Kanye walks & speaks…Hard truth & reckoning
You may not care…
and this may not matter…
But it seems like this is a conversation
that should not die…
It isn’t life or death, but in an odd way,
it’s about life beyond death
The death of the way we should look at the world around us —
Kanye West always KILLED me.
“The College Dropout” was a watershed moment…
From the opening track, “We Don’t Care”, explaining in the simplest terms, higher hood values –“this dope money here is little Trey’s scholarship” —
to the cry for the fundamental need, not for spirituality per se, but for ANY substance in this world to believe in on “Jesus Walks” — “Dawg, radio needs this!” —
Kanye West was one of the first contemporary artists to get me to look beyond what was right in front of me and recognize a world I had no connection to and needed to understand.
He was bringing his reality straight in to my reality…all the differences, but even more importantly, the stark similarities.
Bravery, depth, humor and vulnerability… he poured it all out and it was like nothing else in pop music at the time…
He followed with “Late Registration,” where he made good on all the promises of his first record…
Polishing the sound and racheting up the conviction to the truth —
“Magic Johnson got the cure for AIDS and all the broke ma’f*ckers passing away,
you telling me if my grandma’s in the NBA, right now she would be ok?”
(he snarled in “Roses”) —
Brassy, ballsy, thought-provoking and true.
And then came “Graduation,” the first true confirmation of his dedication to craftsmanship and musical genius… sampling Laura Nyro and Daft Punk!… he brought a new generation of listeners to songs, sounds, artists they’d never find on their own.
Finally, he hit bottom and topped it all with “808s and Heartbreaks”
…the marrow in the bone…a look into the tortured soul of a man and his mistakes…
and especially a willingness to share it all with the people, his people…
Each record, in it’s own way, is a dagger to the soul.
I know he cut me — a preacher’s kid from Macon, Ga — wide open each and every time.
He’s had his entirely too public ups and downs:
platinum records, Grammys, run-ins with paparazzi,
the premature death of his mother, the woman who gave him the drive, the work ethic, the reason to strive
his infamous post-Katrina tirade on live television
(“George Bush does not like black people”)
which made white folks so uncomfortable, they missed the truth in this…
to the always entertaining and equally notorious awards shows dust-ups.
But through it all, the genius and the missteps…
One thing is always clear:
Kanye West speaks his TRUTH.
By now, everyone it seems, has heard or read his early morning Twitter diatribe.
He empties his soul on a range of issues…
I won’t get into his explanations or the ins and outs of all that he wrote.
You can read it all right here:
The courage and vulnerability that allows a man to lay bare his soul like that…
That’s why his music moves people.
That’s why his words inflame people.
And that’s why he will eventually redeem himself with and to the people.
Kanye West engenders such strong feelings, good and bad…
Because Kanye West truly BELIEVES every word that comes out of his mouth.
It is the truth, HIS truth…And he will live and die by it.
Whether it’s inspirational: “Keep your nose out the sky, keep your heart to God,
And keep your face to the rising sun”
Inflammatory: “You know the government administers AIDS”
Or hilariously arrogant: “I’m doing pretty good as far as geniuses go”
He believes. Every. Word.
And he is completely unashamed of showing us how much he believes it.
When did that become so wrong?
These are the trademarks of a great artist…the things that make art MATTER.
…The ability to see the bullshit all around us and having the GUTS to speak truth to power — as you see it.
Whether you love that or hate that…you have to respect the bravery.
Because those are virtues so desperately needed now…
Virtues that are DYING in 21st century America.
HERE’S THE QUESTION THAT REALLY MATTERS:
Why is everyone so pissed off at Kanye West?
Even President Obama called him a “jackass”.
But dismissing him as a clown misses the very powerful point.
Misguided at times? Maybe.
Petulant and narcissistic? Sure.
But this is someone who is willing to stand up for what he believes.
Kanye has the stones to stare the machine down and NOT flinch.
We live in a world where expression and personal truth is sublimated by money…power…fame.
And that kind of PASSION got lost somewhere along the way.
And thats the big problem with Kanye West.
We, as a society, have become so desensitized to the world around us that any type of passion… truth… vulnerability… is a full-on assault to our sensibilities.
We can’t handle DIRECT, UNFILTERED HONESTY.
We lash out the only way we know how:
Demonizing Kanye West.
And it worked.
He disappeared and everyone breathed easier.
But a guy like that believes… a soldier of conscience, he’s back.
They always come back.
And he’s at his most vulnerable and most compelling…
Bypassing the traditional means of communication and taking his SOUL directly to his fans and detractors alike.
Employing the same virtues that nearly got him crucified.
Determined to take those risks…
Because the truth MATTERS.
Let’s face it…these days, passion makes people uncomfortable.
The truth makes them uneasy.
Because once you know the truth, that means you have to face your OWN reality.
You have to deal.
Look… we don’t like the message.
It doesn’t make it a lie.
It means we need to WAKE UP… WAKE… UP.
Because this is the stuff that COULD bring us down.
The bait and switch reality of the message is something we as a culture have lost…
We’re too busy watching Paris’ latest bust, Gaga’s newest costume, the Kardashian family booty…
We are in dire times… opportunities are shrinking, inflation’s rising, the infrastructure’s imploding…
So, yeah, the truth is a threat — to the status quo.
And THIS is a guy who doesn’t care.
HE’S throwing it down.
And if we can impale him for being mean to a little country singer, where’s the stake in that?
And he sees that, too.
Which is part of the truth he’s now tweeting, taking it to the street, to the people…DIRECT.
I still believe in the power of the TRUTH.
I still believe in the power of one voice standing up and CHALLENGING the acceptance and apathy that is destroying us, one generation at a time.
So thank God for Kanye West.
At least someone is standing up and speaking what’s in his heart with passion…soul…and brutal honesty.
Even if sometimes it’s only about a Moon Man.