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Hip-hop superstars and their discontents 

click to enlarge J. Cole - STERLING MUNKSGARD / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Sterling Munksgard / Shutterstock.com
  • J. Cole
Hip-hop superstars are taking unprecedented heat from opposite corners: J. Cole for being overly mature, Kanye West for reaching new and offensive levels of crazy.

Criticisms directed at North Carolina’s J. Cole can be dismissed as the pompous and misguided idiocy of younger rappers like Lil Pump, whose barely bearable “Gucci Gang” hit speaks volumes about his judgment. Granted, Cole’s fifth album KOD — which may variously be interpreted as Kids on Drugs, King OverDosed and Kill Our Demons — is not as politically savvy as last year’s 4 Your Eyez Only, but its thoughtful meditations on addiction make those who chide him for being too serious and, at 33, too old, look like fools.

West is a tougher problem, having become a right-wing culture hero since embracing the current commander-in-chief. There are serious African-American conservatives he could emulate, but West’s lifelong problem has been his unbridled megalomania. He claims that he and the similarly delusional Trump share “dragon energy,” possibly a variant of Charlie Sheen’s “tiger blood,” and is now insisting that “slavery was a choice.” The universal blowback has caused West to scrap the planned May album Turbo Grafx 16 for a June release tentatively called Love Everyone. Some allies like T.I. opted for engagement, collaborating in the joint track “Ye vs. The People,” while others say it’s time to isolate and ignore West. Boycotts are up to individuals, but hopefully many will agree that West has revealed himself as both knave and fool.

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