KAN YAY OR KAN NAY? (The Kanye West Thread)

Corpsey

call me big papa
Strikes me as odd that there isn't a thread about Kanye already on here (perhaps there is and my search function ain't shit). 'Yeezus' is topping all of the end of year polls for music critics, and not a day goes by that I don't see something about Kanye beating up paparazzi, or chucking hecklers out of his ridiculously grandiose operap shows, or being parodied on SNL, or going off on a radio show host. Love him, hate him, he's surely the single most divisive and interesting figure in popular music at the moment.

It has struck me recently how important image/marketing can be in pushing an artist or indeed musical style over into mainstream popularity/notoriety and thus sustainability and Kanye is a striking exemplar of this - his personality, the images and words SURROUNDING his music, are arguably as important as the music itself - if not MORE so - in turning him into such a figure of importance. Of course, his music has often been brilliant (although I'm not all that au fait and hope that this thread might help me/us bone up on Ye's back catalogue) and certainly very controversial. Whatever you think of 'Yeezus', the sheer boldness and of it is admirable - as with his narcissism, his music feels undiluted. His lack of self-awareness, and of shame-faced-ness, and of irony, makes him an easy target for parody. But I have to also say that this confidence, this passion and sheer belief in the seriousness and importance of his music makes Kanye an interesting figure for throwing a lot of the electronic/dance music I listen to into relief. Where is the personality, the ideas, the gravity (even if ridiculous) in dance music at the moment? Should electronic/dance music exist for escapism only, and has it always existed for just that purpose? Was grime the last time music that would get salivated over on dissensus really ''MATTERED''?

I see I've ended up ranting like Kanye here. I really just was surprised that one of the most discussed artists of 2013 hasn't really been discussed on here much (to my knowledge).
 

jimitheexploder

Well-known member
I love the spectical of Kanye more than I like his music, wish I could get into it more. But I just can't with a lot of it. His personality makes him a propper perfect pop star. I'd love it if he did a podcast, just him going on, it'd be wicked.

He's really been digging into the dance scene for producers: Hudson Mohawke & Lunice aka TNGHT, Arca, Evian Christ, Daft Punk, Gesaffelstein of the ones I know of on Yeezus. So he kind of is bringing that energy into the dance scene. Maybe it'll get more people on board with that sort of thing I dunno.
 
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Corpsey

call me big papa
I guess the equivalent figure in dance music (though this was years and years ago) was GOLDIE - passionate, highly articulate and slightly crazy, and a poster-boy for jungle/DNB in the way that Kanye is for rap music at the moment. And, like Kanye, I feel like only somebody as driven and confident>arrogant as Goldie could have produced some of the stuff on 'Timeless' and elsewhere (though of course Rob Playford had a huge hand in 'Timeless').

Grime had a lot of characters - Wiley being the biggest of all and, again, a musical genius.
 

Leo

Well-known member
His lack of self-awareness, and of shame-faced-ness, and of irony, makes him an easy target for parody. But I have to also say that this confidence, this passion and sheer belief in the seriousness and importance of his music makes Kanye an interesting figure...
same could be said for corpse paint-wearing death metal dudes or heart-on-their-sleeve emo rockers but i don't listen to their music either.

i've read all the great analysis and reviews, many written by people here and elsewhere whose opinions i trust, but i just can't bring myself to listen to this guy. i just can't take him seriously. my loss, i'm sure, but i just don't have any interest and always seem to have a million other things i'd rather listen to when i do think about him.
 

jimitheexploder

Well-known member
He's not on the scale of Kanye but still... Danny Brown brings a load of personality and over the top madness to the table with dance people too. He's got Paul White, Darq E Freaker and Rustie all over his stuff.

But yeah its tough for producers to get that personality out there without a figurehead like an MC or something working with them. I mean Zomby is a laugh but its not going to inspire massive OTT mainstream exposure, not even Goldie levels of fame unless he goes on to conduct orchestras with his mask on for a BBC4 program while slewing the string section on twitter.
 

Trillhouse

Well-known member
I like Kanye, it perplexes me that people don't get it, but i can see that he's not for everyone. Yes, he's somewhat of an assclown and his lyrics are horribly ignorant and misogynistic at times and overall his music is incredibly forward looking and rewarding.

I love that fact that Yeezus is in many ways a European produced rap record, and that someone like HudMo is finally getting the kind mainstream recognition and production work his talent deserves.

I mean, that level of fame, celebrity and wealth can, and does, drive people crazy. Personally I find Kanye's self absorbed confessional infinitely more entertaining the JayZ's take on life as a mega rich rappeur. Or the endless bores who rap about how they've made it by are still down with da streets.
He is a product of the times we live in, a culture that we're all part of and feed into. The embodiment of The American Dream with all it's bullshit, neurosis, greed, hate and desperation laid bare for all to see. And the most interesting art often comes for those who aren't afraid to put the worst of themselves out there for the world. And we in turn like to revel in that, especially those who dislike him, but I think Kanye loves being a spectacle and you can only take half the things he says seriously.
 

mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
He's the best musical vampire we've had since Madonna.

