There’s a Real Message in Kanye West’s Latest RantFebruary 25th, 2013
By Gee King
Kanye West is going crazy and we’ve seen this before. That’s how most would explain the recent string of impassioned rants Mr. West has been dropping on concertgoers throughout 2013. Whether you love or hate Ye, his outbursts have become legend in a universe full of stars afraid to share their true feelings about the time and space they inhabit. Whether during post-Katrina telethons or on awards show stages, Yeezy has never let his surroundings stop him from sharing his truth. But his most recent moment of revelation, during an impromptu performance at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, went farther than most fans and critics could comprehend.
An off-the-cuff joke about Justin Timberlake’s latest pop single “Suit & Tie” is what grabbed the blog headlines and drove discussion in the Twittersphere, distracting fans from his greater message of creative freedom. And crass shots taken at the Grammys and President Obama will be seen as “coming on too strong” to those still reverent to the power structure that drives the music industry and, ultimately, corporate America. But true artists and fans should be inspired by Ye’s burning desire to share his spirit’s dreams without having to sell his soul in the process.
Those that missed the message will claim Yeezy’s jealous of Jay-Z’s decision to tour with Justin Timberlake. Those in denial will call him a hypocrite for his own participation in the corporate catch-22 throughout his career. But focusing on the obvious flaws of a multi-dimensional being can only distract from the true question at hand for so long. “Remind me again why we in this s–t,” screamed Ye over a stripped down loop of “Clique’s” haunting chords. “I know it’s more than getting rich,” he mumbled, still unsure of how much truth the world could take in one dose.
Fans in London, which he called a second home (West fled there to become an intern at Louis Vuitton in wake of Taylor Swiftgate in 2009) ate up his raw energy, cheering on his declaration that “creativity fuels everything” and laughing at his announcement that he “hates business people.” In spite of the outrageous balling he and Jay teased (or inspired) us with on Watch the Throne, Kanye has never seemed fully satisfied by the money and fame that his art has generated. Through the success, his consciousness has stayed rooted in the underground hip hop scene that raised him. For all of his collabs with pop music megastars, West has always seemed most comfortable beside the Talib Kweli’s and Mos Def’s that grew him into the new-millennium backpacker’s hero. But while the irony of his Louis Vuitton backpack drew fans in when he first introduced himself as an MC in 2003, it’s clear that his days in the pink polo still haunt the conscious kid that was simply trying to get his dreams out on the largest possible stage.