kanye west doesn’t care about people

reviewer’s note: i’ve been taking notes for a review of ‘yeezus.’
i initially wanted to write anonymously but after reading this buzzfeed article about kanye
i don’t think i want to review it at all
but i decided if i’m going to, i want ppl aware it was me who wrote these things
i felt affected by a conclusion i drew re: the source data/quotes/ideas provided in the article
combined with the description (and the following, extremely revealing, extensive one-sided conversation by kanye) in this article about one of kanye’s twitter rants last year
the conclusion doesn’t necessarily reflect either my opinion on kanye
or the idea the author of the former was trying to convey about ‘culture’,
but rather is about, i think, my experience of rarely ever
having felt encouraged to ‘do what i want’
and deriving feelings of having done ‘what’s right’
when a person with perceivably more ‘power’ than me has approved of my actions
these are thoughts the album caused me to confront
— stephen michael mcdowell

this album could have been called

‘my minimal dark twisted bachelor party’

kanye west is ostensibly marrying (or already has, idk) kim kardashian

kim kardashian is an armenian-scottish-dutch american pop culture ‘icon’

between the two of them i think there are an unparalleled amalgam of stereotypes and cultural taboos they both actively play into, that, since their rise to fame, have become norms, but that people who are resistant to them confront them about, which has neither dissuaded their lifestyles nor affected their success as artists

they both have an audience, because of kanye’s widespread music success and kim’s basic cable reality TV show, publicly accessible sextape, and extensive personal branding, that spans the wealth divide


over the course of his career, kanye hasn’t diverged from his subject matter—himself—at all

however, the perspective he speaks from seems like he is, despite his success ‘speaking for’ [someone]

i feel consistently unsure of who that [someone] is, but there is a typical instance, culturally, of the ‘victimized’, money-obsessive urban youth (want to qualify ‘urban’ as specifically living inside a city with 600,000+ people assembled into extreme, aggressively compact living conditions, but from kanye’s experience, chicago), a persona, which kanye consistently employs

‘yeezus’ is not a departure from this

if anything ‘yeezus’ is an amplified—by time and tragedy and self-education—and severely internalized version of this perspective

it is, then, clearly an artifice, a performance, it’s him, doing these things, they’re from his brain, but the words he chooses are with sole interest in appealing to this demographic of ‘society’

however, because the ideas are hyper-self-oriented, this music also seems to appeal to the hyper-self-oriented, as an example of what someone who is self-obsessed and interested in monetary prowess and power can ‘achieve’


feel distinct aversion to the political and ‘sexist’, racial, and ‘political’ elements of this album

feel like… maybe… this is the penultimate rap album

like… death of a genre… lol…


the tropes kanye employs are all rap-typical, despite his awareness of the multiplicitous philosophical and political ideologies he has—through the high-brow references he has used—uh… i’ll just cite ‘nietzsche’ and leave it at that

regardless of his actual position on these things, as has been shown through the ‘rapper personae’ of many artists, OFWGKTA, for example, despite their publicly shy, enthused, and, for the most part—if not in a public power struggle—polite demeanor, his use of these ideas is an appeal to people who likely, concretely view other people (ni**as, b*tches, hoes, police, the government, religious officials, people of different complexions) as hyper-real and consistently shifting glorified and demonized archetypes and role models

as the conceptual ‘role model’ and self-appointed representative of this perspective kanye has made himself subject to the expectations of fans in a way that may have conceptually ‘trapped’ him under the label ‘rapper’

as such, previous, less-rap oriented pursuits, combined with the digitalization and easy access to pirated music… saw a decline in… uh… well…

(via wikipedia)

college dropout (3.1 million) in the US (4 million internationally)

first week 441,000

late registration (3.1 million)

first week 860,000

graduation (2.7 million US)

first week 957,000

808s & heartbreak (1.7 million US)

first week 450,145

mbdtf (1.3 million US)

first week 496,000

yeezus (????)

first week 327,000

i think he’s trying to, while still ‘innovating’ sonically, ‘return to his conceptual and rhetorical ‘roots” or something


