To know me is to understand that I’ve never had anything but the ultimate professional respect for Kanye West. He came into the game with a snot nosed, scrappy fire that defined his first three records; records that I would consider classics in terms of albums that actually mean something in hip hop.
Fast forward to Hurricane Katrina. Kanye paired with Mike Myers. Live cameras. Kanye feeling some type of way, and for good reason. Kanye informing the world that our president didn’t care that a natural disaster led to the death of many, many black people (and plenty of disadvantaged whites too, Mr. West). Let us not forget his Taylor Swift tantrum, which is still the most obnoxious of all his public blundering. Then the scraps with paparazzi. The leaked dick pics. The God complex. The skirts. The experimental noise record. The surprise duets with Sir Paul.
Kanye is an enigma, but one that’s not impossible to figure out. He’s famous in a time where fame is more important than the quality of the art you’re famous for. Problem is, his art is tremendously valuable when held against the heaps of worthless trash uploaded to the internet by the minute. His ear is constantly tuned to the sound directly behind the sound rattling your eardrum. He hears that next layer, and that’s what makes his work so necessary.
“Bound2” shuffled on during my drive home from NYC yesterday afternoon, and I couldn’t believe how fantastic it sounded when played at a thunderous level. Whether you can stomach his raps (and often I can’t), you cannot deny his tenacity as a songwriter. His work is jarring and oddly satisfying in separate, simultaneous worlds.
If his next record is entirely co-produced by McCartney, he’s managed to surprise me once again. If the music is something I can enjoy remains a mystery. But it’s impossible to imagine hip hop without him. I’m downloading Yeezus as we speak. For the first time since it’s release day, I’ll give it a go with an objective ear. Maybe I missed something two years ago, and some people are humble enough to admit it.