On Saturday night, performing in Britain, rapper Kanye West compared himself to Hitler—but in a good way. “I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m (expletive) insane, like I’m Hitler,” he told the crowd, to modest boos. “One day the light will shine through and one day people will understand everything I ever did.” Just … like with Hitler? No, just not like with Hitler, okay.
On Watch the Throne, his new album with Jay-Z—which dropped on iTunes Sunday morning—one track, “Who Gon Stop Me,” begins with Kanye rapping, “This is something like the Holocaust/Millions of our people lost.” Like because of Hitler?
Kanye has played with overstating the tragedy of the black experience in America—or, some would say, with arguing that what are commonly taken as overstatements of that experience are in fact apt—before. “I treat the cash the way government treats AIDS,” he rapped on “Gorgeous,” the second track on last year’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. “I won’t be satisfied till all my n***as get it. Get it?” (Get it?)
Still, to compare yourself both to Hitler and to Hitler’s Jewish victims in the span of a few hours takes plenty of chutzpah. Maybe Drake isn’t the most Jewish member of his feud with Kanye after all? In a subsequent verse of “Who Gon Stop Me,” Kanye compares himself to the sportscasters Marv Albert and Howard Cosell, two extremely Jewish men. Drake, speak up!
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.