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Will fans continue to ‘walk’ with Kanye West and his rebranded Confederate flag?

Published November 8, 2013 at 8:04 am

Has Kanye West finally outdone himself?

It makes sense that the same man brazen enough to destroy Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMAs a few years ago, the same man who has adopted the moniker “Yeezus” — a portmanteau of “Jesus” and his nickname, “Ye” — would also try to rebrand the Confederate flag, and its role as a symbol of slavery, for his own ends.

The “Jesus Walks” performer has recently been spotted in public wearing the flag on a jacket, and it’s also been used in memorabilia sold during his current tour. Some have characterized the rebranding attempt as “yet another publicity stunt” by the rapper, while others see it as a way to sell t-shirts, tote bags and other items for the tour.

Not Kanye though. He’s taken a predictably grandiose, self-important perspective about his efforts.

“React how you want. Any energy is good energy,” he told a Los Angeles radio station. “You know the Confederate flag represented slavery in a way – that’s my abstract take on what I know about it. So I made the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag. Now what are you going to do?”

San Francisco State adjunct professor Dave “Davey D” Cook told CNN that West could have better handled the rebranding, perhaps by using the flag as an entry point to talk about race and slavery in town hall meetings during his tour, for example.

The media and the public would likely have perceived West’s actions less as antics and more as an attempt at stimulating meaningful dialogue if his rebranding effort had been a little more thought out.

Instead, it has come off as contrived.

Kanye West is nothing if not an active marketer and self-promoter, but he is prone to gaffes, and this rebranding attempt is just another example of one.

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