For & Against

For and Against: Kanye West

25 February 2016

For:

It’s clear why people hate Kanye. He may be the most divisive contemporary figure, a point that Kanye outright admits, stating “I’m too black, I’m too vocal, I’m too flagrant”.

You might hate him for his fame and fortune. There is a good chance you hate him for his wife, the love of his life. It might be his personality, though who among us can claim to actually know him?

What I do know is that you will struggle to find a more passionate and outspoken artist. No one else had the balls to call out Bush on Katrina. No one else is denouncing fashion and clothing companies for their deceit and disrespect. My favourite moment was when he let the paparazzi know just how pathetic they are and wouldn’t let the smug Jimmy Kimmel off the hook. The good comes with the bad and I would not change a thing.

The most referenced Kanye moment would be his show­stealing Taylor Swift confrontation at the Video Music Awards (VMAs) in 2009. Few remember that he once was similarly overlooked at the American Music Awards in 2004, Kanye missing the honours for Best New Artist for The College Dropout at the hands of another country artist (Gretchen Wilson – who?). As uncomfortable as his VMA antics were, it was undeniably an empathetic act for a close friend and a once in a lifetime performer. Who else would do the same?

He was also one hundred per cent right in his assessment; ‘Single Ladies’ and all its artistic components still reverberate in our minds to this very day and I’d wager you can’t remember the song or video that won Taylor Swift the infamous award.

The worst thing Kanye has done is express himself and try and be the best. Album after album, Kanye pushes himself and his contemporaries to new heights.

Don’t believe me? Here is your taste tester: ‘Hey Mama’ live at the Grammys and his full interview on Sway in the Morning. Actually pay attention and follow along.

If you don’t want to listen or be witness that is your choice. You can hate him if you want. I’ll wait here for when you are ready to grow up and appreciate what this man does for us. To deny his talent and heart is to deny truth itself. With the frequency of Kanye­bashing, let’s pause for perspective. Fifty years ago Kanye would have been shot in the street. If it wasn’t the Klan, it would have been the government. If it wasn’t either of them it would have been one of the brothers cutting him down out of jealously.

In the face of hostility, Kanye still gives us the gift we probably don’t deserve, the expressions of an artist still trying to climb to that next great peak. If you don’t believe in Yeezus, remember what the

Romans thought about Jesus.

 

Against:

There is so much wrong with Kanye West, I’m not even sure where to start. His permanent pout, his history of throwing hissy fits over losing awards or his announcement of his intention to run for the US presidency in 2020? In fact, Kanye’s sole virtue may be the amount of fodder he provides the world with to make fun of him.

For years I assumed the Kanye fandom was a big inside joke or statement of irony that I wasn’t quite in on. This is a guy who labels himself a lyrical genius and the voice of a generation, and so pretty much sets himself up as a massive wanker from the start. With song titles like

‘Drunk and Hot Girls’ and ‘I Am A God’, who could argue with this clearly deep and modest artiste?

Poor Kanye doesn’t have it easy though and he shared his inner struggle in a 2009 interview, stating, “I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.” If you can hear someone say that about themselves and not have your douche­-o-meter start beeping, then you need to get it checked.

Kanye West is someone who charged $120 for a plain white t­shirt in his latest clothing line, setting him up not only as an overrated musician but also as a face of materialistic capitalist consumerism. He’s a guy who interrupted T­Swizzle’s acceptance of her 2009 Video Music Award and later labelled it a selfless act in the name of maintaining artistic integrity, despite being a self­declared “proud non­reader of books”.

While the declaration of his intention to run for the US presidency in the 2020 elections have provided wonderful material for internet

humour and ‘Yes we Kanye’ jokes, stop and ponder for a moment the idea of his success. Doesn’t Kanye just come across as someone to whom the idea of an authoritarian dictatorship would appeal, with portrait photos of his face hung Mao­like in every classroom and lounge room in the US?

Pumping out the occasional club banger does not, in my opinion, erase these cold hard arrows which point to him being an enormous tosser. However, despite all these reasons to hate on Kanye, it seems unlikely he’ll be heeding the haters any time soon. As he himself said,

“When you’re the absolute best, you get hated on the most”.


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