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Being a Kanye West fan in this day and age is trying.

It was easy around The College Dropout years. He was the thoughtful, forthright rapper with an appreciation for soul samples, and I was a teen from the South Suburbs of Chicago who was captivated.

It was even easier when he came out with Late Registration in 2005. By that time, he’d proven himself to be a formidable talent in hip-hop, both in terms of production and lyricism. West also didn’t disappoint outside of music, being both bold in his confidence and uncomfortably honest in his words. When he told millions of people on live television after Hurricane Katrina that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” he garnered a new fan base and a whole new level of respect (and some racial hatred, which is to be expected). To be Team Kanye was a given for many midway into the new millennium. But years later, it’s become embarrassing.

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For all the talent he has, even the quality of his music can’t overshadow the focus on publicity-stunt inspired behavior. The more things he’s said outside the studio, the harder it has become to say “Don’t come for Kanye! He’s a genius.” Instead, I’ve found myself, more often than not, sitting in silence as people in my presence berate someone who is a former idol. The continued commentary, whether he is calling out Beyoncé, the woman he’d proudly jumped on stages for, or saying he would have voted for Donald Trump, who really doesn’t care about Black people, became toxic. It was like watching a friend who is a good person get trampled in the court of public opinion because they continuously make bad decisions. It’s almost like they’re taking you down with them.

The more he talked and the less he let the music speak for him, the more my head shook. The more he Kanye’d, the more it became stressful to sit back and watch West self-destruct.

So when I read that he was finally receiving help for something much deeper than an inflated ego (though narcissism is a personality disorder), I was relieved. Finally, I thought, ‘Ye will be able to open up about the impact his mother’s loss has had on him. Finally, he will just sit back and do the work to be happy. And really happy. Not the I’ve finally received the admiration and adoration from others that I’ve been craving type of happy that seems to matter to him. I didn’t need him to be the Kanye West from College Dropout, which is something so many have longed for. I was just hoping that he would receive some peace and get back to the music when the time was right.

But just a little over two weeks after being hospitalized, West is back. He was spotted out at an art exhibition in West Hollywood last week looking fluffier and sporting a blond hairstyle. I thought, okay, maybe he’s just slowly getting back to doing things that he enjoys. Taking in an art show isn’t strenuous and, in fact, it’s pretty healthy.

But meeting with Donald Trump is not.

West was spotted at Trump Towers in NYC earlier today for a meeting with the president-elect. Soon after, he posed for a picture with Trump, smiled and dapped him up in the lobby in front of cameras before heading out with Kris Jenner’s boyfriend, Corey Gamble. All I could think as he exited was, “He is back, and on the same bullsh-t he was on before.” Just like that, it was back to the same stress and disappointment for former and present West fans, including myself. He slipped out of the public eye for a few weeks, but came out just as confused as he was before. Hell, he could be worse.

There is no question that West needed more time. But I’ve realized that those of us who have rooted for him in the past, who wanted him to get better and be better, also need more time. I think I speak for many people when I say that we’re over the rants. They used to have insightful points, but now they’re literally just whiny tirades. We’re tired of his beefs with the Grammys, with radio and with the fashion industry. We’re tired of watching him mean mug 90 percent of the time. We’re just tired.

In the beginning, I said that being a Kanye West fan is trying, but what I really meant was exhausting. Who he has become can’t even stay out of the music. And to watch him go from the “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” guy to this, has been like having the rug slowly but surely pulled out from underneath one’s feet.

As I told a friend earlier today, watching West is like being a participant in an episode of Intervention. After enabling someone for years into thinking everything they say and do is remarkable just because they call themselves a genius, we realize that they’re far worse off than originally thought. When they finally seek help, they leave treatment early and prefer to stick to doing things their way, which hasn’t been working. We’re left to watch them continue their spiral, wreaking havoc while expecting those who love them to stay down and clean up after them. That man needed to stay behind closed doors. He needed to take his time. He needed to work on himself in private. Instead, he’d rather be a caricature of himself in public.

Whether I’m a former fan or a dedicated one (I’m teetering somewhere in the middle), I want West to be happy and healthy. At this point, I don’t care who he is married to, what kind of music he makes or what awards he does or doesn’t obtain. All that pales in comparison to the travesty of watching him pretend he’s the right-hand man of a bigot. It’s another punch to the gut for those who’ve tried their best to stand with him but find themselves saying, “I love Kanye, but I don’t know how to receive this…”

So as selfish as it will sound, I need him to take a step back and get happy and healthy. Not just for himself, but for those of us who can’t bear to watch him flounder in the bright lights of the public eye for another minute.

 

Image via Splash and Shutterstock 

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