I Quit At Trying To Understand Kanye

Kim Kardashian Hosts The New Year's Eve Countdown At 1 OAK NightclubIf you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that I go to bat for Kanye West. I’m a MAJOR fan of his music and especially his energy at live shows. What I’ve always been at odds about is his attitude and what’s behind his way of thinking. I’ve thought that his arrogance is a just a mask for his insecurity, but it’s never been enough to muddle my love for him. Until recently, I’ve always been able to separate the music from the man.

Over the last month, he’s taken me on an emotional rollercoaster. I watched him in horror with Jimmy Kimmel as he retreated to this odd internal place, using his “new voice,” then going on a rampage about why his girl, now fiancé, deserves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, why he’s the best to ever do it—it, being everything and why they as a unit aren’t given their fair shake in fashion and the upper echelon. Classicism is always before racism, therefore no matter how influential he and Kimmy are, they still can’t sit at the House of Whoever’s table like this is high school. Apparently, Grammy’s, reality shows and Sears clothing lines combined should translate into success in Italian couture.

Nobody got it. We all, in the studio and at home, just sat there and listened, quietly confused…or we zoned out. I, self-proclaimed Yeezy diehard, changed the channel. No way I would’ve given him yet another platform to vent his frustrations if I were Kimmel.

He continued his media rampage this Monday, giving me the warm and fuzzies on Big Boi’s show. There, he freestyled in his REAL voice, gave a complete concert over his tracks, complete with jokes and that Kool-aid smile we haven’t seen. He seemed relaxed and more like himself. Yesterday, he interviewed with Ryan Seacrest and was back on the same ol’ ish.

Ol’ boy has drowned in the abyss of stupid love and has taken supporting his mate to a whole ‘nother level. The Captain Save A *** cape is on so tight, he’s about to choke. He says Kim is the epitome of fashion, so why isn’t she on the cover of Vogue? We don’t jock Michelle Obama’s style like we do hers, and Mrs. Obama surely can’t take a sexy selfie like Kim on Instagram.

WHAT?!

Why would she? She’s not thirsty…She’s well-educated, accomplished and married to the leader of the Free World. Pardon me if I don’t see the comparison here. Levels, sir. Levels.

So now, I get it. Cut the talk about he’s been crazy since his mama died. We all lose when we try to analyze a guy who randomly changes his voice when talking to white people about classism. It’s clear that he operates in another world. In his world, half-nude selfies, pop culture, etc. are king. That’s the not the world of Vogue editors, Italian clothing designers or the First Lady of the United States. Unfortunately, those two worlds don’t always collide, and sometimes they shouldn’t.

What pains me the most is that he might be the only one who believes his antics. He mentioned to Seacrest that people get caught up on not what he says, but how he says it. Great point. He forgot that delivery, context and a humble spirit are everything.  Even though his favorite go-to comparison, Michael Jordan, was the greatest, everyone also knows he’s an asshole. I hope Ye finds the validation he’s looking for because everyone knows that it’s not really in those Italian sneakers, leather jogging pants and Armenian girlfriends…everyone but him.

Creating the “Perfect Bitch”

Since Kanye West’s infamous “Perfect Bitch” tweet a couple of weeks ago in reference to his boo thang, Kim Kardashian, I’ve refused to discuss or write about their relationship. I’ve secretly wished this relationship would dissipate quietly mainly because I don’t get it or them—atleast as a couple. That’s very selfish of me, but you know how I feel about Kanye. I love his work, but his attitude about his relationship is more than annoying. I don’t want to have to begin separating the man from the music to remain a fan because you really don’t have one without the other.

Last night, faithful Keeping Up With the Kardashians fans tuned in for the Kanye sighting in the first segment, which I missed during all three airings. He brought his stylist in to revamp her closet to make sure she ended up on best dressed lists. He lent yays and nays to Kim’s pieces, from shoes to leather and shearling dog bags. I couldn’t figure out why a woman as stylish as Kim would take cues from a man who wears leather skirts and women’s silk blouses. It works for him, but only him, not his girlfriend.

I’d seen the pictures of her rocking his God-awful boots and a few other pieces he’d asked her to wear, but I thought maybe she was just modeling them probably to get him to shut up. You know he’s the type to whine when he doesn’t get his way. Anything for your man, I guess. Perhaps, she was really hyping up the relationship’s publicity for shits and giggles.

Then I saw her in that damn denim jacket during her confessional segment. That jacket was no trace of Kim, and all Kanye. It did NOTHING for her. This wasn’t them walking down the streets of Milan together after a day of shopping. She’d actually brought his style on her show and her brand.

