If there is one thing that rap fans will agree, it is that Kanye West is his own worst enemy. Give the man some air time or tweet time, and you’ll have a pipeline of outrageous and controversial comments to keep you amused, give you inspiration to write your next rap song, or approach a school/college project more creatively. Because that’s who Yeezy is : a maverick who is not content letting his work do the talking for him. Because that’s not what rap music or even what modern-day entertainment – which thrives on controversy, drama and opposition is all about. In a world where any publicity is good publicity, Yeezy has been making all the right moves, whether intentionally or unintentionally. However, a lot of his antics over the last sort of months, have become a bit too much for his fans and himself.
J.Cole criticism and hospitalization
This November, West suffered a mental breakdown and after a brief stint in rehab was back on his feet. He is rumored to be working on new material in a makeshift studio at his Bel Air home. For a man who has ignited unnecessary feuds with perfectly reasonable celebs – Taylor Swift and Jimmy Kimmel – designated himself ‘god’s vessel’ and attacked Beyoncé for playing politics at the 2016 VMA Awards, he is as unpredictable and annoying as free spirited artists come.
A compilation of all of Yeezy’s ‘Oh, my God, he didn’t say that!’ statements would make him pretty insufferable in any sane, patient human being’s mind. But worse, they risk clouding their judgment about and appetite for his music. Which would be a shame, because Yeezy is a master in his line of work. This regret was recently voiced by J. Cole, who made it clear that the artist who had created the brilliant Jesus Walks and the celebrity who clubbed shocking metaphors with inconsistent declarations (“Gonna start a new movement, being led by the drums”) in Yeezus, an otherwise powerful and highly listenable experimental album, were two different men.
And he wasn’t exactly subliminal :
“Ego in charge of every move, he’s a star/ And we can’t look away due to the days when he caught our hearts. He’s falling apart but we deny it/ Just to find the half-assed shit he drop, we always buy it”
“There was a time when this nigga was my hero maybe / That’s why his fall from grace is hard to take, cause I believed him when he said his shit was purer and he / The type of nigga swear he real but all around is fake.”
“Wonder if it’s my fault for idolizing niggas’ words that they be rappin / But come to find out these niggas, they don’t even write they own shit”
Though the last line could be referencing Drake, who has been called out for alleged ghostwriting by Kendrick Lamar in King Kunta, J.Cole laid bare his opinion, which cannot be faulted, but at the same time, must not encourage us to write-off West despite his unstable behavior. Sure, the ‘prophecy of Yeezus’ being the purest is flawed; that Yeezus must be respected and revered for his work isn’t.
The mystique of Kanye West
Yeezy’s talent and work is best understood in the form of an exposition. His lyrics – filled with brutal honesty and an unbelievable amount of observation – have resonated with rap fans and anyone with a healthy appreciation for the language. His first three hip-hop albums were influenced by soul music, and he has ventured into conceptual and experimental territory like no other fellow hip-hop artist can lay claim to. He has legitimate production skills, and his historic deal with Adidas – resulting in the runaway hit Yeezy sneakers – have supported his design credentials. Rolling Stone magazine named 808S & Heartbreak one among the ’40 Most Groundbreaking Albums of All Time’; it has served as the go-to template for rising hip-hop and rap artists, notably Drake. And Beyoncé’s husband has called him a genius.
According to Psychology Today, creative people can be proud and humble at the same time; at once, rebellious and conservative; extremely sensitive, and isolated and misunderstood. This is not a defense of all the outrageous things that have originated from West’s mouth. But it does offer us a path into West’s mind – which is blessed (in a good and bad way) – and which cannot afford to be silenced – for the sake of music fans, design fans, and those among us who know deep inside that we will miss Yeezy and that the hip-hop world will feel a void. A world without Kanye West will be less interesting, not from an absence of the controversies that follow him, but for the groundbreaking music and art that emanates from his soul and offers respite from the manufactured music of our times.