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Closing Remarks of a Reformed Kanye Apologist

EditorialSean McHughComment

I have been an ardent Kanye apologist for quite some time.

I would assert that Kanye’s production prowess transcended the confines of genre – from the formative days of College Dropout to the unmercifully avant-garde Yeezus  - in absolute awe of Kanye’s “scorched earth” approach to his craft.

I maintained Kanye’s status as the All-Father of modern hip-hop, his discography a compendium of templates to guide those who choose to emulate the various iterations of Kanye’s career.

I blindly ascribed the successes of Chance the Rapper, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, Travi$ Scott, Lupe Fiasco, Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, Big Sean, and Mr. Hudson to the omnipresent influence of Kanye West.

885.80 miles of America lie between Nashville and New York City, but I still managed to witness the live simulcast premiere of “Yeezy Season 3” at Madison Square Garden.

I considered him an indomitable ideologue that had eclipsed culture. While I have never even remotely considered purchasing any of the exorbitant pieces from his “Yeezy Season” trilogy (not out of sartorial revulsion, but out of financial prudence), I couldn’t help but applaud Kanye’s penchant for minimalism.

I was moonstruck by the impromptu nature of Kanye’s combination fashion show/album listening party for The Life of Pablo, and admired the magnanimous charity of Kanye whilst “passing the aux” to the likes of Young Thug and Vic Mensa in front of 20 million people.

I had unwavering faith that the release of The Life of Pablo would see Kanye silence his most ferocious critics, all the while summiting the zenith of the zeitgeist as the greatest popular artist of the new millennium.

I would treat Kanye’s exploits as supreme acts of a self-aware caricature; a master class so inscrutable, even the most astute of human behavior experts would remain confounded.

I was confident that upon the inevitable disclosure that Kanye’s much-maligned escapades were nothing more than performance art, his histrionics would become a bastion of artistic sovereignty

I was under the impression that those who bemoaned Kanye’s musings were simply out of touch and unfit for such brilliant satire.

It is because of the aforementioned defenses of Kanye that I write this article with a heavy heart, having come to terms with an objectionable truth – I must relinquish my title as a Kanye apologist.

The past month and a half of Kanye’s ubiquity has withered me to a troubling perspective of self-examination. The events surrounding The Life of Pablo have been an all-out media onslaught so pervasive that it has led me to falter in my continued support of Kanye.

I do my best to remain objective in most matters – maintaining an emphasis on universal understanding rather than blind faith – but Kanye’s recent behavior has led me to a fan’s introspective crises as opposed the usual eye roll and “I’m sure Kanye knows what he’s doing,” when he interrupts someone to perform a soliloquy at the VMAs, or when confronted with the realities of whom he chooses to share him name.

Now don't get me wrong, I am most certainly not about to come the defense of Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian – I am of the opinion that Taylor Swift has a scandal lying dormant to the public eye capable of reaching Peyton Manning-sized proportions; and Kim, well, I couldn’t tell you much about her, but neither could she – but what many consider to be two more incendiary moments in Kanye’s career, I merely regard as mischievous self-expression, along with most other dubious actions throughout the years.

Kanye was nothing more than the occasional superstar scamp in my mind, so I continued to defend his behavior, chastised for such a decision on only a handful of occasions.

Somewhere down the line, however – sometime around the beginning of 2016 -, my spirited Kanye fandom became combative amongst some of my contemporaries. Where my delight in all things Kanye had once been nothing more than an exercise of personal taste, it had suddenly become an affront to other people’s existence; as if to insinuate I share the same outlooks as a mercurial music superstar. Kanye had suddenly become a combative subject, even if the discourse was purely superficial. But nonetheless, groups of people inherently abhorred anyone who even remotely enjoyed any aspect of Kanye.

And it was in that moment I realized just how silly all of the controversy of Kanye really was. Granted, there were technical aspects surrounding The Life of Pablo that were less than stellar (looking at you, Tidal), but getting caught up in who Kanye thinks owes him their career?

Who cares?

It’s a song for crying out loud.

If there are songs on The Life of Pablo some might find detestable, then those who have such an inclination would be best served not listening. Why look for something to gripe about when we’re all better off focusing on things that have more personal appeal?

If Kanye’s behavior places such displeasure in your life, why bother spewing vitriolic epithets and the like when its so much easier to place your focus on someone or something else?

Ultimately, the World of Kanye is an exercise in futlity - whether you’re an avid disciple (such as myself) or one of his biggest detractors. Kanye is going to do what Kanye wants to do, and there’s no way around it. He is a self-fulfilling prophecy that continues to adapt and create, providing some with great joy, and others great irritation.

