I first became a fan of Kanye after I heard he smashed a camera from a reporter who was annoying him. Being so far removed from the situation, this fit of rage seemed silly and maniacal. To me, he was crazy in all the right ways, and his brand of crazy made him the perfect entertainer.
Egotistical, erratic, energetic; he knew how to get people going. He announces himself as the “number one rock star” and outrage! He interrupts Taylor Swift at the Grammy’s and outrage! People’s reaction to Kanye was as entertaining as his own antics.
As much as I loved him as an entertainer, what changed my attitude toward him from amused to genuine enthusiasm was finally listening to his music. From “College Dropout,” to “808s,” to “Yeezus,” his music is consistent only in its awesomeness. Suddenly, I realized that his egotism was rooted in real and enormous musical talent. I even end up liking his dope clothing line.
Not until the last year or so, however, have I been actively following him, and the hype surrounding “The Life of Pablo” album release has been real. Until almost the day of its release, he had been teasing songs on Soundcloud, releasing potential album track lists, and continually revamping his album title. In classic Kanye fashion, he changed the name of his album to “The Life of Pablo” (“TLOP”) seemingly last minute, presumably alluding to similarities between himself and Pablo Picasso.
Unfortunately, not all “TLOP” drama was induced by excitement. Kanye upset many fans via his feud with Taylor Swift by claiming in his new song, “Famous,” that he thinks Swift might still have sex with him because he made her famous.
This comes as the latest in a culture of misogyny that often surrounds hip-hop and is an aspect of the genre I find troublesome. It is not just the lyrics about Swift in the song “Famous” that rub me the wrong way.
Throughout the song and the album, he portrays many of the women in his life (past girlfriends and acquaintances, as well as his own wife, Kim Kardashian) as after him only for his success and obsessed with his money, e.g. “I bet me and Ray J would be friends, If we ain’t love the same bitch, Yeah, he might have hit it first, Only problem is I’m rich.” His lyrics perpetuate problematic stereotypes about women that interfere with my enjoyment of his music.
Shortly after the T-Swift debacle, he updated his twitter feed with the incredibly well thought out, grammatically and syntactically proficient “BILL COSBY INNOCENT!!!!” At this point it was clear to me that Kanye views twitter as a stream-of-consciousness notepad. More importantly, for him to advocate for Bill Cosby’s innocence in light of all the evidence against him was ignorant and misogynistic.
Two weeks ago, I was ready to buy his album the second it came out. After these incidents, I was considerably less enthusiastic. To top it off, not only has he released his album exclusively on Tidal (not even releasing physical copies), but he of all people dares to complain of $53 million debt!
Claiming that investors should put their money into Kanye’s ideas instead of supporting kids in the “country” of Africa. After all his success, there is no reason he should be in debt so he needs to quit his whiny baby act and be fiscally responsible like the rest of us. Also he needs to learn basic geography. He’s gone from amusingly insane to foaming at the mouth.
Then again, maybe he’s always been like this and now that I’m paying more attention, I’m becoming one of the people I once mocked. His recent antics, however, have significantly decreased the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of “TLOP”, even though, musically, it is again another hit out of the park.