Kanye West – May, 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LIGh91mloA
“You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like, we’re mentally imprisoned. I like the word ‘prison’ because ‘slavery’ goes too directly to the idea of Blacks. You know, ‘slavery’, ‘holocaust’… ‘holocaust’ is Jews, ‘slavery’ is Blacks. So, ‘prison’ is something that unites us as one race. Blacks and Whites as being one race.”
“You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”
“Kanye West said slavery was a choice.”
Forget about the music. When did we forget about the music?
At hip-hop’s inception it was a tool for radicalism, a platform to give a voice to people and opinions that wouldn’t have it otherwise. Celebrity is dead, or at least dying, in a state of steady but impending implosion as it gnaws itself from within; a product of an age in which near everyone exists within a self-constructed limelight, rendering it meaningless. And amidst the rubble of this 20th century construct (the demolition of which Kanye and his peers partially caused), there is opportunity for new groundwork to be laid. ye is art born from power, not in awareness of or pursuit of status, but purely and wholly because of it.
With ye, and the coverage surrounding it, it is clear that each album that Kanye produces becomes a piece of a larger puzzle: himself. Every opportunity for him to appear in the media allows us to strip more layers back on a character that seems to be in a radical state of perpetual flux. Celebrity has never been this fragile, this intimate. To persona, distance is everything and Kanye swings flailing on a bungee between our eyes and a more guarded sense of truth ('I've been trying to make you love me // But everything I try just takes you further from me"). Our own interrogations only provide ammunition to build his platform higher and further from us so the character of Kanye West becomes less one created by himself and more of a bullet-bag for the collective consciousness. Whether intentional or not, West has made himself into art – the final expressive frontier that could only be done to such an extent today, now.
This is new. This is nothing new.
And suddenly, like ashes from the sky it all falls into place. The perennial questions of art versus artist, freedom of speech, freedom of thought. This is new. This is nothing new. It never left. Condemnable, inspirational, hate-worthy, genius; it doesn’t matter what you think, the man will be studied for decades. He’s already immortal, already free.
Kanye West – June, 2018: I Thought About Killing You
“Just say it out loud to see how it feels. People say, 'don’t say this, don’t say that.' Just say it out loud. Just to see how it feels. Weigh out all the options. Nothing is off the table. Today I thought about killing you. Premeditated murder. I think about killing myself and I love myself way more than I love you. The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest.”