The first time I felt smitten with Kanye West was in 2003. I was a freshman in high school, MTV was still playing music videos and lo and behold, the video for “Slow Jamz” by Twista came on. Ye graced the screen, flirting with the video’s lead girl, Aisha Tyler, talking all that “I’ma bring the cool whip, then I want you to strip…”
And I was all like:
And then if that wasn’t enough, the Chi-town native proceeded to woo me with actual substance with his feature on Dilated Peoples’ “This Way.” He was a breath of fresh air; somewhat conscious, but still with a dabble of Chicago swag in him. College Dropout dropped, followed by Late Registration, Graduation, and 808’s & Heartbreaks and album after album, I was enamored with all of it. The first three of what I listed perfectly tapped into his human contradiction: feelings of stuntin’ with the ultimate confidence and wanting the whole world to revel in your awesome-ness, but at the same time, he had raw reflective expressions of self-consciousness. And they illustrated a sense of knowing our mommas taught us better than that and acknowledging there are way bigger suppressing problems in the world. Simply, they were relatable for me. As for 808’s & Heartbreaks... I will debate with anyone that is the perfect soundtrack for a grieving lover.
I felt all of it was what hip-hop needed. But following up, somewhere between his fixation for models, Givenchy and Paris, things changed between me and Kanye. I lost my connection with Yeezy. Yeah, he has released some sonically great music since. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Watch The Throne, and Yeezus, but as a 20-something from Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY who has juggled college, work and is just way far from the world ‘Ye has been discussing, what interest do I have in hearing about clothes I can’t afford and A-list models I can’t have personal access to?!
I KNOW artists evolve, I get it – but the sight of the relatable pink polo-wearing, Louis book bag guy that originally grasped me was fading. The Kanye West I’ve come to know today perplexes me like no artist ever has.
I can’t decide if he’s a misunderstood passionate “genius,” or a man-baby looking for approval. As much he attempts to exhibit ultra-confidence, it seems as though ’Ye craves acceptance and approval. I often wonder if it comes from a root of insecurity or an honest frustration with society. Or maybe it’s all of the above? See, I’m confused. I even turn to myself and wonder perhaps I’m being simple-minded and basic in my thinking. Maybe Kanye is trying to open our minds up to new ways but lately, especially after the Jimmy Kimmel debacle, ‘Ye and all his rants just leave me like:
Many times he has such valid points. He does speak truths, but who wants to listen to you when it’s wrapped in such hostility? That is where I’m turned off by Kanye even more. But then in the midst of my withdrawal, moments like The Breakfast Club interview this morning happen and I’m drawn in again.
‘Ye admitted that his approach is too aggressive and that he’s learning, trying to take cues from his big brother Hov on being more personable. How can I reject another human still learning? We’re all a work in progress. The most outstanding part of the whole interview to me was when Charlamagne challenged ‘Ye on caring too much about corporations and being materialistic. What does it really have to do with being revolutionary? And after all the ranting, all the child-like tantrums, here is where I finally feel Kanye!
Breaking into these corporations is revolutionary. According to the documents, we all have equal rights. But that’s just what the papers say. Has the “equality” truly been implemented over all spectrums? No. The reality is, like Kanye says, “there are only 7 black billionaires” and as I may point out, we’re in a world where things like The Best Man Holiday are being described by publications as “race-themed.” Everybody doesn’t have to want to be a billionaire, an innovative, a creative, a Ralph Lauren, BUT there shouldn’t be any barriers that stop us from it. He has a point!
With that said, I am deciding today that I don’t always have to like Kanye or denounce Kanye. There’s no black and white when it comes to that man, and I actually think that’s what he’d prefer. So Kanye, I appreciate you and all your efforts. I appreciate your voice because it’s better than no voice at all. I appreciate that you make us wake up and at least think about what is happening around us, rather than sitting back and being content.
Evanka Williamson is the Weekend Editor for GlobalGrind.com Follow her on twitter, @LOVEvanka