Realty. The company was renamed Gemini Rosemont

Gemini brought $3 billion to the partnership with Rosemont, with the aim of buying "Class A institutional-quality commercial office properties in U.S. markets."

Red flag (literally) – Gemini Investments is a subsidiary of the China Ocean Shipping Company, a.k.a., "COSCO."

COSCO is a Chinese government-owned company. Its headquarters in Beijing is actually next to the headquarters of the Bank of China. COSCO is well-known for its close military ties. It's essentially a branch of the Chinese Navy.

2017

In 2017, BHR invested in Face++. That's the facial recognition phone app built by a Chinese company that is incorporated in a separate app built by the Chinese government. Police in the Xinjiang [Sin-jong] region of China use that app to keep tabs on citizens, and track and detain Uiguhr [Wee-ger] Muslims.

The app allows police easy access to data about Chinese Muslims including things like religious activity, blood type, and even the amount of electricity they use.

2018

In March 2018, a spokesman (Chris Bastardi) for Christopher Heinz (John Kerry's stepson) emailed The Hill to say that Heinz had "no operating role" in Rosemont Seneca, and that he was not involved in any of Rosemont's deals in China (which contradicts Schweizer's report in his book Secret Empires).

Chris Heinz was involved in Rosemont Capital. Rosemont Seneca was established under the same GP as Rosemont Capital, but Chris Heinz had no operating role in it. Chris and his family have no financial interest or investment in Bohai Harvest RST, he has never traveled to China, and he has never met with the firm's Chinese management team or investors.

2019

In October 2019, Hunter Biden's lawyer, George Mesires, said Hunter did not conduct any business on that 2013 trip to Beijing with his Dad.

Mesires said the timing of BHR's business license getting approved was purely coincidental because the paperwork had been submitted months before the Bidens' China trip.

According to Hunter's lawyer, the approval " was not related in any way, shape or form to Hunter's visit."

Hunter Biden finally stepped down from the BHR board last October (2019), but he DID NOT give up his 10% stake in the company.

When Bevan Cooney — the former "junior" business partner to Hunter Biden and Devon Archer — went to jail in 2019, investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer thought he'd never gain access to the damning emails Cooney had promised. That all changed three weeks ago when Schweizer was given complete access to Cooney's gmail account.

Schweizer joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to describe just some of the business deals revealed within these emails — like Hunter working with an alleged Russian criminal and with Chinese communists to secure their assets, or to secure one-on-one time with his dad, then-Vice President Joe Biden. And all of this new information is completely separate from the emails allegedly discovered on Hunter Biden's laptop recently reported by the New York Post.

"So, I want to make this clear. This [Cooney's emails] has nothing to do with what's on the laptop … It didn't come from [Rudy] Giuliani. It didn't come from anybody else, right?" Glenn asked Schweizer.

"That's absolutely correct," Schweizer confirmed.

He briefly explained how Cooney, a former Los Angeles nightclub owner, is currently serving a prison sentence for his involvement in a fraudulent business bond scheme with Biden and Archer. From prison, Cooney gave Schweizer written permission to access his Gmail account.

"This is really important," he noted. "We're not looking at printouts. Not looking at PDFs. We're actually in his Gmail accounts themselves, sifting through these emails. And there's a shocking amount of information about deals involving China, involving Russia, involving all sorts of things they were trying to pull off."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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The king of "No Spin" and bestselling author of "Killing Crazy Horse," Bill O'Reilly joined Glenn Beck on this week's podcast to talk about the latest developments in Joe Biden's Ukraine and China corruption scandal. Now that some of the details are finally coming out in the open, does the average Democrat care? Maybe, but the Left doesn't seem to.

O'Reilly argued there's more hatred for President Donald Trump now than in 2016, and that some people hate President Trump so much that they'd rather vote for the "senile, corrupt" Joe Biden.

"Hunter got tens of millions of dollars from Ukraine, from Russia, from China because his father was vice president. I have no doubt in my mind," O'Reilly said. "But the hatred for Donald Trump overrides that in the minds of millions of viewers. They're saying, 'You know, we'd rather have the senile corrupt guy than Trump.'"

Asked by Glenn if any other Republican running for president would be met with the same level of vitriol, O'Reilly answered, "The Left is the Left. They don't like America. The want to redo the Constitution. They want to take some of our freedoms, like the Second Amendment and the First Amendment, and change them. And they want to destroy capitalism and replace it with a big centralized government in Washington that controls the economy … but I'm talking about the folks. I have liberal friends and I say to them, 'Do you not understand that when you vote for Biden, you're voting against your own self interest?'"

Watch the video clip from the full podcast below, or find the full episode HERE:

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