Ye vs. The People: Progressivism and Conservatism through the Lens of Kanye

If Yeezy would have only publicly lost his mind just two weeks sooner, I would have been happy to juxtapose his lyrical argument with T.I. over MAGA and Trump in “Ye vs. The People” with the debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois as expressed in the 1969 poem “Booker T. and W.E.B.” Unfortunately, since I’ve moved on to the post-WWI era, I had to shoehorn Kanye’s meltdown into a lesson about the differences between progressives and conservatives in regard to their ideas about the government’s responsibility those in need. In so doing, I challenged students to answer the question:

Is Kanye conservative?

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In this two-day lesson looking and listening to Kanye’s actions and lyrics from 2005 to his most recent outbursts, students took sides on the motives behind his madness (using a FANTASTIC educational tool called — which you will need to create an account for to do this lesson in its current form), analyzed his bars and ultimately generated a claim supported by textual (in this case, lyrical) evidence.


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It was a long way to go to simply teach the differences between the two political ideologies (as overly simplified as I had to make them for time and clarity) but the thoughts and writing it produced was well worth the time and effort. In doing this quick lesson, I reached students that had been fairly disengaged by the stale curriculum and effortlessly got more quality text-dependent responses from students than I ever have with history-based primary source documents.

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As an educator, I entered this discussion with students with my mind made up about Kanye, but I can honestly say that over the course of doing this lesson I got an insight into the way students are perceiving this, and while I don’t agree, I appreciate their take (Student Work Ex.1 and 2). Suffice to say, it’s more thoughtful than “Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop.” Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 6.04.40 AM.png

Check out all of my resources: (Google Slides Lesson / Google Docs Materials

We’ll be alright, fam. I hope you are able to make use of this.

Peace – Malikabasi


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