Let us bow because ish just got real, for me anyway.

Why did Kim’s wardrobe need a makeover? If nothing else, her style is what makes me root for her. It’s classic and sexy in a way that isn’t over the top. Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen her ensembles repeatedly, but she has the body to pull off the most basic looks (white tee and denim with booties). What else does she do, but look chic effortlessly?”

I still maintain that K&K are fashion friends more than lovers. Yes, I’m sure they do what couples do (*ahem). They seem to enjoy each other’s company and what man doesn’t love a beautiful woman? However, this closet stunt has added another layer to my theory.

If Kim is Kanye’s “perfect bitch,” why is trying to change her? He doesn’t want a girlfriend. He wants a dress-up doll.

Think: Sean, the sleazy photographer in Mahogany who used Tracy (Diana Ross) as his artistic muse. She was a diamond in the rough, only needing his guidance to be a real star. He renamed her Mahogany and dressed her in the finest clothes and photographed her, all while sleeping with her, of course. Eventually, he dropped her when she refused to conform to his vision for her and her life.

I imagine the same thing will happen with KimYe IF Kim doesn’t get a backbone and reject West’s controlling ways.

It shouldn’t be surprising though. He probably did the same with Amber Rose. With the exception of his ex-girlfriend, Alexis Phifer, a designer and fashionista in her own right, Kanye has probably been playing dress u p with all of his girlfriends, and that makes me sad for a number of reasons.

Accept people for who they are, instead of trying change them as result of your own issues. When he referred to Kim as his “perfect bitch,” maybe he meant she’d be perfect when he finished with her.

Good luck to them.

Ye Day: A Letter to Mr. West

Kanye Omari West, it’s your birthday. You’re 35 and it seems just the other day you were the hungry 23-year-old producer trying to get on as a rapper. Back then you were most known for your beats like “H to the Izzo” and my favorite, “This Can’t Be Life,” but you had a message for us and the naysayers didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t even know who you were until “Through the Wire” debuted on MTV2. There was something so familiar, yet new about you. I felt like I could relate to you, and I was only a 22-year-old college graduate from Memphis, Tennessee.

A few months later, a friend brought The College Dropout to my apartment. We played in the car, and I fell in love. He wouldn’t even let me keep the copy to burn (sorry, but you know the deal) so I had to buy my own. I spent the summer buying mixtapes, “I’m G.O.O.D.” and anything else I could find with you on it.

Then, you talked about your struggle working in retail and other odd jobs while working on beats daily in the summer, then trying to prove yourself as a lyricist. That was 2004, my first year of graduate school. I played “Spaceship” every morning during my commute to my 7 a.m. communication theory class and every day on the way to work at night. I felt that song because I, too, was working a dead-end job trying to make dreams come true. When they’d lock us in SuperTarget after hours to restock and close the store well after 12 a.m., I’d sing the hook in my head. That album got me through. By the time “Jesus Walks” was released and I saw you walk your “walk” on the GRAMMY’S stage, you weren’t just a hood star anymore, but a global one.

“I been waiting on this my whole life. These dreams be waking me up at night.”

~ I Wonder

Late Registration and Graduation got me to work on the days when I hated having a steady 9-5. I don’t know what touches me the most, the music or the lyrics. I’ve seen you live as many times as possible, but  the Glow in the Dark tour changed my life. “I Wonder” gave me chills. You told us to get our dreams out no matter what. You sang “Hey Mama” and the entire crowd cried together. We’d seen your high moments and your lowest moment.

I and everyone else loved you because you were honest and unafraid, even to a fault. I guess it’s no secret that you can be an asshole, but that’s what makes you Kanye. You’ve done everything from going left and making remarks about the POTUS during a natural disaster telethon (“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”) to upstaging a little white girl receiving her most prized and likely most memorable award yet (I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all times.”)  to cursing out fans during live shows for…whatever. For a second, I asked myself how could I love music from a person I didn’t like all the time. Was it possible to have a love-hate relationship with you?

Over the years your music and message have changed, and some have criticized you for it, saying “He ain’t the same Ye from College Dropout.” I understand. The kid from Chi-City finally lives the life he’s always dreamed of, complete with his own designer sneakers, couture-packed closets and the most beautiful arm pieces you can find on God’s green earth. You’ve loved and lost, and though I don’t always agree with how you get your frustrations out, I feel where you’re coming from, even when you mask your emotions with autotune.  Through all of that, you’ve never ever stopped being you.  You are confident, smart, funny and arrogant–a grand mix of everything people love to hate, but hate to love.

