The Kanye Conundrum

November 3, 2014 4:39 pm

Kanye West, modern music’s ultimate polariser of opinion. Is he driven by genius or is he tainted by arrogance? Is he a supreme forward thinker or is he falling off? Is he Hip Hop’s premier torch bearer or is he leading us towards our genre’s damnation? Is he the man that moaned about the lack of traction for his clothing line or the man that cried in front of the world for his mother? With all those juxtapositions in mind, isn’t he no more complex than any other modern man? An amplification of the subtleties and flamboyances of alpha males the world over?

kanye west

Let’s be real here, very few people on this culturally corrupt planet of ours are universally liked. There are aspects in all of us that we keep well hidden but in the case of a global superstar, that mission is virtually doomed to failure. Someone in such a position has two choices; To live like a hermit and have virtually no real quality of life whatsoever, or to attempt to replicate the finer aspects of any modern well heeled human being and accept the consequences. It would be easy to dismiss Kanye’s outbursts as nothing more than petulance, and in some cases that is absolutely right. But as far as we the public are concerned these superstars are, for the most part, damned if they do and damned if they don’t (just ask Andy Murray).

The media does love an underdog -which is why Kanye was initially feted as Hip Hop’s next hero and saviour- but it hates an overachiever. And if on top of the overachievement you have a sizeable ego to match then all bets are off. The fact that Kanye doesn’t help himself at times is something we are all guilty of but does that make him an idiot or a typical human being? There are obvious examples of superstars that either expertly court publicity (David Beckham) or expertly shun it when it suits them (Jay Z). This is a skill that Kanye is either yet to learn or consciously (or even subconsciously) chooses to ignore. If it is the latter then should we really be on his case so much?

But after all of the above the most divisive aspect of the Kanye conundrum is his music with most of us listeners falling into two distinct camps; the pre 808s (and Heartbreaks) or post 808s. That album was thee catalyst for all the vitriol that came after due to the dramatic change of artistic direction. From creating what I consider to be the masterpiece that is Late Registration, the changes, although minimal were evident on Graduation….. And the came the bombshell. A few of us level headed types can see that the pluses in both eras do exist but if you regularly read any online comments attached to a Kanye story or gossip piece, you would never know that we existed. And since ‘Kimye’ entered the public consciousness things in that regard have only gotten much much worse (and it really didn’t help when you named your child North…. Really? Ye!?!).

Is that last statement I made not part of the problem? We the public are at the point where we cannot help but make comments about the mans life while we are praising or denigrating his music. But isn’t that his own fault for the repeated flare-ups? Maybe, but surely the paparazzi intrusion and pictures aren’t his fault are they? If he doesn’t want the publicity then perhaps he shouldn’t be courting it should he? But why shouldn’t he be allowed to take advantage of his status? He has earned the right to do just that hasn’t he? But that brings this whole paragraph full circle and the process begins again. A conceptualised version of the eternal question; What came first, the chicken (media) or the egg (talent)?

Gossip mongering and tittle tattle will always be part of becoming a superstar but there is a reason that the truly talented don’t have to countenance an appearance on Celebrity Big Brother for any reason other than to have a laugh. And even then the celebratory test of time will always be an easy exam for those talented enough to leave a worthwhile legacy. Destruction of camera equipment and attacks on the paparazzi cannot detract from the fact that Kanye West will most certainly, leave a worthwhile legacy.

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