There really isn’t anything that’s not controversial or polarizing about Kanye West. You’d be hard–pressed to find someone who doesn’t think he’s an asshole, but somehow his assholery can make him even more appealing — not just as a musician, but as a cultural icon. There probably won’t ever be a consensus about Mr. West, which makes him a perfect candidate for a good–natured debate, in which two sides present their cases. Read on for the “Ye”s and nays of everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) personality.
Can He Get Much Higher?
By Alex Hosenball
Few people, short of dictators, politicians and Mel Gibson, can be accused of insanity, racism and membership in the Illuminati — however, Yeezy has all of those boxes checked and more (let’s not forget the internet meme). From Twitter to Tay Swift, Yeezy is a publicist’s dream, provided there is no such thing as bad PR, and arguably, there isn’t. Kanye may be the King of Crazy, but this comes with certain benefits and endearing qualities.
Lately on a “caps lock all day erry day” Twitter stint, Yeezy has been proclaiming his work “HIGH END RAP MUSIC,” as well as tweeting about his status as the new Stones and the new Beatles. But who is to argue with him? Kanye makes the headlines, providing the populace with a symbol of pure hedonism and affluence. Truly, Yeezy must live Nero’s dream — diamond teeth, fur pillows and marble conference tables. How can it get better?
All absurdity aside, while Yeezy may not be a paragon of benevolence or altruism in our society, he is happily willing to represent a special kind of role model. Kanye is aware of his own absurdity in a beautiful fashion, which became especially evident after 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Surely someone who is aware of his status as a joke (or just a jerk, to those more critical) can’t be completely crazy. The recently released video for “Monster” is a fantastic example of this: Kanye flashes his diamond grills, makes love to corpses and generally acts like, well, a monster. But that’s the point of it, of the video, of the album, of Kanye. He has become so unhinged and self–obsessed that every cry out for attention simply pads his character. Perhaps this rap star has reached a form of nirvana, as he asks us, “Can we get much higher?”
Kanye West is like a new Muppet, all things considered. He just wants to be loved, in a twisted way, and it’s quite easy to imagine the man as a mini–me made of felt and operated through the posterior. After all, half of what Yeezy–Bear says comes out of his ass anyways.
He’s a Mothafuckin’ Monster
By Alexa Nicolas
Let’s sidestep Kanye’s huge ego, the infamous VMA T. Swift fiasco and the Hurricane Katrina benefit concert mess. Let’s focus on the music. After all, West did say to MTV, “I do have a goal in this lifetime to be the greatest artist of all time, [but] that’s very difficult being that I can’t dance or sing.” Kanye rose to fame out of his role as a producer and really his production skills are the only thing he has going for him.
Kanye’s redeeming qualities are those that come with being a good producer. It’s a given that he has an amazing repertoire of samples to pull from and a band of artists from Bon Iver to Beyoncé willing to sign their names on his albums. Though his palette of beats and samples is both varied and excellent, Kanye’s production often just means rapping over a forgotten song from a previous decade.
This is the case in his 2003 hit “Through the Wire,” which simply speeds up Chaka Khan’s ’85 “Through the Fire,” or his 2005 “My Way Home” in which West raps over Gil Scott–Heron’s “Home is Where the Hatred Is.” And when one delves into West’s album credits it seems his creativity is undermined by his samples. While the results of this massive borrowing are often undoubtedly, extraordinarily listenable, where is the line between Kanye and Girl Talk? His work also leaves us wondering how much of the picking and shuffling Kanye actually does himself.
Still, Kanye seriously can’t sing, as exhibited on his album 808s and Heartbreak, in which he jumps on the autotuning bandwagon. All the while, all of his music essentially encompasses the lyricism of first world problems. Kanye usually just raps about his self–consciousness and his ego. Sometimes he even rhymes a word with itself (see: any song). Really the only thing that makes Kanye Kanye is the money. Given his riches, he can pull off the shit he does (oh what’s up, Runaway). Finally, his penis isn’t even that nice — at least the shaft isn’t (Google it for yourself). In the end, Kanye isn’t that talented or that creative, but I guess that’s what so great about America and the world today.