I love "All of the Lights" - the video version - and bits of 808s.

I think his cultural influence has been, and will be, more profound than we realise.

I would also happily punch his fucking smug face into oblivion.
 

droid

Beast of Burden
I honestly don't understand how anyone rates him. He's a joke. His rhymes and delivery are appalling. His production is shit apart from the odd occasion where he steals a nice loop from someone. Its as if someone took wiley and pickled him in cocaine for 10 years - except without the groundbreaking early work.

You've all seen 'bound' right? If that tune and video had been produced 15 years ago it would have been seen as a masterpiece of comedy.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
808s and Heartbreak is my favourite Kanye album wot I've heard so far, I think. Was obviously massively influential on rap and R&B - although I'm not quite sure if Future et al are more a result of yer T-Pains than Kanye's take on autotune (Drake is almost certainly a direct product of Kanye's success though). Still, I think that album really shows how much of a pop genius Kanye is. 'Love Lockdown', 'So Amazing', 'Paranoid'...

I think Kanye's massive popularity + eccentricity has also laid the red carpet out for rappers like Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky and 'em.

I have got 'My Beautiful Dark Fantasy' (sic) on my MP3izzle and I'm going to give it a spin this week. At the very least you have to respect his drive to change his musical direction with each album, which is almost unheard of in rap music as far as I know.

Sidebar note: Kanye used to be a brilliant producer (and probably still is, although its hard to tell how much of a hand he has in things nowadays cos he seems to work with a whole coterie of other producers) - ''B R Right'' by Trina feat. Luda, for example, and ''Guess Who's Back'' by Scarface to name but two.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I honestly don't understand how anyone rates him. He's a joke. His rhymes and delivery are appalling. His production is shit apart from the odd occasion where he steals a nice loop from someone. Its as if someone took wiley and pickled him in cocaine for 10 years - except without the groundbreaking early work.

You've all seen 'bound' right? If that tune and video had been produced 15 years ago it would have been seen as a masterpiece of comedy.
Don't agree with your first points really although I can see how his rhyme style grates on people and sometimes it is straight up plops. Personally although I don't think he's technically the best rapper around, his lyrics are often more interesting/funny/thoughtful than a lot of other rappers, particularly if you're talking in terms of rappers who have huge mainstream success.

'Bound 2' is hilarious, but I think it was supposed to be. I saw an interview with Kanye where he said the idea of 'Bound 2' was to animate a white-trash T-shirt, but with a black guy/couple in the middle. Given his appropriation of the confederate flag for the Yeezus tour I think this might be what he honestly wanted to do with that video. I think Kanye has much more of a sense of humour than is sometimes apparent.

I'm not saying he isn't a bit of a cock though cos he obviously is.
 

droid

Beast of Burden
Im not claiming to be all that familiar with his work as I avoid it as much as I can. Reynolds bigged up college drop out when it came out. I downloaded it and thought it was pretty meh. From what Ive heard since its probably the best thing he's done.

Jay-z is pretty shit too. Amazing how the two biggest stars in hip hop can barely rap at all.
 

DavidovMandem

New member
why does kanye lack self awareness? what is self awareness?
btw don't like the danny brown comparison, he turned lame a long time ago
 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
hes a genius. of a sort. yeezus is a brilliant record. best rap album of the year imo, even if the lyrics are a mess, and it doesnt stick with the abrasion of the first half/its best tracks. but kanye is one of the few big name rappers who actually sounds inspired in his vocals. theres that real sense of fun/enjoyment in what hes doing, even when hes just talking shit, or maybe ESPECIALLY when hes just talking shit. hes also brilliant at PR - while i think his tantrummy prima donna ranting is all genuine, i think he also knows that this is what people feed off, that they love to hate him, and that that is exactly what you need in 2013 to get people talking about you. he knows that indifference is ineffectual - if he had stayed the college dropout guy, he wouldnt be where he is. but it is a bit sad that he has basically bought into the status quo of mainstream rap. all that early conflict shtick about loving materialism but being unsure about it has basically turned into a full on embrace. hes just another asshole rapper now, albeit a more intelligent one. he knows glaring contradictions are more interesting than sound, well reasoned politics. i mean, that is also a problem, and is kind of problematic - do we need another person behaving like an asshole to show how succesful he is? is that the only version of success we are familiar with and want to see? you could accuse kanye of buying into the status quo too much but hes just reflecting the wider culture.

