When I listen to Kanye West I always think of speed bumps. In most of the songs of his that I like there’s at least one speed bump. Take the song ‘Power’. It’s a great song with a really catchy intro, the lyrics are fantastic and the entire song is put together really well…but then…speed bump. Just have a look at these lyrics from the song and see if you can spot where I raise an eyebrow.
They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation
Well that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation
At the end of the day, god damn it I’m killing this shit
I know damn well y’all feeling this shit
I don’t need your pussy, bitch, I’m on my own dick
I ain’t gotta power trip, who you going home with?
A lot of how I feel about Justin Timberlake’s music translates to Kanye. The world that his music exists in, the genre that the music comes from, just doesn’t connect with me. A lot of the themes of his songs and the language that he uses are very different from the stuff that I like and are absolutely not my taste. Yet somehow, despite this, I still listen to him. See that’s the thing with speed bumps, after a while you just get used to them. You know they’re coming and you adjust accordingly.
One major difference between Kanye and Justin is that I’m really intrigued by Kanye as a person. Its not Justin’s fault that he’s nowhere near as interesting as Kanye. It’s just that not very many people are! His career has been endlessly entertaining and on occasion very troubling. Aside from his music, the man is still box office. The Taylor Swift stuff, never smiling in photographs, he’s married to an enormous ass with an enormous ass, incredible Twitter rants…The list of notable incidents goes on.
My favourite incident was his argument with Jimmy Kimmel. The video of the interview is in the link here
It’s pretty long but I find it so fascinating. He seems like such an interesting and, as he says, weird guy who believes in his own abilities and wants to be the very best version of himself that he can be. Completely aware of how he can be viewed as being an ass yet totally unapologetic. There is definitely something to admire about that.
He calls himself a creative genius in the interview and does so unironically which is something Kimmel brings up, the use of the word ‘genius’. He honestly believes he is a genius and when I think about how he can make me listen to full hip-hop albums I think that maybe he is a genius!
He mentions Muhammad Ali as being someone that you either loved or hated and I wonder what side of the fence I would have come down on if I had been around when Ali shook the world. Looking back now, when we can truly see Ali’s boxing career in full and how he was able to back up all the talking that he did, I feel much more confident saying he was amazing. But in the beginning I think I might have wanted someone to knock him senseless so he would stop talking! Which I think is how some people feel about Kanye – some people absolutely want to knock him out! But it will be a long time before we are able to look on his body of work and decide whether it was worth putting up with all his nonsense for the sake of his music.
Music I’ve pretty much enjoyed from the very first time I heard it. I can remember the trailer for the movie Jarhead used the song ‘Jesus Walks’ and I went to find out what the song was because it sounded so good. Speaking of Jesus…
I was in church on Sunday which is a spectacularly rare occurrence for me and it was very, very cold. There’s a Simpsons episode when the family are in church, it’s freezing in Springfield, Reverend Lovejoy explains to everyone attending that the heating system has failed, the door freezes over and they can’t get out…that was a pretty accurate portrayal of my Sunday morning minus the frozen door. Also, this…
If you are a church going person? Great. If you enjoy worshipping in the house of the lord? Fantastic. If you feel that being connected to religion is good for you and it makes you feel better about life then I respect that and I’m happy you’re happy…but you have to admit that mass could be so much more exciting right? Can we agree on that? Of course we can. Better music could make the whole church experience so much more interesting. What if we could replace the regular standard churchy church music with modern songs about Jesus? I spent about 40 minutes in church on Sunday thinking “You know what would make this service better? Some Kanye”
Imagine mass starting the same way ‘Jesus Walks’ does?? How amazing would that be?? The music would start and the priest would make his entrance, all the way up the middle of the church like a WWE wrestler with ‘Jesus Walks’ as his theme song. Different priests could have different personas. “Through hellfire and brimstone here comes Father Kane!” Kanye even gives us a response to the prayers of the faithful in here. Instead of “Lord hear us” what if we all said “Jesus walks with them”?
‘Gold Digger’ was probably the first Kanye song that most people heard because it was gigantic. It was gigantic because it’s so, so good. You can’t help but dance even a little when the song comes on or sing a little bit of the Jamie Foxx part. The one thing you should not do if like me you are incredibly white and nerdy, is rap this. I’m pretty sure I know all the words, there might be one or two that I don’t or that I could stumble over and no one would notice that I didn’t know them but I’m too middle-aged and too bald to do rapping justice. I once played a bit of Kanye’s music at work and I was immediately told it didn’t suit me. I knew before I was told. There are some people on earth who are just not meant for certain genres and I am not meant for hip hop.
So The College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation were all similar. At least to my ears. Then came 808s & Heartbreak where Kanye discovered auto-tune. From the very first song you know you’re in new territory. ‘Say You Will’ is a great song and it also has an outro that reminds me of being randomly stuck for hours on a level in Final Fantasy VII on PS2. Not in a battle or anything, just unsure of which direction to go in, wandering around aimlessly trying to find some purpose in the game. I’m not good at games.
West’s musical evolution has continued. Now he’s so far into God/Genius mode that he can rap about croissants and we all just go along with it. I fear that there may be a moment in time when Kanye jumps the shark but what I forget is that he jumped the shark a long time ago.
My Dark Twisted Fantasy though is, in my mind, his masterpiece, his Rumble in the Jungle. Each track sounds like it took monumental effort to put together and the construction of the sounds and the layers and layers of music in each track is staggering. Like I said before, I am Jon Snow when it comes to Hip-Hop, but even to a layman like me I can see that this album is spectacular and that there are songs on it that will undoubtedly stand the test of time. Even though some of those songs have speed bumps in them I still love them… and Kanye doesn’t really care what I think anyway.