Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In Defense of Kanye West

(for someone people get so angry at, Kanye West knows EVERYBODY)

This has been a long time in coming, and every day Kanye West does something else funny, infuriating, awesome or all three. Every day I wait there would be something else to add here, so I might as well just write this thing.

For example, just today, this happened. Where Kanye West just decided to perform an impromptu acapella joint on a Delta airplane. My mind would have been blown, and a stewardess would have to come around and clean my head off the seat.

There is no escaping the man. Much to a lot of people's chagrin. Even yesterday, none other than President George W. Bush was mentioning how mad Kanye made him with his "George Bush doesn't care about black people" comment in his exclusive interview with Matt Lauer. As much as I think it was funny and is still funny that George W. Bush fumes at the thought of Kanye West, him getting mad at Kanye illustrates something about West that I should find annoying but I actually find sort of endearing/funny (again.) (Although lets put some perspective on it. No matter what you think, Kanye was the only one on that special to speak out about Bush's handling of the Katrina aftermath. You can clearly tell he was upset and couldn't hold it in anymore. I'm sorry Bush feels bad now (sarcasm) but he deserved it.) He makes people (and I will just say this right now, often times, white people) SO mad. He makes them SO mad and I find it funny. If he were someone else I am quite sure I would find his behavior terribly annoying, probably. So why does  get a pass? Probably because I really do think he is really talented and I happen to like his music. Does it work all the time? No not all. But he's not afraid to experiment and to look nuts. I'll be the first to tell you that, yeah, he is crazy megalomaniacal egomaniac, and he does crazy (and obnoxious) things like interrupting Taylor Swift. Sure it's douchbaggy, but I really don't think warrants this clutching of pearls that usually happens when he does something annoying. So, to me, it ends up being more funny than him. He is a nut. But he happens to be a talented nut. I wrote about this before, and I think what I said still applies, to whit: "Kanye West gets boatloads of shit for his ridiculous behavior-most of it probably deserved. But this obscures the fact that in both beats and rhymes department, he not only is really good at what he does, he really does take a lot of risks with his music despite the fact that he manages his image so much. Like any risk (see Mos Def), they either work or they don't. Another fact that gets obscured is how Kanye's output in the 00's became the gold standard for hip hop (open for debate). Also, when he started, he was about as humble as a superstar producer and soon-to-be superstar MC could be. He used the sped-up soul samples that he made famous with his beats with Jay-Z. And while not the wordsmith that Jay-Z is, he was inventive, poppy, likeably eccentric, and retro and futurist at the same time."

I mean, even President Obama called him a jackass. He makes everyone so angry, it kills me.

I guess the other thing is, why does all this still surprise anyone? I said this a few years ago when all these people, once again, were SO mad at him at Bonnaroo because he threw a hissy fit and didn't start his set until like 4 in the morning. If I was there and I was amped on seeing Kanye, sure I would have been annoyed but I would have also adopted the attitude of what Red Sox nation used to say about Manny Ramirez: it really is just Kanye being Kanye. Here's what gets lost in all this though, and I will qualify this by saying that I am sure that Kanye probably could have handled this in a better manner, yes, he probably could have. But here is why he is annoyed, and this is taking his massive ego into consideration, I kind of get why he was annoyed. And now reading this it seems like, okay, he asked for a later slot (which I also get because he's is better than Pearl Jam, not fact just opinion) he needed it later for his lightshow. But it was Pearl Jam that went late and then it took a while for him to set up for his show. And thats why people were so mad!? I misunderstood this situation and it is stupider than I thought. Sure I would have been annoyed, and maybe he could have toned down his stage show, but him being asked to play Bonnaroo during this tour, they knew that he was going to bring his whole stage and do his whole spiel, and thats what they wanted. People might have been mad at Kanye but it sounded like they could have saved some vitriol for the organizers. Or how about Pearl Jam for going over? It sounds like Kanye being whiney about them going over was really only about a third of the problem but takes the brunt of the criticism. Just saying, I bet if, say Pearl Jam did the same thing they would be cut much more slack. Also, shut up Robert Randolph.

