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?
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.