Carl Bjorklund / Shutterstock.com
Carl Bjorklund / Shutterstock.com

one thing i mentioned to a friend

since pretty much everyone i know or know of and/or can think of is aware of this album

is that i think it’s musically ‘sound’…

from the perspective of, like, ancient history, this album is like…

‘the built-to-backfire lightning bolt hephaestus made for jupiter on the eve of his wedding to venus, and the birth of cupid, the night of the lightning storm that set rome ablaze’ or something

as an eponymous ‘f**k you’ to the ‘established, white, heresy-sensitive, judeo-christian majority’ or something, this album, and its success represent an interesting shift in what, hypothetically, is ‘acceptable’ from an artist


i don’t like this album


the didactic ‘empowerment scheme’ i derive as its intent seems misguided

people listening loudly to, discussing and dissecting this album will result in

1. [probably nothing], possibly intense racial derision

2. a lot more ‘bleep’-sounds on the radio than normal maybe

i view this ‘thing’ as kanye returning to some inception point

a summation/completion of his expressed goals when he became a rapper


want to attempt to assert that i don’t view this album in a reductive manner

i feel aware of the aesthetic ‘space’ it occupies in ppl’s minds

i don’t feel aversion to it as conceptual filler, because the music is well-assembled

i feel aversion to the socio-political and religious ideas it could, and probably will, perpetuate and augment


keep thinking about christmas a decade ago when my grandparents gave me a bunch of CDs of famous black actors reading the bible

keep thinking about how in college i thought something like ‘finally, black kids and white kids can just f**king hang out and not expressly care about stereotypes’

keep thinking about when ‘OFWGKTA’ came out and i thought ‘this is an interesting development’

keep thinking about the reasons these things seem shocking to anyone

ultimately conclude that it’s simply because people don’t view people as people

they view people as signifiers


my friends who like ‘yeezus’ view kanye as an artistic signifier for performance


my neighbors who like ‘yeezus’ view kanye as a signifier for how to behave toward white ppl, because they view white ppl as a threat


my parents, as christians and ‘proud americans’ view kanye as a derisive signifier of ‘what is wrong with america, and ultimately, ‘black people” in that it encourages alienating the ‘pious’ and rich


s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

kanye views ‘yeezus’ as [????] and himself as [????]


so the conclusions drawn about how or why this album is good or bad seem reductive

this album is solely, in my opinion, an assertion, of position kanye has taken in his persona and the standard for what must be done to ‘gain respect’ whatever that means

but the lèse majesté way in which this polarizes audiences, could, in my opinion, have extremely f**ked repercussions


‘the divide’ a conceptual philosophical ‘space’ i view as definitively preventing people from viewing other people as people, but as means, is rhetorically reinforced by the themes in this album

kanye’s position as a performer provides that he choose and employ an explicit persona, and that, being a ‘rapper persona’

and him having been discouraged, by fans of the ‘hard motherfucker’ image have—as his source of money and affirmation, and because, from his standpoint as a celebrity, he has more direct and temporally palpable influence over people’s ideas than probably even, in this, a time of peace in the US, the president—’boxed him into’ a conceptual corner

the result of which is this album


kanye—due to his extremely expensive lifestyle and impending (or upon him) necessity for an increase in income and outside validation, which will probably decline, domestically (as in within his family), rapidly as he assumes his position as father and husband—probably made this album as a means to help him support the lifestyle he desires for himself and his daughter, north

he, then, could hypothetically justify encouraging these ways of thinking if he viewed it as beneficial to his future, because, should this and other ideas and circumstances concurrent or similar to it, inflame and exacerbate racial tension, kanye could, and probably would

‘move [his] family out the country so you can’t see where [he] stay’

which seems bleak, to me


conclusion: idk… i don’t think kanye west cares about ppl

wish kanye were working in a climate where he felt able to utilized his skills for the purpose of allowing individual humans to think abt [not external conflict] Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originally appeared on I AM ALT LIT.

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