Man, this dude is really good. TLOP came out a while ago, right? It’s really good, too. The public didn’t always like him, but I think everyone’s really coming around now. In fact, it’s actually become kinda mainstream… but that’s 500 words for another time.
For art, it’s hard to keep the artist themselves out of your unconsciousness. People want to be “objective,” when they’re looking at pieces of art – they’re aiming to judge it for some “objective merit, detached from the author,” while all they have is subjectivity. You can’t review something objectively. It’s not going to happen. By the definition, it’s not going to happen. And you’re never going to be able to fully separate the artist from the artwork.
J.K. Rowling – she didn’t want the reader to know that they were reading a woman’s writing. She wanted something ambiguous. She wanted something that would appeal to a wide demographic. She built up an illusion for an author – “J.K. Rowling.” The entity. The gender less, ethereal being, whose name is scrawled at the front cover of each book.
Kanye has done something akin to that idea. He’s made a character – a public personage that he goes by to promote his work. He’s built up his own illusion (how far it is from reality is debatable), and he’s able to further enhance his work due to inserting his own self as a part of the work. Of course, with rap, and with music, it is inevitable to have your audience see your face – but they don’t always see everything.
The audience always has to make stuff up on their own. They have to assume. They have to pretend. They have to extract lyrics, and paint their own pictures of the personalities of the artists. They have to latch on to something – tie the music to something tangible, something real. Something that they can comprehend, beyond the enigma of “rich celebrity.”
If you go on any hip hop discussion forum, you’ll see a unanimous agreement on one thing about Kanye – he changed the direction that hip hop went. From “The College Dropout” to his second album, “Late Registration,” Kanye had already cemented himself within the hip hop industry as somebody who could stand on his own not only as a producer, but a rapper as well. He dealt with subject matter that not many other rappers had gone into – he made “soul beats.” I wouldn’t do it justice with my words, but I can pick out two big ones: love and ambition.
Kanye, in essence, was the underdog. He dropped out of college, didn’t have a job, and then he started making albums. And then he started making more. And he developed the genre of hip hop towards something different each time. 808s and Heartbreak introduced autotune as something new; something that could further enhance the emotional impact of a song. Yeezus pushed the abrasive, industrial sound further, expanding off of Death Grip’s previous works and adding his own spin to the music.
Kanye isn’t always viewed as a positive figure. He goes on rants, he goes on tangents, and a lot of the time, he doesn’t get his point across. He says what’s on his mind. He’s arrogant. He’s aggressive.
But he’s self-aware. He knows how he comes off. He makes decent points in his arguments, even though he doesn’t express himself well. At heart, every fan of Kanye can relate to his faults, and we all hope that some day, we can all get our own rise to fame. We all like hip hop. We like to feel good about ourselves.
Kanye pushes a lot of messages, but one that we can all agree on is that life is about feeling good. And Kanye’s music makes me feel good.