Welcome to the crazy life
We all knew Kanye West walked on the edge of sanity; there is no denying that. There was however a time – long buried into the annals of good music alongside ‘90s hip-hop and turn of the century R&B and probably barely even discovered by the millennials – he made good music. Who can forget his breakthrough album The College Dropout back in 2003, way before he began producing automated nonsense?
Kanye showed the first spark of madness, in my humble opinion, when he took to the mic during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards while Taylor Swift was accepting her award for Best Female Video for “You Belong with Me”, West went on stage and grabbed the microphone to proclaim that Beyoncé’s video for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, nominated for the same award, was “one of the best videos of all time”.In as much as I have never been a fan of Taylor Swift, I felt for her. In his infinite wisdom, the then President of USA, Barack Obama called it before anyone else did: by calling Kanye a “jackass”.
“Everybody wanna booooo me but I’m a fan of real pop culture… I’m not crazy y’all, I’m just real,” he posted in a tweet soon after. The gent doth protest too much, perhaps? After a multitude of apologies, the same man, in an interview with a Minnesota radio station, seemed to recant his past apologies by attempting to describe the act at the awards show as “selfless” and downgrade the perception of disrespect it created.
Kanye’s award show antics sadly didn’t end there. Six years on, at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in 2015, West walked on stage as Beck was accepting his award for Album of the Year and then walked off stage. After the awards show, West stated in an interview that he was not joking and that “Beck needs to respect artistry, he should have given his award to Beyoncé”. The sort of obsessive hero worship that should make Mr and Mrs Carter up their security detail, methinks.
The cherry on top came during the MTV Video Music Awards later in 2015, when after a 20-minute rant, a dazed Kanye announced, “I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” The following year soon before abruptly ending a concert prematurely, he said, “Jay-Z—call me, bruh. You still ain’t called me. Jay-Z, I know you got killers. Please don’t send them at my head. Please call me. Talk to me like a man.”Aside from dazed ramblings and presidential bids, starlet heckling, questionable obsession with Bey and Jay, over the years, Kanye has made many questionable decisions and statements.
This is a man who has been known to compare himself to various influential figures and entities in art and culture, including Steve Jobs, Socrates, Walt Disney, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, to name a few.
The man who in 2008 said he will go down in history as “the voice of this generation”, the man who in 2016 tweeted seemingly asserting Bill Cosby’s innocence in the wake of over 50 women making allegations of sexual assault directed at Cosby, the man who most recently posted a picture wearing a Make America Great Again hat alongside a series of tweets defending President Trump.
His latest act birthed by boundless ignorance and unbridled narcissism is the incredibly ludicrous statement, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice” – a statement since slammed by a multitude of historians and celebrities as “uninformed” “uneducated” and an embarrassment. Civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, wrote, “Kanye’s rhetoric continues to fuel the racist right-wing folks who believe that black people are responsible for their oppression.”
One of the lone voices coming to his defence was rapper The Game. Calling Kanye “a genius”. He wrote: “People who’ve never achieved greatness are not allowed to question it.”
There is a fine line between genius and insanity, and in my opinion, Kanye has long ago crossed that line. Some claim he hasn’t been stable since the death of his mother Donda West in 2007; others blame the case of the crazies on his marriage into the circus that is Kar-crashian family.
Whatever the reason, we cannot condone mad ramblings as a sign of genius when they become harmful to society. There is only so long we can infantilise the genius artist who can do no wrong and get away with blue murder because of the greatness of their art. As the adage goes, as much as one’s right to swing their fist ends where another’s nose begins, likewise, someone’s right to wield their “free thought” should end when someone else’s identity, integrity or heritage are attacked.
Kanye has built a career on what was once good music and a heap of controversy. As the music depreciates, he has ramped up the crazy, whether it is insane presidential bids, idiotic Beyoncé worship or inane Trump admiration. If indeed he is using controversy once again to shift sales when he drops new music, to blame an entire race for the oppression they have suffered when that race is the major target market seems far more ridiculous than the whole sum of all his former folly combined. Unless of course he is due to release a country album.
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