Mr. West, you are the epitome of an artist. Someone who is fearless in what he/she says through art. You have been right and wrong, out of the box and I’d even say petty at times, but you stand by what you believe in. You change and then you stay the same all at once.  That’s why your music will always be in constant rotation wherever I am. It’s been the soundtrack to my adult life so far, and I’m looking forward to more growth, more mayhem, more life through your music. I don’t care that you don’t rap about driving raggedy cars or trying to come  up in the rap game as much anymore because with you, you never what you’re gonna get, and that’s the beauty of it.

Happy birthday Kanye!

Luxury Rappers and Why We Pay to Hear Them Tell Us They’re Rich

“F*ck talking about the recession, the sh*t’s depressing.”

-Jay-Z, Jocking Jay-Z

In the mid-90s, rap took an interesting turn. Artists stopped dropping knowledge and screaming, “Fuck the police” to talk about their designer threads, beautiful women and expensive libations. Many would say it was Biggie who made it possible for rap to evolve from rugged to stuntastic. Donning tailored suits, he made it okay for rhymers to live the good life with no apologies. Later, in 1996, Jay-Z released the video for “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” which I consider the ultimate in stunting. His persona then, a cross between an Italian gangster and Big Daddy Kane (an apparent mentor), again set the standard for men to drop the Tims and pick up three-pieces while enjoying the best of the best.

Since then, rap has been consumed with…consumerism. The majority of rappers’ songs composed of talks of clothes, Italian designers some people still can’t pronounce, elaborate homes and private jets. For years I couldn’t put my finger on what to call it until Mr. West labeled it a “luxury rap,” on “Otis,” the second single from his collaboration project with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne. If those two know about anything, it’s definitely luxury. Carter and West made Forbes’ 2011 Cash Kings list coming in at #1 ($37 million) and #3 ($16 million) respectively.

Amid the buzz on social media networks and media outlets about the iconic album, there was a heavy debate over why fans pay their hard-earned money to hear rappers tell them they have more money and possibly live better lives.  Billboard.com reports that the Watch the Throne will sell 500,000 units its first week of release. Rappers like these will always share their lives of great fortune, and we’ll always listen. Here’s why:

Fans need an escape.

Chances are if you’re struggling, living paycheck to paycheck, the closest you’re going to get to million dollar vacations is listening to Jay-Z tell you about it—atleast for a little while. If I’m broke, no way I’m paying to hear someone tell me about a struggle I know firsthand.  I live that daily for free. When I press play, I can imagine and dream (as long as I don’t do it too much), and just maybe those lyrics can inspire to have things too.

What else are they gonna talk about?

Hold your horses. There is a myriad of issues to rap about other than Ace of Spades and platinum watches, like the stock market fiasco or the London Riots. You’ve just got to find a rapper who does that. My point is, every rapper, if they are established, has a niche or a subject matter that they rarely deviate from (unless a natural disaster happens). In “Jocking Jay-Z,” he says, “Haters like, ’Hov why you still talking money shit?’/Cuz I like money, bitch!”  Clearly, they rap about what they like.

Sure, they can reflect on the times past before the money, and they do. In fact, West’s career was fueled by raps about his struggle before he made it big as a producer. He shared his experiences as only he could in his Bonnie & Clyde freestyle, “I mean my credit was so pathetic, I couldn’t get a debit/I’d fill out for a car, but shit, they’d always debt it/My girl come over tryna help me shine/how you gon’ help me get a car/your credit’s worser than mine…..Matter of fact, we broke as fuck. Those lyrics are sweet because there’s always someone who can relate, but that’s also why telling stories of fame and fortune are even sweeter. The struggle is why they have to talk about the come-up.

If I want conscious rap, I listen to Talib Kweli or Lupe Fiasco; If I want emotional rap, I go to Drake; If I want to be screamed at and lectured on the hood, I listen to DJ Khaled, and so on. Thus, if I want to hear about leer jets and such, I turn on Ye, Jay or Ross. Who gon’ stop me?

In rap, stunting is nothing new.

Listen to any freestyle rap from the 80s, and there’s cockiness. There’s talk about who got what, from the flyest girls to the best clothes and the hottest rhymes. Consider luxury rap that on steroids. After nearly 20 years of bragging and shutting opponents down, I doubt it stops anytime soon. By now, we may be a bit bored by it, but we can’t say we aren’t used to it.