Words by Andreas Hale.
Kanye West is a train wreck.
Kanye West is one of those Hollywood Fast & Furious seven-car pile-ups that you simply cannot take your eyes off of even though it’s so blatantly done for shock value. Except that Kanye West thinks he’s smarter than any Fast & Furious film and demands you treat him as such.
That sounds about right.
As if his mind numbing rants, knocking up Kim Kardashian with “Baby ½ Compass” and overall shenanigans didn’t drive that point home before. Well, his series of interviews – specifically his #YouAintGotTheAnswersSway rant on Sway In The Morning and incessant rambling and inability to directly answer a question on The Breakfast Club – pinned the tail on the fashion forward jackass. To lay it down as flat as possible: I’m sick of Kanye West and his egomania.
Before we get started, let me make a few things very clear. I am not a Kanye “hater.” Rather, I just really (really) dislike some aspects of his personality. I think he is an excellent artist and my byline is beside his 5-mic review in The Source for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I was a fan of his artistry from the first time I heard the Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes sampled “This Can’t Be Life” off of The Dynasty: Roc La Familia album. He merged the underground and the mainstream together in a way that was downright admirable at a time when hip hop was stuffed with cream puff tunes from tough guys (oh, hello 50 Cent and Ja Rule). He helped rescue the music from the strait jacket of crap music. For that, he is appreciated.
With that being said, I have always felt that he is overrated. While most credit him for the success of Jay Z’s The Blueprint, I have always sided with Just Blaze’s contributions “U Don’t Know,” “Song Cry” and “Girls, Girls Girls.” But that is a 50/50 argument where I wouldn’t argue with anyone who enjoys Kanye’s productions more than the work of Just Blaze or Bink. Nevertheless, he’s an incredible producer and artist. However, as a lyricist, I have never bought into his perceived greatness. Sorry kids, if I have to round up my 10 greatest emcees, Kanye doesn’t make my lyrical kickball team. That doesn’t take away from the brilliance of The College Dropout or MBDTF (his best albums IMHO), just a note that it was more musical aesthetic then actual lyrical substance that sold those albums. But Yeezus was a vanity project that, to me, was a bunch of noise and chest thumping. I don’t like it, never will like it and you can’t make me.
I say that to say this, the monster that we have created has bought into his own hype and truly believes that he is the smartest guy in any room. Not a music studio but a fashion studio. And, you know, fashion is like the most important thing in the world to Kanye West.
They say money and fame changes people. I believe that money and fame just makes you more of what you already are. The signs were there from his previous interviews and various idiosyncratic episodes (does anyone remember the “walk where we wanna walk” episode of MTV’s Punk’d?), we just didn’t care to pay enough attention. He’s always been called a walking contradiction with a penchant for showing out like a selfish child who believes earth owes him something, but I’d like to refer to him as a walking hyperbole. Now, more than ever before are his statements completely asinine and borderline offensive. Here's a few taken from his New York media blitz…
“The first time rappers rapped with each other on a God level was ‘Swagga Like Us.’ After that, all of the songs are like ‘Swagga Like Us.’ I’m showing us how to work together.”
Apparently, Kanye never heard “Buddy (Native Tongue Decision),” “Scenario,” The Symphony, “Affirmative Action,” “Self Destruction,” or “Flava In Ya Ear (Remix).” And, you know, if Kanye weren’t here rappers would be killing each other. Thanks Mr. West.
“Kim [Kardashian] is Marilyn Monroe”
False. Marilyn Monroe was an actress who won a Golden Globe Award for her performance in “Some Like It Hot.” Your wife played in a Tyler Perry movie and starred in a homemade sex tape with Ray J.
“I'm more like, a Walt Disney or something…”
Word? Walt Disney? Until you create something that is the equivalent of the cartoon mouse that remains relevant for a century, drawing that obscure parallel is unnecessary. Say “I want to be” rather than “I’m like” because you aren’t like anybody but Kanye West.
“In your mind you think Nike is as big as Apple almost…to the hood, because of Jordans and because of me and Don C because we started wearing retro Jordan’s when the soles were falling apart…”
For Kanye to even suggest that he made Jordans popular almost completely forsakes the concept that Michael Jordan even existed. Were Kanye and Don C the first people to rock retro Jordans? You can’t take full credit for repurposing an idea.
When you say that you are a cross between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., what exactly do you mean Mr. West? Suggesting that you are Steve Jobs, Michaelangelo, Howard Hughes, David Stern and Andy Warhol draws absolutely no merit.
Furthermore, his proposal that we are slaves to brands is terribly off base. Slaves would suggest that we are bound to these brands with the inability to escape without facing dire consequences. The more appropriate term would be sheep or conformists or lemmings or followers.
If you haven’t noticed, Kanye West is terrible with analogies and references that pertain to anything he is doing. He’s a great art student who would have failed a college English course.
And therein lies my problem with Kanye West. His lack of humility is astounding, even by his own standards. Honestly, I don’t think he knows what the hell he is talking about half of the time.
We all have that one friend that constantly blurts out things that don’t make much sense and it takes a more intelligent person in the room to say “dude, what the f*ck are you talking about?” They are considered fearless by others because they’ll say anything that is on their mind without rhyme or reason. You know, like “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” because that’s just how they feel at that particular time. But when you ask them to explain exactly how George Bush doesn’t care about Black people, they are at a loss for an explanation and will get pissed off that you would even dare to question their reasoning. This is only because they are being challenged. That’s what gets under their skin. Don’t question him. Just agree. This is also the same person that believes that all of their ideas are phenomenal. Don’t you dare say that any of his momentous concepts are flawed and slam a proverbial door in his face because he will hunt you down and do anything he can to tarnish your name.
If you give that individual a bunch of money, fame and a platform you will now have Kanye West.
What Kanye West fails to understand is that every single venture he has participated in has been a byproduct of his music. Fashion designers don’t owe it to him. Nike doesn’t owe him anything. If they want to work with him, so be it. Maybe, just maybe, these people don’t want to work with you. Could be your personality. Suffice to say that you rub people the wrong way with your condescending approach to life. The way Kanye came at Sway by suggesting his clothing ideas were more grandiose and that Sway didn’t have the answers was his way at thumbing his nose at everyone he feels is beneath him. And I mean everyone is beneath Kanye…except God. But, hell, Yeezus allowed God to have a guest spot on the album.
The most influential rock star of all-time is a narcissistic douche. That’s far from a role model that I’d like our children to look up to and simulate. The primary takeaway that has merit is that you should never bottle up your dreams and marginalize yourself based on how others may pigeonhole you. However, don’t be an asshole about it.
Kanye treats himself as a victim of his own success and expects everyone to give him what he wants because he is Kanye. Ralph Lauren and the various other names that he dropped didn’t build their empires overnight. Kanye shouldn’t expect all doors to open when he says so. He has proven himself in music but still has a ways to go in fashion.
Nevertheless, he acts like he doesn’t need our attention but he’d die without it. Putting a ring on Kim Kardashian’s finger personifies the life of Kanye West. He portrays himself as a pariah but purposefully makes moves to garner attention. However, he is unable to accept any of the criticism that comes along with it.
If life were a message board, Kanye West would be the king of all trolls. He lacks tact and humility and those are things that I, personally, value in someone who wants to change the world. To aspire to be like Malcom X, Andy Warhol, Walt Disney and Steve Jobs is one thing. But to say 'If anything, that's a compliment to them!” is atrocious and I just can’t subscribe to that narrative.
It ain't everyone else that's to blame, it's you.
But I’m just a critic, who the hell am I?