So, American rapper Kanye West released his latest album a few of weeks ago, entitled “Yeezus”. Now, first things first, I’m aware that West is not everyone’s cup of tea and releasing an album with such a title, with songs named “I Am A God” on it, isn’t going to endear him any further to his doubters, but hear me out.
In my opinion, West isn’t just the best rapper out there right now, he is quite possibly the best musician in the business. His personality will always make that stick in the throat of people, but in the age of the saturated artist, his power crazy ego shouldn’t be vilified quite so much. For a start, Will Smith never released songs about putting his fist in a girl “like a civil rights sign”, so quite why anyone would expect Smith’s happy, smiley kid-rap persona to go with the music of Kanye is beyond me.
Most rap artists spend 99% of their waking lives talking about how great they are, but quite often they are either deluded or don’t really believe it. I get the feeling with West that not only is he not totally deluded as to how good he is, but he is fully aware of how far ahead of the game he really is right now.
When you are in that position, you have more than enough of a right to carry yourself with such an air of invincibility. It happens across the board of industries, from music to sport. Cristiano Ronaldo is hated by Joe Public for exactly the same thing, but then Joe Public is sat on his sofa watching fucking “Miranda” rather than breaking hat-trick records in La Liga.
It happens very rarely in music that someone can attest to have the right to carry themselves in that manner. Many delude themselves that they can, then fade away. Several albums in, West isn’t going anywhere, especially when not one of them has been weak, in my opinion. We will get to his music soon, but genuinely, in an age when people are so reluctant to actually part with cash for albums for fear of being let down, West is as close to brand confidence as you can get- he is the Apple of his genre.
One of the strangest criticisms of West’s character was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005. During the TV appeal that followed it, West gloriously shouted “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” as Mike Myers stammered his way through reading an auto-cue. Let’s put this in perspective, the vast majority of people in New Orleans are indeed black and the reaction of the government was so poor, dead people were being left in the street for collection like bin bags. Someone should have said fucking SOMETHING and to me he’s a hero for doing it.
So, to his music. I played his new album to my fiancee, who is also a huge fan. There is a part that, well, its just a person screaming and hyperventilating, but in it’s context it’s fucking AMAZING. Anyway, she turned to me and said- “Is it all like this?”. His new album is the divisive kind, which people will say you only like to look cool, but the fact that one of the biggest stars in the world is making an album in such a vein should be embraced.
Jay-Z and Kanye don’t get on so well these days and that’s because of one thing- West makes him sound like a dinosaur and Jay-Z knows it, and his ego sure doesn’t swallow it well. Jay-Z’s album, to me, is just re-treading ground but you can also almost feel him over-stretching to keep up with his old protege on it.
Listen to “New Slaves”, and it’s criticism of the bling culture that Hip-Hop has infected into society. There is no hint of homophobia in his music, unlike most rappers. In fact, West often credits his gay uncle as a huge influence on his style.
Even the misogyny of his music in tinged with the regret that most men have felt that accompanies it. The one night stands with the bad girls he just can’t quit, hiding buying condoms at a petrol station so she won’t know his true intentions and red eyes shielded behind shades from loved ones. Bitches and guns this isn’t.
There is no finer example of modern music than “Runaway” from his album, “My Dark Twisted Fantasy”. The simple piano giving way to a sprawling, multi-layered masterpiece as the rapper tells a girl to leave him as he will just fuck around.
In his early days, West played Abbey Road with a string section and he didn’t sound out of place in such surroundings. Someone like Chris Brown may, I’m just saying……that Brown’s music is fucking shit……really shit.
West is a musical magpie, on his huge hit “N****s In Paris” with Jay-Z, you can hear him lifting the qualities that had made the Gorillaz album the year or so before such a success.
There is merit in every of his albums and when musicians are just so crushingly disappointing come release day, he is head and shoulders above the rest. Gold Digger, Diamonds From Sierra Leone, Heartless, Black Skinhead, the list goes on if you need evidence to back him up.
Go out and buy one if you don’t have one. Ignore the ego, the tabloids and just listen to a genuine talent, hidden behind an ego just as big.
Maybe not the new one though, I love it, but for all the reasons you won’t.
Paul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff