As Kanye West’s drama with the “Today” show continues to unspool, some high-profile observers of the controversy have come out in support of the outspoken MC.
On Friday, mogul and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons wrote an open letter on his Global Grind website to Yeezy encouraging him to keep his head up, and insisting “there is no need to apologize” for his comments about President George Bush’s handling of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina rescue effort.
“When you spoke about President Bush during the Katrina telethon, it was not the particulars of your words that mattered, it was the essence of a feeling of the insensitivity towards our communities that many of us have felt for far too long. It was the image of the President, our President, the President of the United States Of America, peering out the window of an airplane, as the people on the ground were drowning, that hurt us the most. For centuries, our people have relentlessly tread water as hard as they could to stay afloat, and here we were, literally drowning, and it felt like the President was insensitive,” Simmons wrote. “You spoke from your heart and that is all we will ever ask from you. Don’t be afraid of the press, as your art is your blueprint, thanks to Jay-Z, your big brother, we will always carry our destiny in our own hands. You are an artist whose art is masterful. You are a servant to this world who no matter how hard it gets, keeps on giving. ”
The hip-hop impresario went on to applaud Yeezy for his creative accomplishments, citing his short film “Runaway” and his turn on the Simmons-backed “Def Poetry Jam” as moments he says West shined. He also spoke about the lyricist’s much-discussed run-in with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs , which has continued to be a sore spot for the superstar spitter.
“We witnessed your moment at the MTV Music Awards and many of us dismissed it as, ‘oh that is just Kanye being Kanye.’ ” he wrote. “The hard part of all of this, is that we have all had moments in our lives that have been challenging, painful and hard to overcome, however most of us just hide our emotions and never deal with that inner-struggle that we face on a daily basis.”
Simmons is not the only member of the Def Jam family to voice support for the headline-grabbing MC. Singer/songwriter Ne-Yo took to Twitter Friday, maintaining he was staunchly Team Kanye.
“@kanyewest Keep the creativity flowin’. Even when they don’t understand,” the Libra Scale singer wrote. “Up to us to keep this shit interesting, even if only for ourselves.”
‘Ye’s “Runaway” co-star Selita Ebanks has also said she reached out to West as his “Today” show saga played out.
“I wrote him some kind words, just [encouraging] him to stay positive and just concentrate on his music,” Ebanks told NBC New York’s Niteside blog at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show afterparty Thursday night. “He has a great gift and he should be appreciated for it.”
West has been embroiled in a public back-and-forth with NBC’s “Today” show after the MC taped an interview responding to former President George Bush’s recent comments about Yeezy. The “Power” lyricist has complained about the show’s use of footage of the Bush sit-down and the Taylor Swift stage-crash during his conversation with Matt Lauer. On Friday the MC pulled out of a scheduled “Today” show concert on November 26.
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