Twitter is a complicated beast. The oftentimes uncensored view it gives us into musicians’ lives can both connect us to them on a deeper level and also make us fear for their safety and sanity. And occasionally we find out someone we thought “just got us” is kind of an asshole. But those who deny that Twitter is a powerful creative tool when used in the right hands are dwindling by the day.
One of our favorite creative developments in the Twitter world in 2013 was the rise of the hip-hop parody Twitter. Through the work of a few shadowy figures we learned that Lil Wayne raps like, “Got HIV from an alligator, call that gatoraids,” and that Drake is definitely the type to sit on someone’s lap in the car when all the seats are taken. While some of these accounts flamed out out as quickly as they came, leaving us only the remembrance of their comedic gold to keep us warm, others have continued to fight on as 2014 approaches. One such account is Feminist Kanye, which Complex recently named #1 in their ranking of hip-hop parody Twitters.
We spoke to the creator of Feminist Kanye to see what moved him to craft this darkly comic and thought-provoking mixture of Kanye quotes and feminist theory, understand the value he sees in parody Twitters, and maybe glean some nuggets of wisdom about how to start our own viral hip-hop parody Twitter. We learned that, like Kanye himself, Feminist Kanye runs on complicated ideas and has a penchant for being misunderstood. Read the interview below.
AND HEY, MARISSA ALEXANDER, YOU’RE HOME FOR THANKSGIVING, SO HEY, MAYBE WE CAN GET YOU ACQUITTED FOR CHRISTMAS http://t.co/6XavwQ9Qgo
— FEMINIST KANYE (@feministkanye) November 28, 2013
P&P: What were your motivations in starting the Feminist Kanye Twitter?
FK: Not motivations so much as converging influences. One, I’ve always been a crazy huge fan of Feminist Hulk. It’s definitely my favorite joke Twitter of all time (… OF ALL TIME!!!) Two, I’m an enormous follower of Yeezus. On a day in June after Yeezus leaked online, I read a tweet from Jay Smooth about how regrettable it is that Yeezus gives the almost unimpeachable impression that Kanye hates women. Later that day, I saw that Feminist Taylor Swift exists and my brain went into high gear.
P&P: Do you think Feminist Kanye has accomplished what you wanted it to?
FK: I never expected it to accomplish very much, other than being an outlet for my zany, lyrical imagination. So it’s done that.
GRAB A DRINK, GRAB A GLASS/ AFTER THAT I… DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WITHOUT ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT.
— FEMINIST KANYE (@feministkanye) June 24, 2013
P&P: Why do you think people like Feminist Kanye?
FK: This is interesting. For the most part, I think people like it because there’s some humor in disrupting the public notion of who a feminist is. (Who doesn’t enjoy feminist theory in the guttural voice of a giant, green, masculine-presenting superhero?) Kanye West is an especially interesting subject, because of his views and his political anger in spite of some of his misogynistic lyrics. A feminist Kanye West feels liberating because intersectionality is liberating. But on another level, I have a feeling that a lot of our followers enjoy this because they actually disrespect Kanye. A lot of our followers are white people who respond with things like “Haha, oh Kanye…” or “Kanye, what a dumbass.” which misses the whole point of infusing his already profound and powerful lyrics with feminist theory. There exists a lot of Kanye hate already, which reveals through these particular responses various issues of race on Twitter or in the feminist community.
P&P: Did you promote the Twitter in any way, or did it spread without any push?
FK: I sent a Twitter message to Jay Smooth about it, and then he wrote a tweet about it. When I tweeted at Feminist Taylor Swift, they also retweeted and replied to it.
I HAD A DREAM THAT MEN COULD FIGHT GENDER VIOLENCE / WHEN I AWOKE, I PUT THOSE BELIEFS INTO PRACTICE
— FEMINIST KANYE (@feministkanye) November 20, 2013
P&P: What is the worst thing someone has tweeted at Feminist Kanye, and do you ever engage trolls?
FK: I never respond to trolls. I pay so little attention to them that I can’t even remember the worst thing.
