JOEY THYNE-Kanye Rocks
JOEY LOVATO-Kanye Sucks
Kanye West is the great art rapper of the 21st century. He has incorporated profound aesthetic expression into mainstream pop culture. Kanye is not merely a rapper, but an artist. He has made contributions to fashion, film and has collaborated with a number of contemporary painters including Takashi Murakami. But, most importantly, his music has expanded culture.
On the classic feel-goods “College Dropout” and “Late Registration” he translated his brilliance as a producer to make two of the greatest albums in hip-hop history. His ability to make beautiful beats out of soul samples is transcendent. His ear for song structure is unmatched in the industry. Without these albums there wouldn’t be a lot of today’s rappers like Chance the Rapper or J. Cole.
With “Graduation,” Kanye ushered hip-hop past the stagnant gangster-rap era lingering from the early 2000s into the pop-influenced electronic hip-hop that is still prevalent today.
Rolling Stone names “808’s & Heartbreak” as one of the most groundbreaking albums of all time, and I have to agree. Kanye was the first to introduce moody, melodic R&B textures into hip-hop. Without this album there would be no Drake, Frank Ocean or The Weeknd.
“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is the best album of the past decade. Its extravagant maximalism has not been matched before or since. The production is so lush and tremendous that it crossed genre boundaries and even inspired indie albums like “Age of Adz” by Sufjan Stevens and “22, a Million” by Bon Iver.
Then, at the peak of his success, he could have easily coasted and begun the deceleration of his career. Instead, he released the darkly experimental “Yeezus.” Bringing the industrial acid house scene to the spotlight, this was one of the greatest risks ever taken by such a famous artist, and it paid off. The brain-melting fury of songs like “On Sight,” “New Slaves,” “Hold My Liquor” and “Blood on the Leaves” is still goosebump-inducing nearly four years later.
Kanye has an album for every mood: nostalgic, celebratory, confused, angsty. But, my personal favorite aspect of Kanye’s music is his ability to to make sweeping emotional statements in a way no other artist can. He pours his soul out over heart-wrenching instrumentals. On “Street Lights” he speaks about his mom’s death, on “Runaway” he speaks about his inability have a functional relationship and on “Only One” he declares his love for his daughter. While most rappers get too sappy when they talk about their feelings, Kanye can be vulnerable while maintaining his dignity.
Dignity… that is not a word I would not use to describe Kanye West, or the people who idolize him. Kanye is a product of the media. He is so self centered and perpetuates this idea of vanity to the point that it is actively harming our culture. Look at his music. Do you know what “Street Lights,” “Runaway,” and “Only One” all have in common? They are all about him. Kanye is self obsessed and encourages others to be the same, he has lost his touch and can’t innovate musically or lyrically, and there is definitely more interesting music out there.
He isn’t trying to make any socio/political commentary like, NWA, Common, Macklemore, Eminem or Kendrick. Kanye is popular because people like to idolize others who idolize themselves. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be confident, but there is a line between confidence and arrogance. It’s just like the saying goes, no one loves Kanye like Kanye.
Kanye is popular for being a douche bag. People like Kanye because he is an asshole, and if he can be such a jerk why can’t others. He is so far up his own ass that he can sell a white T-shirt for $120 and call it high fashion. He is the Marcel Duchamp of our generation (Duchamp is the artist who signed a urinal and called it art). The biggest problem with all of this though is that people in our generation fall for all that he represents. We buy his t shirts, we praise his ego stroking albums, we wear his $2,000 Yeezy shoes, we watch him and his wife on television as a way to escape our ever boring and self involved lives. We call Kanye Yeezus for god sake! He has duped everyone into thinking he is some sort of second coming of Christ, but in reality he is basically everything bad about millennials wrapped into a lifeless, uninteresting douche of a person. We are called the selfie generation for a reason, which is ironic because most of us don’t even realize why, even though we are looking at ourselves constantly.
Kanye hasn’t been innovative the way Grandmaster Flash was with his revolutionary style of DJing or MF Doom and his newer use of sampling and incorporating multiple personas and characters into his anti-establishment raps. Instead of trying to better others, Kanye talks down to them, and sees himself as the prodigal son of music. Oasis singer Noel Gallagher was once quoted saying they were bigger than The Beatles after one hit song. Kanye had that moment, but this time people fell for it for some reason, and he’s been stuffing his garbage in our ears like they are desperate for their next rush of the musical equivalent of MSG for too long.
So people hate Kanye because he’s arrogant. Oh boo hoo. If you are under the belief that you favorite artist isn’t a narcissist then you’re delusional. Kanye just doesn’t care enough to pretend to be humble. Other than being an egomaniac, what harm has he done? John Lennon was a heroin addict who neglected his first son and beat women. Are you going to tell me you’re not going to play “In My Life” at your wedding? People need to separate the music from the man.
Anyone who thinks Kanye doesn’t make socio/political commentary in his music clearly hasn’t heard the songs “Gorgeous” where he talks about black incarceration as the new form of slavery, “Crack Music” where talks about the war on drugs, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” where he talks about the US funding weapons to civil wars in Africa for profit, “All Falls Down” where he talks about materialism and its detriment to society or the countless times he refers to the violence in Chicago. On “Family Business” he raps “I woke up early with a new state of mind/A creative way to rhyme without using knives and guns/Keep your nose out the sky, keep your heart to God/And keep your face to the rising sun.” The media only focuses on sensationalizing his personal life.
Every dumb stunt he does is just an orchestrated PR move. His albums are so meticulously perfected that there is no way he is actually that careless as a person. Do you really think he really believes Bill Cosby is innocent? Of course not. He just wanted people to be talking about him so the hype for “The Life of Pablo” would build. Congrats, you played yourself.
Regardless of whether it is a PR stunt or not do you think that Kanye is doing any good for society? Kanye’s greatest achievement isn’t his music, it’s his public persona. When people bring up Kanye the first thing you think of is him grabbing the mic from Taylor Swift at the Grammys, or when he went on an insane political rant for an hour at a concert as fans walk out on him as they boo. His achievements aren’t music, they are debaucherous behavior, ill-informed grandstanding, and egomaniacal tantrums.
He doesn’t have any respect for his fans or the excessive amounts of money they pay to see his half-assed concerts where he gets tired halfway through and decides he should just go on an insane rant instead of giving his fans what they paid for.
His lyrics may appear to be deep, but they are contrived and shallow. Yes, he may try to bring up an important point in songs in his early work before he became bastardized by the Hollywood machine. Going from “The College Dropout” to lyrics like “So yeah, at the Grammys I went ultra/Travolta/Yeah that tuxedo might have been a little guido/But with my ego/I can stand there in/a speedo/And be looked at like a f*****g hero”
Kanye lives his life loud. He wants us to witness every moment of it, to fuel his ego, shoving it down everyone’s throats. The worst part is people don’t even mind. He’s like a drunken college student running naked across campus for attention. Not my idea of genius.