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Kanye West, Russell Simmons Occupy Wall Street (Temporarily)

October 11, 2011

Well anywhere there is a spotlight, you can expect Kanye West.

Kanye West's brief appearance at "Occupy Wall Street" protests on Monday are sure to leave a similar, ineffective mark. The musician's silence and non-acknowledgment of fans was a far cry from the invaluable support Bob Dylan or John Lennon would lead to protests past.

The egotistical hip-hop loudmouth dropped by protests on Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan Monday, alongside infamous music mogul Russell Simmons. Easily not a member of ‘the 99%,’ West remained mostly silent, refusing to acknowledge fan calls and not integrating himself into protests in any way.

Rather the rapper appeared as nothing more than a casual observer walking with Simmons, who was scheduled for an interview on Reverend Al Sharpton’s MSNBC radio show, broadcast live from the scene.

West was so silent, Simmons even provided media with quotes for him.

“Kanye has been a big supporter spiritually for this movement,” Simmons said. “He’s just here to stand with the people. He’s not in the politics of it. He doesn’t want to make a statement, didn’t want to do any media at all actually, but he’s here and so I guess there’s no way around it.”

What Mr. West didn’t understand was the ridiculous, some would say unearned power a figure like himself can yield in movements such as “Occupy Wallstreet.” Whether it be through performance, encouraging words, shaking hands with supporters or even just taking a seat with protestors, West showed little sense of care or authenticity amongst the hordes of protestors who have worked tirelessly to endure what is now a movement entering its third week.

This is a far cry from the Bob Dylans or John Lennons of the world. Our musical icons of the 21st century, or at least some like Mr. West, are not ready to step out of the glamor and sit alongside the common man. At a time when fans and protestors alike need a pick-me-up, celebrities and figureheads should be clasping hands with them, not standing behind security personnel or gates.

Come to think of it, had he reacted differently, my entire opinion of West may have changed for the better… In the meantime, Mr. Billy Bragg, the gentleman from England, is offering some valuable support.


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