Interesting thing I happened to happen on the interweb the other day, the rarest of rarities, a Kanye West interview! Every once in a while The Chosen One decides to bless us, the simpletons, with a glimpse into his vision and the innermost workings of his mind and how great of a human being, if not god he is. He came on the Zane Lowe show on BBC radio whose visuals come to us in a three part video on YouTube.
Like a lot of people it got me thinking about certain things, which of course ill point out below. It reminded me of this Pharrell Williams interview with Diggy Simmons for k!dult, cuts which I heavily used for the Rest and Recuperation #RandR mix.
With his usual loud, brash, animated and highly passionate declarations of greatness and pleads for understanding, he once again tried to articulate himself. As usual, I was caught up in a whirlwind of thought after he spoke.
CAUTION: This article consists of so many selfish plugs on my part. Apologies.
Firstly, lets start off with the trappings of fame and influence. I think of you garner public attention on a large scale, amass a following and then begin to sway public opinion on issues that affect them then you automatically become a target or persona non grata to the status quo. The status quo is dictated by large corporations that spend millions year in and year out programming people how to live and think.
We all know their tactics; they do all this through:
- Advertising convincing you which product is good for you.
- Television programmes that tell you which lifestyle is considered lavish so you spend more than you have or buy things you don’t need.
- Bogus or engineered infections that bank on paranoia and drive up sales of pharmaceuticals.
- Conjuring up and orchestrating disasters that will drive up sales of certain “doomsday” products and eventually riling up citizens for change of bills to benefit these corporations.
But it’s just conspiracy theories right? Who cares!
Yeah, respect my trendsetting abilities. Once that happens, everyone wins. The world wins; fresh kids win; creatives win; the company wins. – Kanye West
When I listened to him talk and also looking back at some interviews he did this year, I remember late rapper Tupac Shakur’s interviews also where he talked about progression as a whole. I imagine [I can only imagine right?!] when you’re rich and famous from music you get to a point where you don’t do it for the money at all and you start thinking about your legacy. You look at the multitude if fans worldwide and you start to actively put your efforts in to progressing these minds that are keen to idolise you. Hopefully unlike Pac he’ll be around to bring these to fruition.
[I fight] for what’s right. I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things. – Kanye West
Secondly, Kanye brought up radio play which has been one of those irksome things regardless of whether you’re an upcoming artist or already established. The criteria for which song gets on, the frequency it plays, chart movement etc is very unclear at times leading to a lot of frustration [one of the many hilarious YouTube comments by the way]. Coupled with the oversaturation of undeserving ‘talent’ getting playlisted has resulted in a new wave of artists who have decide to pull a finger to The Man and went the traditional route. They have sidelined the radio and use the internet to further their artistry. Getting back to basics by appealing to the streets and connecting with potential supporters on the ground is proving to be effective as well. The internet has become the canvas, the sampling plate as well as the stage for artists across the world by capitalizing on the need for the consumer to share their favourite things (music, art, pictures etc) with friends while profiting at the same time. Instead of camping out at a station for hours turning to days hoping your single can get played, you can upload it on various online platforms and have people give feedback in real-time. I can’t say that obliterates the need for radio but I would say its one leap that is necessary for artists. This is a new generation as seen in The Kids Are Alright mix.
Finally I think the most interesting thing that came from the interview is a black man’s place in society.
I made a song called I am a god and people said who does he think he is. I just told you what I think I am …if I had said I am a pimp or I am a nigga… – Kanye West
When I heard that, I was reminded of a line in “Gorgeous” from 2011’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, “What’s a black Beatle anyway, a fucking roach?” That was him speaking from a place of frustration where you’re always being looked at as second rate or lesser than everyone else because of the colour of his skin. This is in spite of the fact that he may be on the same tier pop culture wise or even higher. I think it may resonate with many people no matter if you’re a doctor, lawyer or whichever profession you’re still somehow made to feel inadequate. Some people say you can’t do or be certain things because you’re black. For those that do things that are not in the realm of blackness, whatever that is, words like coconut are used, meaning you’re black outside and white on the inside. Tragic. Black pop culture sets the tone for so many things, slang, style of dress, music and lifestyle and generally other people appropriate these and cash in on them. Let’s not forget rock and roll as a whole, blues and the new Miley Cyrus [sic]. Black people take credit for all that. What people fail to understand is words like coconut are just as hurtful as the N-word. Coming from a race that’s been and continues to be belittled and that frame of mind where you’re constantly told you can’t be or grow, you begin to assert yourself. You begin to be the source of your own motivation. Songs like “I Am A God” come from a place of frustration where you say to yourself “hey, I’m good at what I do, I’m the best, look at my works and treat me like I deserve.” I don’t think that’s a difficult thing to understand.