By the way, this was his show at the time, during the Glow In The Dark tour. I am not even sure if this really all that illustrative of what the show was really like:

I saw the Glow In The Dark tour (this video was actually from the show I was at) and in a weird way it made me like Kanye more. It showed pretty much how nuts he was and I loved him for it. It was truly weird and audacious. I mean, he had this whole narrative going on that he would slot his songs into, where he is traveling across the universe in a spaceship with only a sentient robot as a companion. Its truly weird, and it was amazing to see live. So I felt a little bit of responsibility after having seen that then urging people to go see him at Bonnaroo and was disappointed that people were so upset with him. But I shouldn't have been surprised he seems to be always pissing off someone, but I feel like, for the most part the anger thats reserved for him is usually out of proportion to what he actually did. And I feel like, even what I read about Bonnaroo it was the same thing, with a great many people just waiting to hate on him.

I guess, though, that Kanye doesn't need me to defend him, dude probably sleeps on top of a pile of money each night. Want to know what prompted me even thinking about this? Well, even better than an acapella jam from him was this story about the tail end of the CMJ fest in New York at like 2 in the morning at the Brooklyn Bowl. He just comes out to this packed place and does a couple songs. Honestly, that would have been enough, but then The GZA comes out and does "Liquid Swords" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya". Yeah my head would have exploded. It looks so great, one of those times for me personally I wish I had stumbled onto this show and been able to experience this live. But it also made me think: I like Kanye, I think it's funny when people get SO angry at him, and I honestly am excited to hear his new album. I guess this is all a long winded way of saying that.

Lastly, have you ever seen this, from, obviously the time of Katrina. The guys that made it area actually from New Orleans and its really good:

(Also, his Twitter feed is comedy gold, too)


  1. Yeah, man. People were pissed at Kanye for coming on so late. I wasn't happy myself but I wouldn't describe my feelings as being overly upset. I probably waited about 45 minutes or so for him before I called it quits, and then got caught up in the hoopla the next day since everyone was complaining about him coming on so late. I also think it was just the fashionable thing to do as A) groups never go on that late at Bonnaroo. B) groups never go on hours after their scheduled times C)it was a crowd of hippies who probably weren't the biggest fans of Kanye to begin with D) it might make you laugh, but the guy is still a dick and people love to hate on dicks.

    The funny thing was that Kanye went to such lengths to move his set to the late night because of his massive laser show, but when he finally came on, it wasn't long before the sun came out.

    And I think one of the reasons people hate him so much, besides the fact that he's a raging egomaniac, is the fact that he's black. I am in the camp that anytime you have someone who is widely disliked for whatever reason, and that person happens to be black, well then add a little bit more onto that hatred, because hey, that's just the way things work.

    As for his music, well, hip-hop isn't my forte so I'll have to take your word for it that he's a genius.

    And I have to go back to the South Park episode that made fun of him. And say what you want about Stone and Parker, they really do great parodies.



  2. Kevin, that was my favorite post of yours thus far. I totally agree with everything about Kanye. People have to quit being so self-righteous about 'Ye. He's an entertainer. What I also love about him is that he is so raw and honest. He has no filter. He's so real that it's almost a fault. Yeah, he's arrogant. But he was THE gold standard for 2000s rap. Eminem faded in a major way. Jay-Z was sucking as he always did. Good looking out for this.


  3. Thanks, P$.

    Matt, the whole hippie thing is big component. There is this festival every year around these parts in Connecticut, "The Gathering Of The Vibes" (ugh.)
    Anyway, I have some friends that like to go, so this is why I know about this. Its supposed to honor Jerry Garcia, either his birth or death, I don't care, anyway they have been trying to expand and having bigger acts play. Well this past year Damian Marley and Nas were going to play and you should have seen the uproar just having Nas on the bill caused. Unbelievable.