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

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
Ok, so for the umpteenth time in this thread we have the ill considered and presumptuous inference that people who criticise him are implicitly racist in some way.

Nice.

You're twisting my words into something absurd. I explicitly said that I felt that this applied to a lot of the criticism - of course lots of other people can and do criticise Kanye without being 'implicitly racist'.

But yes, a lot of the criticism that has been levelled at Kanye, that i personally have seen or heard, has felt very dubious and racially loaded. Just to be clear,I am not referring to comments in this thread, most of which I haven't even read yet, but comments in the media and some from people I know.

I don't think calling that view 'ill-considered and presumptuous' is very helpful, when you don't know the comments I'm talking about. You don't like Kanye, that's fine - I'm talking about other people's criticisms here.
 
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padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
^more complicated than that, droid. what this guy said:

id say kanye is a victim of people not liking black celebs who appear to be arrogant...

not just arrogant but a particular kind of arrogant, the kind with "uppity n****r" lurking underneath it at some level, subconscious or not. see also: Spike Lee, various NBA/NFL players, etc. now, often enough these guys do things that actually are deserving of criticism or opprobrium, not all or even most criticism is racially tinged, and sometimes, especially nowadays when racial stuff is usually so much subtler, it can be hard to separate out what is. but: there's still a racial double standard for celebrities in the U.S. and outspoken and/or flamboyant black dudes still undoubtedly get the worst of it.

and Kanye gets it not just race-wise either. compared to say, R. Kelly, a confirmed sexual predator of young girls who's gotten a free pass for almost 20 years from many, many fans and media outlets, what the hell has Kanye really done that's so bad? he often comes across like a vain, egotistical deluded, jerk. ok. has he ever beat his wife, or shot anyone, or held someone captive and tortured them? cos I can think of celebrities who did all those things who were pretty easily forgiven. I'm not exactly sure why Kanye is singled out for much less but I'd imagine it has something to do w/being outspoken and stereotype-breaking (and yes, massively arrogant)
 
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padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
and for the record Kanye is his own worst enemy. I'm not defending his delusional rants or persecution complex, just saying that those things aren't entirely self-generated. he exaggerates how bad it is - compared to the days when outspoken black celebrities really did have it bad (i.e., Ali or Jack Johnson) his level of outrage is kind of galling - but still.

and like other people, I'm 100% for more arrogant jerk artists (and athletes). as long as you can back it up and walk the walk. isn't this what people loved/hated about, say, Alex Ferguson (since you all won't know who Bill Belichik is).
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
I do wonder if the video to ''Bound 2'' would have been taken in the same way if Kanye was a white guy - I'd imagine people would have ASSUMED it was an ironic, tongue-in-cheek joke, whereas with Kanye most people thought he was being deadly serious, and therefore an idiot. But then, is it really a matter of race or is it Kanye's own persona that elicits this reaction?

I think you were right initially here. There are plenty of pretty thick white people who would have been given the benefit of the doubt in this case.
 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
kanye is just more threatening, because beneath all the shit-talking is some intelligence, and some interest in presenting Important Issues (regardless of what you think about how he goes about exploring them) that still rub people up the wrong way. he likes to provoke. kanye is contentious and arrogant. most other rappers are just arrogant, which is easier to dismiss.

and for the record Kanye is his own worst enemy. I'm not defending his delusional rants or persecution complex, just saying that those things aren't entirely self-generated. he exaggerates how bad it is - compared to the days when outspoken black celebrities really did have it bad (i.e., Ali or Jack Johnson) his level of outrage is kind of galling - but still.

this is otm.
 
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Corpsey

call me big papa
I think the two incidents which really fixed his image as an arrogant jerkass in the public consciousness were:

1. ''George Bush doesn't care about black people''.
2. Interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the VMAs.

Obviously his race came into the first one, but the second one was really just him being obnoxious. Although of course Taylor Swift is about as white America friendly as pop stars get.
 

droid

Beast of Burden
You're twisting my words into something absurd. I explicitly said that I felt that this applied to a lot of the criticism - of course lots of other people can and do criticise Kanye without being 'implicitly racist'.

But yes, a lot of the criticism that has been levelled at Kanye, that i personally have seen or heard, has felt very dubious and racially loaded. Just to be clear,I am not referring to comments in this thread, most of which I haven't even read yet, but comments in the media and some from people I know.

I don't think calling that view 'ill-considered and presumptuous' is very helpful, when you don't know the comments I'm talking about. You don't like Kanye, that's fine - I'm talking about other people's criticisms here.

TBF, you did qualify your statement, but that was one of a sequence of insinuations on this thread that could easily be interpreted as criticise kanye = probably racist. I am puzzled with how you define 'a lot' though. I guess Ill have to take your and Padraig's word for it as I have even less interest in cataloguing criticisms of Kanye than in his music.

BTW, I dont actually dislike him that much, Hes a gimp but I dont really care about him personally, I simply dont rate his music.

Album of the year in the Grauniad. The comments btl are good examples of what Tom Lea said- people who dont like him don't just ignore him

Its an article suggesting his is the best record of the year, thats ALWAYS contentious. Im also slightly baffled as to what the correct reaction should be when he is lauded in print. Either agree or be accused of 'obsessing' over him if you criticise. Its the hater conundrum.

