10.13.2011

Will Kanye West Only Find Redemption in Death?

Steve Jobs died last week, and within seconds of the announcement, the well-oiled celebrity death machine was kicked into motion. There were the tweets, the status updates, tributes, news specials, articles. All of it. Within hours, Jobs was forgiven of all sins, and had morphed into a deity, a modern day god. It has become a regular occurrence, a twisted, final rite of some pseudo celebrity religion. And with all the fuss Kanye caused at Occupy Wall Street this week, sorry #OccupyWallStreet, it begs the question: is death the only thing that will bring Kanye West redemption?



At this moment in time, the answer seems to be, unequivocally, yes.

Before, Kanye needing redemption would have been scoffed at. For years he benefited from the simple media truth that you can do whatever the fuck you want, as long as you're brilliant. There were flame-outs, head-shaking rants, insanely ignorant comments. There was an endless stream of immature behaviour. It's pointless to go into; it's all a well-documented part of the Kanye lore. But somewhere along the line, he went too far. You don't have to have any intelligence whatsoever to pinpoint the very evening it all went wrong. September 13th, 2009. The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. He performed an unforgivable act, something the media saw as worse than dog-fighting, or Rihanna beating. A black male had the audacity to bully a tiny, white female. To add to it, he did it on TV, in front of the world, and to one of the most beloved artists in Middle America. Was he drunk as fuck? Certainly. Was he still grieving his mother's death? Yup. Did he do something wrong? Of course he did. But don't tell me race had nothing to do with the reaction. Don't tell me the backlash didn't have something to do with black versus white.

In one night, everything changed for Kanye West. He left the nation. People stared at him like he “was Hitler”. He got booed at Thanksgiving Day Parades. His fashion line (which was actually well-received by some critics and seemed to connect well with the average person) was portrayed as being a disastrous flop by the media. His appearance at Occupy Wall Street was lambasted on Twitter and across news outlets everywhere. Kanye has become a villain to be exploited by the media, to be shot down, taunted and teased. Because it sells. And they love doing it. He can't get a positive spin. The man who once told Jon Brion he wanted to “be all things to all people” has become one of those topics that fiercely divide society, up there with gay marriage and abortion. He has lost that quality that is so essential to pop stars; that someone can connect to a song, without really worrying about the person's character. Love him or hate him. It's now the only way.

It should therefore not be baffling at all that this hatred has actually made him more appealing to the 'internet elite' (the tastemakers). Now he's the hated genius, a social outcast at the top of his game. Naturally this is something bloggers love, because damn it's sooo cool.

MBDTF was painted as a masterpiece (I would agree) by these critics, these same tastemakers. Did it fare well commercially? Hell yes, but it didn't get the radio airplay, or do the numbers one would have expected of Kanye, following Graduation or Late Registration. People can say it wasn't a commercial record, but if you think Kanye didn't expect "Power", "All of the Lights" and "Monster" to do bigger numbers, I think you're a fucking idiot.



The idea that incredible work can redeem any sin (see Michael Vick) didn't really pan out. He dropped one of the most talked about projects of the year, and a near shoe-in for Album of the Year at the Grammy's (unless the notoriously idiotic Grammy voters fuck up). But he still can't win. The “Monster” video, a chilling, but incredible visual experience, was sexist and violent and don't-you-guys-remember-when-he-made-Taylor-Swift-cry?

He made it 2 for 2 this year, when he teamed up to drop “Watch The Throne” with Hov, which has been the crown jewel of musical pop culture this year. It did crazy numbers, especially considered the no press, no (real) radio burn tactic. It came out without leaking which is an unprecedented happening in today's world. Fans across the world heard the project in it's entirety, at the same time, an incredible shared experience people haven't enjoyed in a long time.

But despite it all, Kanye ego is still too big. The lyrics were lampooned for the obscene wealth discussed. Firstly, I have to wonder if these people heard the album? Did they hear “New Day”? Or “Made in America”? Did they skip “Murder to Excellence”? The topics they are speaking on are incredibly important, not to be taken lightly, and not touched upon by mainstream rappers (I like Wayne, but he won't ever get booed for only talking about guns and drugs). Don't tell me socially conscious Kanye is dead. Secondly, a blogger, Jas Fly, doing one of those roundtables for “Friday Hip Hop Report” said it best: “why is it that we want these artists to scream their misery, but we want them to whisper their successes?” These men came from hardship. Why shouldn't they floss? Why shouldn't they be proud of what they've accomplished?



Kanye, and the people of the world have reached a strange crossroads. Is he still adored by many? God yes. Is he still revered? Absolutely. But the fallout of one night still haunts him. He is still a lightning rod for criticism and controversy. And it's sad to me. Every album he's ever put out was a classic (debate me on this if you wish...see you in the comment section). He's one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all-time (of all-time!). He's a modern day poet, at the top of his game in the writing department (see “Hell of a Life”, “No Church in the Wild”). To me, he should be a national treasure.

But he won't find that adulation above ground it seems. Not anymore. He won't climb back to the pinnacle, won't be coddled in interviews, praised in headlines. Not anymore. He will continue to be a villain, doomed to be an outsider.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so. It's kinda heartbreaking, to be honest. The day the world reconciles its differences with Kanye West, will be the day he dies. On that day, it will all be washed away and forgotten. On that day, he will finally get his redemption.

Leave a comment in the comment section below. Any discussion is appreciated. Share it on Twitter & Facebook. Also check out my other work under the "SeriouslyTS" tab at the top.

35 comments:

  1. That's a great article, which I feel should be seen by alot more people.

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  2. Share it around then man. And thanks for the love. 

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  3. Just wanted to say I love the site man.... Keep it up.....

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  4. I would not kick this article out of bed for eating crackers.  Loved the quote you used by Jas Fly (why is it that we want these artists to scream their misery, but we want them to whisper their successes?).  Too true.  Maybe he's not much of an actor (see Entourage, just had to say it haha), but he's a damn musical genius.  Reaction: fresh.

    Keep writing!

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  5. lemme guess the guy who wrote this was white?

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  6. beautiful article *cries*

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  7. Thanks a lot Willie...we see you on Twitter. Please keep viewing and spread the name #KWT

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  8. i hope i get to tell him how much he changed my life before that day....society is so gullible. They take their opinions directly from the media and it sucks. This is a great article. Keep it up.

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