The Kanye Conundrum

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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 Hops premier torch bearer or is he leading us towards our genres 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?

Let’s be real here, very few people on this culturally corrupt planet of ours are universally liked. There are darker parts of ourselves 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 damed 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 fool or an 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 this much?

The most divisive aspect of the Kanye conundrum though, is his music with the release of 808s & Heartbreaks being the seed from which the vitriol grew. From creating the masterpiece that is Late Registration, the changes, although minimal were evident on Graduation….. And then 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!?!).

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. Some would say thats his own fault for the repeated flare-ups. That maybe true, but surely the paparazzi intrusion and pictures aren’t his fault are they. But again, If he doesn’t want the publicity then perhaps he shouldn’t be courting it. But why shouldn’t he be allowed to take advantage of his status? He has earned that right after all. I could sit behind this laptop all night making argument and counter argument. A conceptualised version of the eternal question if you will; 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. The destruction of camera equipment and attacks on the paparazzi cannot detract from one undeniable fact. Kanye West will most definitely leave a worthwhile legacy.

Originally posted at Moon Project on 3/11/2014

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