Anyway, in good faith and inspired by this thread I went out and listened to Yeezus properly and Im still pretty baffled. The flow was slightly better than expected, but the lyrics are mostly terrible, I was most disappointed by the production however. Despite my hyperbole, I will grudgingly admit that he has made a few bangers in his time, but this LP seems to mainly consist of sub 2001 Def-jux production and grime riddims circa 2008. 'New slaves' was probably the highlight musically, but dubious lyrically to say the least. Obvious howlers include the out of time capleton sample on 'I am a god' and 'Bound 2' in its entirety. It seems he cant help but ruin a tune in some way.

So yeah, its idiosyncratic but thats about it. The only impressive thing is the scope of influences. More innovation in a weeks worth of dancehall. 2/10
 
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padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
want to draw attention to this: Richard Sherman and the Plight of the Conquering Negro. it's not directly about Kanye but it lays out clearly much of what I was trying to get at above about the different standards for outspoken black male celebrities. you don't really need to know anything about NFL to understand the context.

the most germane part:

When you're a public figure, there are rules. Here's one: A public personality can be black, talented, or arrogant, but he can't be any more than two of these traits at a time. It's why antics and soundbites from guys like Brett Favre, Johnny Football and Bryce Harper [all white] seem almost hyper-American, capable of capturing the country's imagination, but black superstars like Sherman, Floyd Mayweather, and Cam Newton are seen as polarizing, as selfish, as glory boys, as distasteful and perhaps offensive. It's why we recoil at Kanye West's rants...and partly why, over the six years of Barack Obama's presidency, a noisy, obstreperous wing of the GOP has seemed perpetually on the cusp of calling him "uppity." Barry Bonds at his peak was black, talented, and arrogant; he was a problem for America. Joe Louis was black, talented, and at least outwardly humble; he was "a credit to his race, the human race," as Jimmy Cannon once wrote.

All this is based on the common, very American belief that black males must know their place, and more tellingly, that their place is somewhere different than that of whites. It's been etched into our cultural fabric that to act as anything but a loud, yet harmless buffoon or an immensely powerful, yet humble servant is overstepping. It's uppity.
 

Leo

Well-known member
i don't know. if a white guy did and said the things kanye has, i'd think he was an ass too.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
also, @droid: "could easily be interpreted as criticise kanye = probably racist"

(I actually started writing a long in-depth response to this at the time but never got around to finishing it. but I really want you/anyone to understand how that's wrong. so I'll add what I have to the linked piece, bit disjointed tho it is)

no one here said that, not remotely. between outright racism and the coded, euphemism, kind of subconsciously embedded level lies a huge, ill-defined gray area. literally "lurking underneath", in a Jungian abyss sense. Kanye like, any splashy black celebrity [like Sherman did] attracts outright racism, b/c the internet has many venues for racists/trolls to say dumb things, but that's not what we're talking about here for the most part. I wish yall weren't all so basketball ignorant cos much NBA coverage is and has for a long time been the epicenter of this nonsense [it's not as prevalent in NFL coverage for a variety of reasons I won't get into, tho there's still plenty of racial-tinged nonsense], and as I longtime NBA junkie I see it every day and it's the perfect example. but still: Ali, Spike Lee. James Baldwin on a more intellectual level. Allen Iverson on a more street level. Tupac, kind of. see what's being gotten at here? Kanye, tho it's complicated even more than usual by the world's largest ego/chip on shoulder/persecution complex and even the ultramaterialism, is in that lineage in his way. I bet he'd also, totally w/o irony, see himself w/dudes like James Forman and Amiri Baraka tho that, no. he lacks the level of self-awareness that someone like Das Racist has (tho said lack might be as much a strength as weakness) and even when his politics are right on they're swamped in ultra-rich asshole dilettante miasma, i.e., John Lennon syndrome. I'm not bothered by the ridiculous lyrics or contradictions. pop's power, as ever, lies heavily in contradiction. pop is id. it doesn't need to be coherent or defensible. he does do plenty of objectionable stuff, it's just he's mostly criticized for the wrong reasons. my personal interest in him is more as a huge, knotty cultural bellwether than a musician tho.

quickly on his music tho: as noted I'm indifferent, tho as others I'd venture his real talent isn't innovation but crafting unusual or innovative influences into pop as a Bowie/Madonna style cultural vampire with the added bonus that unlike most cultural vampires who function as creatives w/skilled producers (the Enos and Jellybean Benitezes) to actually execute their ideas, Kanye combines both into one person. also he seems to have a bunch of weird outre/avant art ideas lurking beneath the surface, which is why I also like the Lennon/Ono combination comparison.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
also just wanna note how great this was, even it is wildly inaccurate about what actually happened w/MJ and the Bulls

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/J2NT1_Q7Q5g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

@Leo - if you don't by now get how totally that is not the point, I don't know what else to tell you. he is an ass, no one's ever claimed otherwise
 

Leo

Well-known member
also just wanna note how great this was, even it is wildly inaccurate about what actually happened w/MJ and the Bulls

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/J2NT1_Q7Q5g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

@Leo - if you don't by now get how totally that is not the point, I don't know what else to tell you. he is an ass, no one's ever claimed otherwise

i was reacting to this part of the quote you pulled:

It's why antics and soundbites from guys like Brett Favre, Johnny Football and Bryce Harper [all white] seem almost hyper-American, capable of capturing the country's imagination, but black superstars like Sherman, Floyd Mayweather, and Cam Newton are seen as polarizing, as selfish, as glory boys, as distasteful and perhaps offensive.
 

NATO

Well-known member
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rJEv6kxangM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 

Numbers

Well-known member
Look-at-me-and-please-just-love-me: all stage performers need attention, but Kanye brings it to a new level. That's what makes him annoying, for me, not his race.
 
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