Written by Ryan Holt, ESLLC 2015-2016
Every time I listen to Kanye West, someone has something bad to say about him. It’s either that he doesn’t smile enough, or he’s an asshole. With the release of his long-awaited album, The Life of Pablo, I think its time to defend Kanye and remove his title of ‘Americas biggest asshole’.
There was nothing but respect for the recent college dropout trying to make it big as a rapper/producer. Everyone loved his stylish flows and his renowned sampling skills until his first run-in with bad publicity at the 2009 MTV VMA’s. Kanye was always the one to defend originality and musical talent and that is what ultimately prompted him to do something so rash. Taylor Swift won the best music video award and ‘Ye stole the mic and proceeded to proclaim that Beyoncé was much more deserving. Thus everything Kanye did from that point on was wrong. It only made matters worse that he started his relationship with one of Americas most hated women: Kim Kardashian; a woman most renown for her selfie’s and sex tapes.
While the public and media are set in their ways of finding faults in Kanye’s every move, it’s time to look further than the critics and give Kanye the credit he deserves. Instead of hating and complaining, we should respect and admire Kanye West for what he has done in the hip hop/rap industry.
Many people hate Kanye just to hate, their reasoning? The way he deals with the media. Not a single critic knows the artist on a personal level, their only insight is from social media. While I certainly don’t claim to know Mr. West on a personal level, I can’t imagine the ‘twitter Kanye’ talking to his family the way he addresses media personnel. Kanye’s huge ego and arrogance is just a persona that goes hand in hand with his unique art form, for example he recently wrote “I am the Jordan and Steph Curry of music, meaning I’m the best of 2 generations” to his Twitter followers. While his confidence can be overpowering at times (another of many examples): “I’m a creative genius, there’s no other way to word it”, that’s who he is and frankly it works well with his image. Imagine Watch the Throne, an album with themes of opulence, fame, materialism, power, and the burdens of success, without an artist who proclaims his superiority and greatness as casually as one reads the Sunday paper. It just doesn’t work. His music style can’t work without the persona he radiates to reporters and social media followers.
Obviously this tactic works. As the more critics critique him, the more publicity the artist receives. A popular proverb, although not entirely true (looking at you BP): “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” applies in this artist’s case. As badly as these critics want Kanye to fade into nothingness, the more they express these desires the more fame ‘Ye accumulates. This is all part of his image, and the fact that he has stuck with it since he first hit the top charts is respectable.
Contrary to popular belief, Kanye isn’t a conceited, arrogant, asshole (all the time). As I stated before, Kanye is all about artistry and giving it due respect. While there’s been many a time where ‘Ye has claimed awards belong to him as his work is superior, this isn’t the case all the time. There have been many cases where Kanye has given up his own award to someone who he thought was more deserving. A good example of this would be in the 2008 American Music Awards when Kanye won the ‘Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist’ award and proceeded to give it to Lil Wayne with the reason being he thought his competition was more deserving.
There’s a majority who thinks Kanye is only concerned about himself and his achievements. Against widespread belief, he isn’t as self-absorbed as one would think. In an interview with Angie Martinez, Kanye confesses that he doesn’t mount his awards above the fireplace like the media infers. “I don’t know where my awards are. I don’t have my awards in my house and stuff. I don’t have plaques, I have no awards. My greatest award is what I’m about to do” -Hot-97 Radio. If there is a single thing Kanye respects above all others, it’s artistry. Whether it is himself or another, he respects what artists do and what their art form represents with or without the nice, shiny awards.
As many now know, Kanye and his wife Kim Kardashian recently had a baby. Kanye and Kim blow haters away by telling friends and family to donate to a children’s hospital in Chicago instead of giving baby gifts. This proves that the West family is much different than what the media portrays them to be. Knowing that they can provide the best health care and baby products the market has to offer, they kindly donate all their “would be” baby gifts to a better cause. Hmmm, this doesn’t seem like something ‘that asshole, Kanye’ would do…
While I can admit that Kanye deals with media and reporters worse than just about any other celebrity ever, he is unnecessarily defined as ‘someone who spews ignorant bullshit’ on urban dictionary. We should lay off Kanye because underneath all the unwise outbursts and proclamations, he is a talented, trailblazing artist that is redefining music as we know it.
As much as Kanye is revolutionizing the music industry, he is also doing his part to change the fashion industry and their impact on the environment. Publicly, Mr. West hasn’t done much, but according to i-D, a fashion, music, and culture website, he has been involved with Katharine Hamnett who has made her goal to get the fashion industry talking about more important things than fame and celebrities: the environmental and ethical costs of the industry. She was front row at his new debut of fashion: Yeezy Season 3. I’m hoping to hear more collaborations between the two fashion designers in the coming months.