I don’t know if you’re familiar with this guy Kanye West. Some people consider him a bit of a jackass. He often gets himself in to all sorts of trouble, constantly in and out of hot water.
What has Kanye done to deserve all this hate? He’s a nice guy.
His music is incredible, his raps are insightful and the fashion is fashionable? I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding; he’s probably not that bad.
For all we know he could be the most important voice of our generation. Here’s why.
Firstly, if you haven’t sat down and listened to an album by Kanye West, you could try that, if only to validate any opinions you have of him. I’ve listened to his albums and they’re unequivocally awesome!
Sure, music is subjective. Some people will, for whatever reason, find Kanye’s music unappealing to them, while others are correct because Kanye’s the best and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. Seriously, out of the seven solo albums Kanye has recorded, four of them are perfect and three of them are near-perfect.
If only there was a way you could listen to Kanye’s music minus his rapping and personality. Well you can, and chances are you have. See, Kanye has spent half of his music career working behind the scenes producing for other projects. His name is strewn all over the album credits of artists such as Common, Lil Wayne, John Legend and many other people who I am told are a big deal.
Just take a look at the production he did on the rapper Common’s more successful albums Be and Finding Forever. Be was even nominated for the Grammy for best rap album in 2006. Unfortunately it was narrowly beaten by Late Registration an album by… Kanye West? Oh…
Next, let’s have a look at Kanye’s raps (or bars to those of you as hip as me).
Now I’m not saying I think Kanye is the greatest rapper, because Killer Mike is the greatest rapper. Anyway, strong to definite chance that Kanye doesn’t even write most of his rhymes. Long time friend and collaborator, Rhymefest, has inferred that Kanye employs the help of ghostwriters to help polish his songs. Rhymefest suggests that while he is credited for several songs spanning from Jesus Walks to New Slaves, “there are a lot of songs [his] name isn’t even on.” So how can a rapper that doesn’t even write his own raps be the most important artist of our generation?
Well this might sound a little counter intuitive but Kanye has the most unique voice in music in at least the last ten years. You see, in 2004 when Ye released his first album, The College Dropout, the hip hop landscape sat stagnant between the Gangsta archetype perpetuated by 50 Cent and the incomprehensible Crunk of Lil Jon. The idea of a popular rapper talking about religion, family and pink polos was new. However, in the same way a director makes a movie, Kanye made one of the most influential albums of all time setting a blueprint for others to follow. In fact many of his contemporaries such as Drake, Childish Gambino, and Lorde cite Kanye as a direct influence.
This initial success shaped Kanye into the stubborn arsehole he is today, although he always was a bit of an arsehole. Tell him he can’t rap and he releases Late Registration. Say he can’t design shoes for Nike and he signs a deal with Adidas. Tell him he can’t make a fashion line and he does something with fashion probably (sorry, I don’t care). Some have even postulated that Kanye needs an enemy. I’d argue that Kanye needs adversity. Like many rappers his story is centred on the starting from nothing to creating their own success and like these rappers once they’ve found success there’s nothing left to do.
Kanye is at his best when people try to box him in. However, he’s too aware of this. Any controversy around him feels contrived like he’s acting provocative for the sake of being provocative. After the release of his magnum opus Dark Fantasy, it looked like Kanye had finally silenced all his critics. Then he released two more albums that aimed to silence critics. Yet they only fanned the flames of the two opposing views of Kanye.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “an artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.” This is certainly true of Kanye. He manages to toe the line between exceptionally creative while at the same time ridiculously stupid.
I just don’t know how long he can remain fully functional.