Kanye West was honoured with the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award, but Bounty Killer argues that there was a more suitable recipient.
Marcus Garvey is a Jamaica-native, but he is also a global icon held in high regard in black history. He was not only the first national hero of Jamaica but also the leader of Pan-Africanism, a worldwide movement that aims to tighten the bond among Africans across the world. He is a well-respected figure in history whose name has been lent to many literary works, institutions, streets, and even awards.
The Chicago Music Awards is one such franchise that has incorporated Garvey’s name. The awards recognize those who have made significant contributions to various music forms. For his great deal of contributions last year, Kanye West was honored with the Marus Garvey Humanitarian Award this year. However, the decision did not sit well with the public.
The very topic of discussion was an awkward one for many. Even the curator of the event himself, Jamaican TV personality, publisher, and entrepreneur, Ephraim Martin, was visibly taken aback when asked to speak on Kanye West receiving the award. In a statement to The Gleaner, Martin said, “Kanye getting this award is kind of a surprise to me. But he has been making contributions to different countries, and he came out on top of all [the other persons] nominees in that category.” While it is conceivable that Kanye simply outdid his fellow nominees as the founder and chairman of the Chicago Music Awards suggests, some Jamaicans are questioning what the rapper has done for Garvey’s country to earn such an accolade.
Bounty Killer was one of the many who weighed in on the conversation online. When an Instagram post captioning the story that West was honored with an award “named in honor of Jamaica’s first national hero,” Bounty voiced his opinion in the comments. “WTF HE HAS DONE FOR JAMAICA THOUGH PPL?” the dancehall veteran asked. “What a piece groupie move is Busta Rhymes should be getting that real advocate of Jamaican culture worldwide.” Kanye West visited Jamaica twice last year – once to link up with reggae icon Buju Banton in the studio and, of course, when he brought his Sunday Service to the island – an unforgettable experience that no doubt was a great highlight for the country as it was the first international stop for the popular event.
As some people reminded in the comments, the Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award has nothing to do with Jamaica in particular, as the recipient is honored for contributions far beyond that. In a single year, Kanye West made significant donations to several causes, especially those within the black community. He donated a 529 college savings fund for Gianna Floyd, the 6-year-old daughter of the late George Floyd, who was murdered at the hands of police brutality. The donation secures a tertiary education for Gianna as it will cover her college tuition in full.
The entertainer also donated to the families of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and covered the legal fees for the teams still fighting for justice for their families. In addition, Kanye made significant contributions to We Women Empowered, Buju Banton’s Buju Banton Foundation, Chicago black-owned businesses struggling in the pandemic, and he announced in late October that he will be teaming up with the Haitian government “to make a transformation investment to bring jobs, development, help support local farmers and fishermen.”
While many people disagree with the decision to honor Kanye West with this award, we can’t disagree with the facts. Kanye West has donated millions of dollars to causes affecting the black community, and he has committed to contributing to the improvement of countries in the Caribbean as well as cities at home in the United States. The billionaire rap mogul who ran for U.S. President in 2020 is no doubt a controversial figure but should that take away from his philanthropy?