When Kanye West was public enemy number one following his outburst at the 2009 VMAs, he went into seclusion for months before busting back onto the scene in a big way with performances at the Facebook offices, a private show in Manhattan and closing out this year’s Video Music Awards . His cartoon counterpart, Kenny West, however, was having trouble rebounding in the same manner Sunday night on the season two premiere of “The Cleveland Show.”
A down-on-his-luck Kenny West was homeless after his rap career failed to take off. “Look, it’s locally famous rapper Kenny West,” Cleveland says when he sees West dropping his daughter off at school. Cleveland invites the rapper to live in his garage.
He then persuades West to abandon his hip-hop pursuits. “Cable installers are today’s rappers,” he begins to spout.
Soon, though, Cleveland realizes his mistake when the younger West begins to dress and look like him, complete with Afro and bushy mustache. “[A mustache] shows the world you put away your childish dreams,” West says after his makeover.
The two attempt to hatch a plan to get Kenny West back on the scene, from an “8 Mile”-style rap battle to Cleveland trying to gouge out West’s eyes à la “Ray.” It’s not until they see a news report on a girl who fell into a well that the two conjure up a benefit concert. The resulting Kenny West song, “Be-Cleve in Yourself,” becomes a big hit, and soon West and Cleveland are on live TV.
“Barack Obama doesn’t care about black people,” Cleveland says to a reporter, a nod to Kanye West’s Bush tirade post-Hurricane Katrina, as an astonished Kenny West watches. In another nod to the real-life West’s antics, Kenny quips, “I still can’t believe Beyoncé didn’t win.”
Although Cleveland helps to orchestrate Kenny West’s comeback, the rapper (in another nod to the real-life ’Ye?) abruptly fires him and he returns to his family.
“To make it as a rap star, you have to make wildly irrational decisions, without even thinking about it,” Kenny West says. “Goodbye, Cleveland.”