Saturday, December 20, 2008
Bringing His A-Game?
I have a love-hate relationship with Kanye West. He's one of the most acclaimed artists of this decade and ranks among the few in the industry who have made the transition from producer to singer successfully. I love Kanye as a performer, however most times I find him a lot unbearable. The first time I heard about Kanye West was shortly after he released his first single "Through the Wire." Then began a journey with this artist Kanye West. He was much hyped but he didn't translate the fervor in his music when he gave interviews. He seemed distant and perturbed. I really wasn't sold after the release of "College Dropout" so I didn't purchase the album. Besides, from the start of his career Mr. West seemed to be marred in a series of controversy. There was the Rolling Stone cover that was a play on his controversial song "Jesus Walk" that caused quite a stir and his misbehavior at concerts. Hence, from the start I got the impression of a border line sociopath who had some monsters underneath his bed.
Besides his tantrums, there was a lot to observe about Kanye. He had his own unique sense of style or you may call it non-style. Kanye's style did not necessarily pop. It was not that spectacular, but it was just Kanye. I remember trying to help my brother decide on a costume for a party and I suggested he go as Kanye. Back then, going as Kanye meant wearing a polo shirt and glasses that screamed "weirdo." The look did not really have a name. It was not laid back swagger or suave but when you saw it, you knew it. It didn't look as though he was trying. It looked effortless but it was painfully so. There are those artists who just have style. But in Kanye's case it was clear that it had taken some blood and tears to craft the persona that he wanted to convince people represented the guy spitting all these rhymes. He didn't look comfortable in his clothes or even his own skin.
That was the early Kanye. Over time though he evolved; regressively evolved if I must add. We got introduced to the spoiled kid who wanted everything and wouldn't take "no" for an answer. There was this brat who threw a fit every time his work was not recognized the way he wanted it to be. There's a lesson in this for most artists. That you think a work is your best doesn't mean the critics or your fan base needs to share your sentiment. Pushing an audience to agree with your work steals from true artistry. Let the work speak for itself. I've heard some artists talk about how a particular song on their album is their favorite. Then I listen to the song and I don't feel a thing. Then there are those songs I really do like. Kanye failed to understand this concept. His audience had to like him, had to celebrate every song even though they honestly considered it "crap." Kanye didn't want any dissidents. I couldn't stand his arrogance and his ego. In the black community image is everything and to be honest Kanye's attitude wasn't a good look. He was always running off at the mouth and talking sideways. He deserved everything. He deserved to have every accolade because in his words no award show was authentic or valid if Kanye did not receive an award. Added to his arrogance was all the MySpace drama with his soror sister girlfriend and their ensuing ugly break-up.
Kanye only started to grow on me after the release of Graduation. I heard "Can't tell me Nothing," and became a believer. Then came "Stronger," and I was sold. I bought the album and played it over and over. My favorites on the album though are "Champion" and "Everything I Am." When tickets for the "Glow in the Dark" tour went on sale my siblings and I bought them. We payed a good bit for them but they were worth every dime. Although the concert showed Kanye at his best, it was a dark, dark concert. The tour coincided with his mother's passing and he could not pull himself from the abyss he had fallen in since she died. Kanye performed solo for almost an hour and then was joined on stage by Lupe Fiasco for the last song. Honestly, I expected Kanye to do something sinister after his mother passed. That he didn't was and still remains shocking. I always said back then that there were only two people in Kanye's world; Kanye and Donda. I didn't think he loved any one outside of himself and Mother Dearest. I really felt so much for him and I always wish she hadn't died the way she did. I don't know if Kanye is ever going to fully recover from his mother's passing except if he finds God. However, I rarely hear Kanye talk about God or about the "Universe" like some other people I know.
Now Kanye seems to be moving on. At least he's talking and that might be a good sign. He's always talked so no big surprise there but now he's talking about his Mother. There's something else he's talking about, his break up with his fiance, not the soror sister but Alexis Phifer. I can't imagine what must have happened in their relationship but his latest album "808s and Heartbreak" speaks volumes. I feel sorry for Kanye West a lot of the time. It's sad because Kanye doesn't seem like the kind who likes to be pitied. But you've got to feel bad for a guy who seems like he's had some bad breaks. He has admitted that he's suicidal, has a porn addiction, and God knows what else.
I hear now that Kanye is trying to intern for Louis Vuitton. It's ironic because Marc Jacobs is also a major designer for the label. It's kind of interesting how Louis Vuitton seems to attract these troubled men. It's likely that both men may never work together but the irony of it all is hard to gloss over. Every time I read an article about Marc Jacobs I cringe at how disturbed he is. There's always all this talk about his struggle with addiction and his loss of zest for life. Kanye comes across as a young Marc. When March Jacobs pens "A Letter to his Younger Self," he'll be speaking to Kanye. It can be argued that both men have different backgrounds, yet they're so alike. 2009 will be an interesting year for Kanye West. At least if not for anything, he'll finally evolve into his stylish self. I am already starting to see signs based on the picture above. When I saw the picture I noticed the oversized bow-tie first and knew we were on to something. Finally, Kanye may be coming into his own.