what i find most interesting about kanye these days is that people are wondering why he cant be like the old underdog guy, like that was the 'real' kanye. but the thing about kanye is that he was never from the projects - his mother was a professor iirc. so all the 'rich people problems' people like to blast him for now, are actually still real problems - it might sound like crybaby problems when he moans about racism in fashion (and even worse parallels it with civil rights issues), but those problems are real middle class problems. he was always rapping about middle class stuff, its just that people arent comfortable with rappers having artistic pretensions (or being middle class). rapping about corporate racism is still 'real', and yet you still get people like charlamagne the god on that radio interview recently saying things like 'those are rich people problems'. its like people expect rappers to always rep the 'man on the street' and i think that is kanyes issue right now - hes in another sphere entirely, and doesnt get why people dont understand it. but its odd that people dont like him complaining about wealth, they only want to share in the vicarious thrill off what hes buying/bought etc. but prejudice at a corporate level is real too, which is his current fixation and what he cant seem to let go. he has no perspective on it, so ends up sounding maniacal, but thats also one of the best things about kanye - its like an unfiltered id broadcast, hes not trying to sound like brother ali or whoever (who i like btw), hes just letting it all out there. and he has some major issues, with all sorts of things, whether its women, money, race, whatever. most fascinating figure in the mainstream for my money, more so than gaga or whoever. he bares it all.

its hard to rate his albums as theyre so different but id rate them like this (though this will prob change) -
yeezus
808s
late registration
fantasy
graduation
college dropout
 
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rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
i think people get too distracted by what they perceive to be his arrogance, but when was it a sin to be an arrogant popstar? and i find it interesting how much people hate him for that, it seems odd. i actually like kanye's arrogance - its what i like (and also dislike) and expect from my rappers (also why i like rick ross), esp when its done with humour, which it is with him - he is frequently hilarious with his outbursts (and if you listen to his interviews, there is more to him than that, in his podcast with brett easton ellis he comes off as quite self effacing, humble, and even insecure about how he is being received). more importantly, i think he has the talent to back it up, considering how many standout songs hes produced over the years. hes never technically been the 'greatest' rapper but i would rather listen to him than most of his contemporaries in mainstream rap. he is never, ever boring.
 
i think people get too distracted by what they perceive to be his arrogance, but when was it a sin to be an arrogant popstar? and i find it interesting how much people hate him for that, it seems odd. i actually like kanye's arrogance - its what i like (and also dislike) and expect from my rappers (also why i like rick ross), esp when its done with humour, which it is with him - he is frequently hilarious with his outbursts (and if you listen to his interviews, there is more to him than that, in his podcast with brett easton ellis he comes off as quite self effacing, humble, and even insecure about how he is being received). more importantly, i think he has the talent to back it up, considering how many standout songs hes produced over the years. hes never technically been the 'greatest' rapper but i would rather listen to him than most of his contemporaries in mainstream rap. he is never, ever boring.
agreed about the insecurity, i felt sorry for him watching the sway interview. in the same way i feel sorry for David Brent, while pissing myself laughing

i thought this was on point http://ourlegaci.com/2013/12/02/kanyes-frantz-fanon-complex/
 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
that was a good read. kanye is interesting because he doesnt seem to have any awareness of how much of a tragic archetype he is now, in his status-envy. if you watch that sway interview, he honestly does seem to think that he has somehow made it, or made it further to the top of what success means at least, by having a (white) woman like kim kardashian on his arm.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Droid, are you talking about Jay-Z NOW or EVER? Everybody knows he's slightly rubbish now but he has a big catalogue of classic songs, and has proved himself as a lyricist on numerous occasions (as well as having one of the most charismatic deliveries in rap music over the years).

Re: the thing about Kanye complaining about not being allowed to be a billionare. This reminds me of Chris Rock's routine about the difference between being wealthy and rich, and how black people are allowed to be rich but not wealthy. I think Kanye's perspective on it is more egotistical than that, the mewling of a frustrated narcissist, but OTOH I do think there is an argument somewhere in his sometimes incoherant rants about how white america/corporations profit off black culture without letting black people get on the same level of power and influence. Charlamagne is right to criticise Kanye for attacking corporations while shilling for them, but then I suppose Kanye is saying that unless you can get on the same level as those megarich companies, you can't really take them on in any meaningful way. AGAIN - it'd be naive to think that Kanye's ego might not be the main thing at stake here FOR KAYNE, but at the same time, an artist operating on the level of visiblity as Kanye has more real power to make a statement than an underground rapper selling records to a couple of thousands of hip-hop nerds. Whether or not he's getting that message out there is another thing entirely.

Can't really get into this or even sort my thoughts out cos I'm at work but cheers for the contribution rubberdinghy, very interesting to read.
 
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