Why The Role of Artists Will Never Be Defined
Kanye is in creative wonderland, while others are in limbo
In a climate where Cardi B is deemed the best thing to ever happen since we thought the last thing that happened was the best thing — it’s fair to say that we’ve past the point of anything making sense.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not totally against the meteoric rise of the twenty-five-year-old rapper who was once a stripper — and is now the darling of the world because of the infectious way in which she displays her most “authentic” self — against the backdrop of beats and verses that quite honestly don’t resemble anything remotely close to prolific.
But — I do have to present a theory about her bedazzled status that is both unpopular and self-induced. I’m of the opinion that when you have acts like Green Day and icons like Denzel Washington — spewing out lyrics from the factory of Cardi B — there’s a very good chance that her season has very little to do with her prowess as a mighty talent — and more to do with our innate desire to feed our relevance through the tubes of random creations.
The Bronx-born hitmaker is not an artist — she’s a product that is easily definable by the times that birthed her into existence — with the same swiftness that will lead to her imminent extinction.
Kanye West is an artist. He can’t be defined and this fact is what drives so many to unsuccessfully charter his temperament based on the scraps that he provides for our turmoil.
When the Chicago-bred genius made his triumphant return to Twitter — it was understood that his presence would breed exactly what we’re currently internalizing. How could anyone ever expect that Kanye would refrain from littering his timeline with calculated gems — that are meant to inspire ire and loads of “SMDH” with hashtags that range from #sunkenplace to #getout.
The memes are extravagantly personal as users wasted no time or energy generating exactly how they feel about someone they thought or wished they knew well enough to anticipate these random attacks — that seem to prove how misguided they were with their loyalty.
But — what if we consider what it truly means to be an artist in a world that isn’t under the spell of Klout scores or the symphony of the maddening crowd that won’t rest until the latest high-profile rebel is forever “canceled.”
When Kanye West became Kanye over a decade ago — his discovery was heralded with the similar trumpets of industry observers and the general greeting that ushers in the forecasted trajectory of how Jay-Z’s “anointed one” will thrive — under the guidance of an older brother and eager-minded fans who were ready to bestow never-ending praises and downloads.
The spotlight heats up to infinity and for those who seek the crown of fame for the allure of power and endorsements — the intense glare is justifiably validating and dangerously comforting. There are very few people on the planet who can reject the symbol of greatness — based on the inner struggle to protect the roots of creativity — that can be threatened or destroyed beyond repair by the consistent reminder of the outstanding debt to those who are paying your way.
Lauryn Hill used the pinnacle of her gold-plated success as the gateway to her decision not to release a follow up to her spectacular first outing as a solo act — The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. And despite the Grammy awards — and the litany of accolades that could last a lifetime — there was no way to coerce this artist into flexing outside her school of thought — for the pleasure of more fame and fortune.
“She just felt uninspired.” “This is a woman who has to feel inspired to create.”
According to fellow Fugees member and friend — Pras — Lauryn Hill is an artist who isn’t motivated by money or the disappointment from fans and industry types who make yearly predictions about when the next album will drop — while also supplying impressively curated pieces that aim to dissect why a bonafide superstar weirdly decided to do things her way.
The mind of an artist is a complex web of plots and subplots that are constantly being revised — and this nature of the beast isn’t an exercise that can be mutually inclusive. Not very many people can comprehend or salute the inexplicable reasoning behind some of the great minds of our time — and that’s probably why they’re so great — and not at all mediocre in their pursuits.
It also explains why the space they reside in — isn’t transferrable or easy to translate.
Just as it was and still is infuriating to witness Lauryn Hill’s stubborn streak — it’s also been unbearable to watch Kanye step out of character — for the sake of aligning himself with the First Family of Reality TV and Trash Culture — by marrying a woman who is the epitome of what it means to be revered based on the sickening boredom and laziness of gawkers.
One can’t help but accept that Kanye’s alliance with The Kardashians is punishment for the way in which they’ve been feted for over a decade. How can the legendary disdain for their existence — also lead to a massive empire and global dominion all at the same time?
He realizes the irony in both the adulation and celebrated ridicule and it’s too hard to resist. There’s also the fascination with public opinion and how it plays out in unexpectedly refreshing ways. If these people can become phenoms based on the varied taste buds of a population — this proves that nothing is off limits — and for an artist that’s not just energizing — it’s also incredibly inspiring.
Kanye isn’t a “half-assed”exhibitor. He doesn’t second-guess his thought process or examine the weight of the consequences of what he’s about to shit out — even if the odor is epically revolting. He’s driven by the insatiable need to be the author of his undoing or un-staged victory. He can’t be challenged because his vices remain secure and valiantly unweathered.
Check out the evidence in this priceless interview from back in the day that perfectly depicts a young man on the verge of major stardom — who still firmly promises that he’s not the one to “jump off a bridge” due to the pressure from those who wrongly assume a familiarity that is tragically deceitful.
Kanye is presently benefiting from his residence in creative wonderland. It’s a place that permits him to experiment like the selfish and possessive personalities that make up the epicenter of true creators T— who are not only self-absorbed prophets — but also tend to massage their interests without consideration or apologies.
Yes — it’s quite naive and unrealistic to believe that we — as fans — have a stake in Kanye’s revolving tendencies — simply because of the years invested and the personalized image of what he’s supposed to live up to — even when he’s never deviated from his truth.
No — it’s not okay to stay silent and allow a beloved legend to slip away to the realm of incoherency — as he manages a fan fest with a White supremacist president and his following of bigots. Even I can’t accommodate this furious storm of ugly disruption with pics and tweets to boot — without the temptation to forgo clinging to my human need to care deeply — by readily dismissing my idol with no possibility of parole.
The good news is that Kanye West isn’t my idol because he never was. His role in my life has been purely based on my ability to view and respect him for his vibrant artistry — nothing more — nothing less.
The very things I admire also breed distrust and mental disorganization amongst those who’ve forgotten the process of self-evaluation — that stems from the freedom of re-defining what you always thought was true about you’re preferred default.
Kanye West doesn’t hate Black people just because he’s ceremoniously exploring his feelings for Donald Trump or mishandling our buzz words to possibly shame our activism — or putting up an act to test whether or not we’ve earned his latest track. He’s merely activating his right to make comfortable people — uncomfortable — by forcing the unfamiliar re-routing of presently rigid rules that don’t permit healthy deviations.
It’s risky and even offensive — and while I wouldn’t have the audacity to tread anywhere near that territory — I can’t deny my appreciation for an artist who refuses to be defined in an era where detractors expend more than we can fathom — for the end result of brutally destroying upstanding citizens who committed the unforgivable sin of self-expression during a time when such a thing was legal.
Kanye was always Kanye before we figured out the disappointment of knowing why he will never let us know who he really is. He’s using us to find out and while that sucks ass — it’s also boldly progressive.
And while Bodak Yellow drums in my ear at the back seat of my Uber — all I can think about is how All of the Lights will lead me Through the Wire — from the Monster of the moment.