P&P: What have been your personal favorite Feminist Kanye tweets?
FK: “AUDRE LORDE LORDE LORDE” is my personal favorite.
P&P: Did you feel the need to change Feminist Kanye in any way as it began to get more popular, or did that not make a difference?
FK: I’ve tried my best to incorporate other politics (class, race, LGBT, etc) into them. (Yes, I realize Kanye is already very political.) I’ve also tried to speak on Kanye-related and social justice current events. In general, I’ve become less and less satisfied with simply modifying his well-known lyrics, even if that’s what receives the most positive feedback. My greatest hope is to use Feminist Kanye to do types of organizing on the internet. During the government shutdown, Feminist Hulk put together resources for WIC recipients who were put at risk. That is incredible.
ILL NEVER LET MY SON HAVE AN EGO / HE’LL BE NICE TO EVERYONE WHEREVER WE GO / BUT PROBABLY STILL GET SHOT BY A WHITE MAN STANDING HIS GROUND — FEMINIST KANYE (@feministkanye) November 12, 2013
P&P: Do you think you and your audience are on the same page, does that matter?
FK: Evidently, I don’t believe a lot of my audience is on the same page. And eventually I’m going to get them on my level by tweeting some things that they need to hear. But if feminist hip-hop fans derive any sort of enjoyment from this Twitter, I’m fine with that.
P&P: You’re not trying to monetize this, are you?
P&P: What do you think is Kanye’s actual relationship to feminism?
FK: After the release of Yeezus, Justin Vernon said something weird to the effect of, and I’m paraphrasing: “When we talk in person, we’re not actually that misogynistic.” I found this weird because it was in part a way to cover his own collaborative ass and in part a deflection of criticism about Kanye’s other lyrics about women. To be clear, Kanye West is not a feminist. But what if he could be? I think almost all of the conscious hip-hop fans who have followed Kanye from the beginning have been trying for years to more clearly articulate the extremely complex issues that Kanye is trying to bring to the table. So when Kanye says unintentionally feminist-sounding things (“I’m trying to break glass ceilings,” in the Jon Caramanica interview) or interrogates masculinity in hip-hop (talking about the backlash he got to wearing pink), it just makes my heart sing a little bit.
TALKIN GEORGE TENET SEEN HIM THE OTHER DAY / ASKED ME ABOUT MY MAYBACH THINK HE HAD THE SAME / I ASKED CAN WE STOP TARGETED KILLINGS ABROAD — FEMINIST KANYE (@feministkanye) September 2, 2013
P&P: Do you have any advice for people looking to start their own rap parody Twitters?
FK: Job requirements #1, 2, and 3. You have to care deeply about hip-hop and the material that you’re parodying, its public representation, and all the issues at stake. But that’s all I can think of.
P&P: If Kanye tweeted at you, what would you do?
FK: I have no idea. I would personally freak out. But I wonder what he—as someone who cares so much about his own voice—would actually think about having a feminist Twitter alter-ego. Would he be pissed off? Would he appreciate it?
NEWS MEDIA PACKED IN / CAME TO SEE CHELSEA MANNING / NUMBER ONE QUESTION THEY’RE ASKING / FUCK EVERY QUESTION YOU ASKING — FEMINIST KANYE (@feministkanye) August 30, 2013
P&P: Is there a rap parody Twitter you want to exist that doesn’t?
FK: As Seamus Heaney once said, all the rap parody Twitters that had to be tweeted would somehow get itself tweeted.
P&P: Would there ever be a time you would consider killing Feminist Kanye?
FK: If it is ever used by the Twitterverse to actively denigrate Kanye or the politics that Feminist Kanye covers in a way that I can’t resist or control, I would shut it down immediately.
SOMETHING WRONG/I HOLD MY HEAD/MJ GONE/BUT TRANSPHOBIC JOKES ABOUT HIS GENDER EXPRESSION STILL AREN’T DEAD.
— FEMINIST KANYE (@feministkanye) June 18, 2013
Read more Feminist Kanye tweets here.