People just love to hate Kanye West, yet all he does is come up with more brilliance. People have this preconceived misconception that he is deranged wack job, but I think of Kanye West is more of a genius artist who has abilities as both a rapper and producer. He changed the rap industry because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the typical rapper; he had a middle class upbringing and never found himself in much trouble with the law.
I find West to be a master of branding who figures that his album will sell far better if there is attention surrounding it and the best way he knows how to do it is to make controversy. Such is his genius with his masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in which West commissioned George Condo to create an initial cover that would be incredibly controversial. The provocative cover was banned in stores for its graphic nature and some people criticized him for it, but he sold more albums by generating people’s interest. The album would have been popular anyway because it was such an amazing album that was so well conceptualized that brought beauty, tragedy, and racial standings in America together, yet wove them so brilliantly that some of the songs didn’t even need the brilliant sounds and beats that accompanied them.
People are so quick to write out West and his situation has a lot of similarities with many other entertainers who are expected to stay in their place. West questions the social constructs of American institutions and civilizations, yet he does it in such a harmonious in-your-face way that people feel like they are being threatened. His fluency paints the picture of the unconventional artist who grew up in an house of inspiration. West was born middle-class and though his parents got divorced at a young age, he had a steady influence from both parents, but especially his mother who was a college english professor before becoming his manager when his rap career took off. He was well-versed in the arts and initially went to college in his hometown of Chicago, but didn’t finish because he wanted to professionally pursue a career in the arts. His music has evolved from a fresh-faced and vibrant young rapper to a gospel rapper who is driven by a large ego and nonstop work ethic. There is no doubt Kanye has a huge ego but as he said himself in “Devil in a New Dress,” “Hard to be humble when you stuntin on the jumbotron.”
Another showing of West’s ego is his performance of “All Day” at the Brit Awards in which he pulls no strings about his belief in American justice. West has created a character which has plenty of haters along with people who love him, yet the problem is the people who hate him don’t judge him based off his music. West does crazy things, but how many artists have all their albums sound entirely different and have different themes but are commercial successes? The fact is most mid-tier songs on his albums would be considered great songs if they weren’t shadowed by the three or four songs on every album that are top songs of the year. For example, Yeezus, who many regard as his worst album, was revolutionary for its time as I have never heard sounds like that. Kanye’s take on modern racism was unique and insightful and had incredible songs including “New Slaves,” “Blood on the Leaves” and “Black Skinhead,” yet people judged West off his ego instead of his music. While I wouldn’t pass Yeezus off as his best work, an album like that would propel any new artist to stardom; the fact that Kanye was already established made it so widely hated.
West might be a little crazy, yet people write him off because he threatens commercial ideals of success. He attacks groups directly and doesn’t comfort people with his music but that is part of the reason why I like him. He will not allow himself to be controlled by record labels and uses his producing and rapping abilities to sell albums the companies promote him, though he does quite the job promoting himself. His music for me is all the talking I really pay any attention to and I do admire the risks he’s willing to take in order. His success as a producer, rapper and fashion icon is why people should like him, not write him off because of his mouth.
West is one of the most creative rappers of modern times; we should respect that and his ability to inspire a crowd. He is a once-in-a-generation talent who is willing to say whatever he wants because he doesn’t fear being labeled as crazy. Never underestimate Kanye West because the hate he has been getting has only made him work harder and innovate brilliant forms of music.