Kanye West has feelings. Were you aware of that? Have you heard that Kanye West feels certain ways about stuff? His opinions are loud, brash, and often couched in hyperbole. He claims that he is Steve Jobs, a god, and the biggest rock star on the planet. So, everytime we write about him, readers invariably head to the comments and wonder, Won't he ever just go away?
The short answer: no. The reason: Kanye is a ball of confusion, aggression, and a jumble of words, but within that amalgamation of WTF-ery, here's a man with an interesting voice who has captured a lot of respect, both from the industry and the radio. But, as a reporter who has followed Kanye ever since his jaw was wired shut, the rapper has been rather guarded about his press. Practically forgoing any sort of blitz for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and G.O.O.D Music, it seems like the bombastic performer has changed his tune for Yeezus, and is appearing everywhere. And, with a Kanye appearance, comes controversy. (Kan-trovers-ye? Sorry. Sorry, we take that back.)
On Power 105's The Breakfast Club morning show, host Charlamagne the God took Kanye to task about some of his beliefs, in a near cringe-inducing way. Kanye articulates that, in modern rap, rappers have stopped being violent and have begun working together in unprecedented ways. But, he also points out, no such collaboration happens in product or fashion branding. Which is when Charlamagne, who has known Kanye for years, points out that having a brand is one thing, but being a musician is another: "To me, it seems like you're such a walking contradiction, because you'll denounce the corporations, but then you'll get on stage and say you need Nike and Adidas to back you." Kanye's long-winded response? We are being enslaved by brands and programmed to think along certain lines. But, to borrow a sample that Kanye and Jay-Z used in their song, "N****s In Paris," "No one knows what it means...but it's provocative. It gets the people going."
What Kanye West is doing actually makes sense. In a media ruled by millennials, it's reasonable for any performer to think in terms of branding and identity. It clearly fascinates him. And, he brings up an excellent point: If companies want him to wear gear and attend parties, he should be included in the creative process. Becoming a part of the creative process is important to him, and he brings up a point that those who are "cashing in" don't look like him, and as such, black people are on the outside, looking in. He calls this concept "the new slavery," and points out that we all "think" we are free, but are not. But, Charlamagne brings up the ultimate foil: Slaves in the 1800s don't have a choice, and Kanye does.
The best part is when Charlamagne calls Kanye out for not being a revolutionary. "Why do you talk so much about money nowadays, man? I used to look at you as, like, a real revolutionary. You know, real revolutionaries didn't need money to change the world. Malcolm X wasn't rich. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't rich. Like, I don't understand why everything is so much about money and stuff to you."
Kanye's response: "Because you need product. You need to own something to have a voice at this point..."
Charlamagne: "You don't need to own something! You have a voice! When you got on stage and said George Bush don't care about black people, you were using your voice. You don't need money for a voice."
Kanye: "I can use my voice, but what happens if y'all don't buy no other albums. And, then people say you are like Arsenio Hall, and you were turning up too much and now you fired. But, when you got money, can't nobody fire you."
Charlamagne: "No, you know what makes me buy your albums? The great music you produce. You know what makes me not buy your albums? This new, narcissistic egotistical personality you got."
P.S. "Bound 2" is like The Hunger Games, Kanye says. Dear Reader — what do you think?