by Jacob McKay
I have never modeled myself after Kanye West. Has he been an inspiration for myself and countless others? Undeniable. Has he been controversial at times? Undebatable. Has he been plain stupid? Has he gone crazy? Something about Kanye’s public behavioral patterns can probably give us the longterm answer, and I’m leaning towards no. We’ll explore that in detail as the news has just come in that the remainder of the Saint Pablo tour has been cancelled. This is causing a lot of uproar on the internet, but the internet did by and large tell the guy to go packing after his inexplicable semi-endorsement of Trump and pleas for Jay-Z and Beyonce to talk to him and hopefully to let their kids play together. We’ll see which direction West heads next, but hopefully this doesn’t result in a child named South.
As a fan, Kanye has provided me with the best feelings that music can possibly provide. Yeezus Tour in 2013 was and still is the best night of my life. I realized the true power of music that night, to bring people together and to bring people above. Much like on the Saint Pablo tour, The Yeezus Tour featured a stage that moved up and down, but this one was attached to a literal fake mountain. There’s no way I can do the scene justice by attempting to decode it in words. Imagine being a huge Michael Jordan fan the day he hit the shot over Ehlo to beat Cleveland. Imagine being a huge LeBron James fan and you were in the second row for the Block in Golden State. For those of you who can’t sports reference, let’s say you really love Oprah and you’re on Oprah. That’s what it felt like. Every song bringing with it countless emotions and memories, not only my own but I could feel those of others in the crowd. I was new to concerts then, so I wasn’t expecting the amount of emotion. There was one guy in the crowd pretty much just yelling “I LOVE YOU KANYE! YEAH KANYE!” at all the quiet parts but his voice carried absurdly well for being in a stadium. I was in the second row for this one and I felt the crowd behind me as much as I heard them. At the end of the show, and I’ve told many people this, but Kanye and I made eye contact. I looked at him and pointed, and I’m real sure he couldn’t have been looking at anyone else’s face in response. I levitated that night. And before you write everything that I’m about to say off as mindless Kanye Fandom, understand how mad I am at this man for making me have to even entertain the thought that he might be clinically insane. And I mean we’re all a little crazy, but we can agree that Kanye has looked at the line and leaped over it almost at will. The Yeezus Tour
Kanye was pretty normal before the Taylor Swift VMA’s thing. I remember being a Middle Schooler, not even at peak Kanye Fandom yet, and I remember seeing the video clip of what had happened right after it happened. I kid you not, my first thought was,”Well yeah Beyonce should’ve won.” Then I realized this wasn’t some MTV concoction to boost ratings. It was just Kanye being Kanye after drinking what sources claim to be a bottle of Hennessy. That was when people thought he was crazy the second time. The “George Bush hates black people” line was too much for most of national television. This is in a time before memes were going viral within seconds. Do you think Kanye would have been eaten alive more or less now had he pulled the Taylor Swift stunt this year? The memes would be good enough to hopefully get whoever made one of them a college degree. But thankfully, that was then. “Imma let you finish..” became what you said every time you interjected somebody who might’ve been saying something important. Time went by and we grew up. Kanye grew up too, thankfully, and came back from his admitted error to release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. In terms of sheer technical brilliance and execution of a vision, I find that album to be almost second to none. He came back and he came ready and he shut everybody up for a while. It was back to the music, which is what Kanye is best at and what Kanye would’ve stuck to if he existed in the same mental confines as us. The MTV VMA’s. 2009.
Kanye and limits have never gone hand in hand that well, and the “You don’t have answers Sway” was the first taste that America had of the new, more pissed off, more marginalized, more Shakespearean Kanye. In every interview, he was the most outspoken critic for himself and his greatness. He literally said over and over again that he was the new Steve Jobs or Shakespeare or Warhol. He was constantly complaining about the fashion industry and it’s glass ceiling, which is a real thing. He also complained about artists who mastered one field not being taken seriously in another. Kanye with Sway Calloway on Sway In the Morning.
These are real, big complaints for Kanye in Kanye’s head. Kanye’s head doesn’t work like your head, or my head or anyone else’s head, and Kanye knows this better than anyone. That’s why he often makes news for stupid things like the Donald Trump comment or the Sway In the Morning outburst last year. This is what happens when ideas swirl around in an isolated head too much. They come out ugly, misconstrued, lacking refinement, or just plain wrong. I blame Kanye solely for having too many yes men in his life. If I were one of Kanye’s friends right now, (looking at you Don C, Ibn Jasper, Pusha, even Kim), I would probably tell him to calm down and shut up because nobody knows what I’m saying again. We could sit here and speculate that these long rants are drug fueled, or maybe a symptom of fatigue or some mental illness. All of the above would explain the cancellation of the tour, which I’m happy about. Kanye didn’t need that mic every night at this point. Hopefully this means that Kanye’s friends got a good enough hold of him to take him out of the drivers seat. Kanye hasn’t gone crazy. He’s always been crazy, but his passion is only beautiful when focused. Hopefully that’s what’s happening in the middle of this cancelled tour. Maybe, somewhere gestating, is that other album ‘Ye promised us for this year. I’d take that if he came out and said he didn’t mean what he said about Trump. Him and Kid Cudi hugging it out on stage told me a lot about the state of Kanye’s mental health at the moment. That show was only 3 songs long. He is mentally beat, and doesn’t really care how he looks. That’s pretty relatable, except when you’re an international mega star who’s mid tour. We forget what kind of a pedestal we put these people on. Kanye West only made a song called “I am A God”, because we enabled that thought. When you take a guy crazy enough to have unflappable levels of self belief, put him on a pedestal and tell him to “act normal” it won’t work. The minute he doesn’t get to do something he wants to do he is furious until it happens, because a God does what a God wants to do. A fan tries to climb on stage during this years’ Saint Pablo Tour stop in Atlanta.
Kanye is more than mortal, as is any human being imbued with flesh and blood. I am simply here to tell you that the patterns communicate that Kanye isn’t done yet, even though he’s 20 years older than me. We’re definitely on the verge of seeing the classic “Rapper turns 40, doesn’t know how to be 40” here. But I have faith that we get one more musical statement that makes stadiums full of people literally stand rapt as if they were in church. That is a power that Kanye hasn’t shown us he’s lost yet. And no matter what happens, you will listen. If you remember this article when that album comes out I will feel incredibly vindicated. Kanye has an inability to tell himself no that fuels his originality and creativity and passion. That is what we need to get back to talking about. That is the difference between him and every other producer from Chicago who thinks they can rap. He KNEW he could. I think we can all learn something from this frame of mind. I’ve never related to it more than I do now. I’m a college student, busy, drained, an emotional wreck, but I am deeply not worried. I KNOW I’m good. That knowing versus thinking could be the difference between winning and losing in this life. If I didn’t have this knowing feeling I would be stressing over the fact that I’m a black male journalism major in a declining industry who might make 30k after graduation if I do it the traditional way. But I’m not. Yeezy taught me not to be. Not the guy on stage ranting about loving Trump and being afraid of Jay-Z’s “killers”. The guy who told us that if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. The guy who had us all waiting until our money was right. The guy who made Jesus Walk in the club. The College Dropout whose life has become a Picasso. Dark parts, grotesque parts, but nonetheless a masterpiece.
Kanye connected to the harness that keeps him on his flying stage.