Its for these exact reasons that I rest my final defense of Kanye, and relegate myself from Kanye apologist to Kanye aficionado. 

But before I go, I just wanted people to recognize that Beyonce really did have the one of the best music videos of all time.

You can read our full The Life of Pablo album review here and "Kanye's Original The Life of Pablo Tracklist Analyzed in Three Acts by @NathanZed & @jonnysun" here.

Kanye's Original 'The Life of Pablo' Tracklist Analyzed in Three Acts by @NathanZed & @jonnysun

EditorialTransverso MediaComment

This is a guest post from @NathanZed and @jonnysun analyzing Kanye's original The Life of Pablo tracklist.


"LOW LIGHTS" (Added Track) - Starts off with “I want to tell you a testimony about my life." This album, The Life of Pablo, is the testimony. See this as the introduction framing the entire album as Kanye’s testimony about his life. 


ACT 1 is Kanye on a crazy high off his fame, with excessive sex, drugs, money, and big egos. All the tracks from "Famous" to "Highlights" are upbeat and mostly bangers, indicating that he’s having the time of his life.

"FAMOUS" - He shows off his braggadocio side on "Famous." The very first verse shows how petty he is when it comes to fame with the infamous Taylor Swift line, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous."
"FATHER STRETCH MY HANDS Pt. 1 / Pt. 2" - The line “I just wanna feel liberated” is mixed between lines describing excessive sex and drugs. Like that… ”bleached asshole” line…

"WAVES" - Lyrics describing his excessive ego, “Step up in this bitch like / I’m the one your bitch like / Yeah I’m the one your bitch like / And I be talkin' shit like / I ain’t scared to lose a fistfight / And she grabbin’ on my dick like / She wanna see if it’ll fit right / That’s just the wave”

"HIGHLIGHTS" - This is the highest point that Kanye is at, ending the song with “I need every bad bitch up in Equinox / I need to know right now if you a freak or not.”
"FEEDBACK" (Added Track) - The first track with a beat that sounds more distorted and less straight forward. Lyrics describe an obsession with money, “Wake up nigga wake up / We bout to get this paper," “I’ve been outta my mind, a long time." This transitions into Act 2.


ACT 2 is him coming down from the high and waking up, having a moment of clarity, and realizing for the first time what his life has become. 

"FREESTYLE 4" (Added Track) - Starts off with nightmarish production. This is the craziest that Kanye's high gets, and he’s mumbling through the track talking about sex. The end of the track you hear him “waking up."
"30 HOURS" - Kanye waking up from this nightmare / his high and having a moment of clarity. First lines are,
“I wake up assessin’ the damages / Checkin’ media takeout / Pictures of me drunk walkin’ out with a bitch / But it’s blurry enough to get the fakeout"

"NO MORE PARTIES IN LA" - He’s realizing for the first time what his life has become. He begs “please baby no more parties in LA”.
"FADE" - The lyrics speak from themselves, “Your love is fadin’ / I feel it’s fadin’ / When no one ain’t around / I feel it’s fadin' / I think I think too much / Ain’t nobody watchin'" Towards the end, the gospel song “I Get Lifted” is sampled, presenting more gospel themes.


ACT 3 is Kanye then renouncing this life, & turning to God and religion for redemption.

"FML (For My Lady)" - A story of the difficulties Kanye faces as he tries to control himself and stay truthful to his wife, Kim.
"REAL FRIENDS" - A look at Kanye’s relationship struggles with his friends and family, which he blames himself for in certain lyrics.
"WOLVES" - He compares himself and Kim to Mary and Joseph, presenting more biblical themes. Ends with Frank's verse, “Life is precious / We found out, we found out"
"ULTRALIGHT BEAM" - Kanye finally turns to God and religion for redemption. Kanye revealed in his tweets that the “Pablo” in the title is not Picasso or Escobar (or at least not only them), but rather “PAUL” from the bible.

According to his tweets,

Before Paul became who he was, he was “Saul”, a sinner and someone who was persecuting God. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” (Acts 9:1)

In "Ultralight Beam," Kanye becomes redeemed for his sins across the album.  Take “The addict’s moment of clarity and redemption” and mirror that as a contemporary modern day version of "Saul the sinner turning into Paul." The song then ends with a prayer from Kirk Franklin, perhaps for anyone who can relate to the struggle shown in this album.

You can read our full The Life of Pablo album review here and "Closing Remarks of a Reformed Kanye Apologist" here.