This is tough to start.
First thing I can think of is being in the back of a rickety bus, driving down a dirt road in Costa Rica with my eighth grade class, listening to College Dropout on my CD player.
I’ll go ahead and say that album changed my life. In terms of the plans I had for it. There were several albums that made my mind up about being an emcee. College Dropout was top 3.
Those of you who know me know that my opinions about Kanye West are often angry, dismissive, and unrelenting. He lost me after 808’s & Heartbreaks. I’ve often expressed that Graduation was his last good album.
And I stand by that. It’s all a matter of taste.
My problem with Kanye West isn’t rooted in his music. It’s rooted in who he is.
Better yet, who he thinks he is.
Or, who he wants us to think he is.
Upon the release of Yeezus I’ve seen and heard people everywhere talking about how it’s brilliant, and revolutionary, and most of all, genius.
Which, sure, it is…in some ways…but this isn’t an album review, so I won’t get into that.
What I’ve noticed is that their main point is that Kanye has reached levels in artistry that puts him above what is current. His lack of fear to do things differently sets him apart.
He didn’t release a single, ooh.
His marketing campaign to promote Yeezus was to project the video for New Slaves on 60 buildings across the world, aah.
There’s no album art, whoa.
And I’ll admit, that’s what got me.
All of these things are extremely creative and brave, and I respect that. As an artist, one should never hesitate to break new ground, and make people think. I respect Kanye for making us think. Making me think.
But as an artist, that’s his job.
Kanye West has always had a cocky attitude, that’s always been clear. And for a while, that was my sole reason for disliking him so much. And even still, most things he says piss me off extremely.
But it’s deeper than that. Kanye has single-handedly made himself into a cult figure. A living legend.
And no album he released did that for him. He did it himself.
By complaining about not winning Grammys. By causing that stir at the VMA’s with Taylor Swift. By his run ins with paparazzi. By the rants at his shows. By impregnating Kim Kardashian.
His public life outside of music has defined who is as a person, and to me, that overshadows his artistry.
All of his albums are extremely creative and each one is incredibly unique, but as an artist, that is what he is supposed to do.
So when people flock to see him in the flesh, hang on his every tweet, rush to see any video of him with Kim, swoon when they hear of anything new having to do with this man. This god-like man (pun intended) I ask why?
And I realize, it’s because he said to.
He has proclaimed it, “I Am A God”, and because he said it, the people believe it.
Is it really that easy? And if it is, what does that say about us?
Since when has arrogance become something we respect? Something we consider incentive to claim that he is an artist above all artists?
When his art, at most, is the highest form of self-expression he, and only he can give?
As is any artist’s.
Why put his above the rest?
Because he said to? Meh.
I start to wonder which fans actually appreciate the music, and which fans latch on to his “godliness” simply because everyone else has. Who feels pressure and who doesn’t, you know?
When his music began to change, I became uneasy. I chided him for not staying true to himself.
Then I realized that was stupid.
As an artist, you are required to change, required to discover, and rediscover. It makes no difference how you make your art, or who you make your art for, you must never become comfortable. And I respect Kanye West for never getting comfortable, but I cannot respect him for putting himself on a higher platform, and allowing his fans to put him on a higher platform than other artists, because of things that have nothing to do with his art.
Kanye is absolutely in a category set apart from what is popular today, but it is not a category of his own.
Artists do different things every single day, it keeps us on our toes and allows us to grow.
When Common released Electric Circus, he received an incredible amount of shit for doing something different, and through all of it, he chose to remain humble (the same happened with Universal Mind Control).
You succeed, you fail. And as far as music goes, it’s always, as I said, a matter of taste.
But as an artist it is your job to do things differently.
And I can’t sit here and worship an artist for doing his job.
So my point is not that I will alienate Kanye from the artists who I think deserve more respect, but treat him as their equal, and listen and judge for myself how I would any other artist I truly respect.
And I think that’s something more of his fans should consider doing.
But maybe he is set apart. Reading back on what I’ve written so far, it’s extremely eerie how similar my views of him are to views of Charles Manson, or Jim Jones, or that nigga in Russia who thinks he’s Jesus. Cult leaders. Maybe he is a genius, because he knows what he’s doing.
After I listened to Yeezus a few times, I started listening to College Dropout again.
This is why I say maybe he is set apart…because in All Falls Down he predicts where he is now. Listen to it for yourself, but the lines I’ve been sitting on for a while are:
“it seems/we livin the American dream/the people highest up got the lowest self esteem/the prettiest people, do the ugliest things/for the road to riches and diamond rings”
…and this nigga just had a baby with Kim Kardashian.
I’m just sayin…the white man get paid offa alla dat.
“for that paper, look how low we’ll stoop/even if you in a benz, you still a nigga, in coup”
Maybe I’ll give him prophet, but not god.
With that being said, I dig Yeezus for the most part. Black Skinhead, New Slaves, Can’t Hold My Liquor, Bound 2, Blood On The Leaves, all standouts for me.
But my personal tastes won’t allow me to keep Yeezus on my iPod for long.
It’s innovative, but it’s noisy, and I’m straight off noise.
But that’s just me.
Most people love it, but a lot will hate it. Just don’t act as if it’s blasphemy. That’s silly.