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a long tradition of black artists for whom self-love is a political act
June 22, 2013 2:59 PM   Subscribe

In Defense Of Kanye’s Vanity: The Politics Of Black Self-Love
"Kanye West has become a pop-culture punch line, but those who have dismissed him as aimlessly arrogant have missed the point. He is part of a long tradition of black artists who have fashioned a deeply political articulation of what it means to love yourself."

Previously on Metafilter: Complete awesomeness at all times
posted by andoatnp (284 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
"My wish for Kanye & Kim's daughter is that she shares their ambition & talent, and is never treated the way Kanye treats women in his songs." -- Anil Dash.
posted by docgonzo at 3:08 PM on June 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


Except his songs are works of art and not real and no one would be on twitter grandstanding for cheap points about a guy's kid if he was white.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [32 favorites]


It is okay to confront the fact that art forms we enjoy also perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
posted by elizardbits at 3:13 PM on June 22, 2013 [30 favorites]


This is another case among many where I think we white people are holding black people to different standards because the expression of something is marginally different than what we're used to. I can't think of a major 60s or 70s white rock band that wasn't intensely arrogant and beloved for it (hell, Kanye says he's Jesus? Don't forget John said he was bigger than Jesus).

Not to mention: expressions of ego are an inherent part of the genre. They're what makes a lot of the fun songs fun. They're what led us to affirmations drawn from hip hop culture like "hatters gonna hate" that we're now all drawing on as sources of strength. As the man said himself, the same wrongs helped him write the songs.
posted by Apropos of Something at 3:23 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


no one would be on twitter grandstanding for cheap points about a guy's kid if he was white.

North West. He gave his kid a joke name. So yes, I believe they would still make fun of him if he were white.

And Lennon received TONS of flack for declaring himself "more popular than Jesus." That statement is still, even today, a touchstone for out-of-touch celebrity gone berserk.
posted by 1adam12 at 3:27 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


I thought the John Lennon statement was that the Beatles, not him, were more popular than Jesus which was a logical statement given the way young people and the culture in general reacted to the Beatles.
posted by AnnElk at 3:38 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


And Lennon received TONS of flack for declaring himself "more popular than Jesus." That statement is still, even today, a touchstone for out-of-touch celebrity gone berserk.

I think you are misunderstanding the Lennon quote. John said that in an incredulous way, not bragging at all. He was actually uncomfortable with how beserk the world , with the media in attendance, thrusting microphones in his face, had gone over the Beatles.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:38 PM on June 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


That was all explained. Jesus was all right with Lennon, but His disciples were thick and stupid, and them twisting it is what ruined it for him. No problem!

I guess the master of this kind of bravado was Muhammad Ali, who surely did have an enormous impact as an archetype available to black cultural figures.
posted by thelonius at 3:40 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He didn't mean he personally believed he was in a competition with Jesus to be the most famous person on earth.
posted by AnnElk at 3:40 PM on June 22, 2013


My point is that all of these questions, justifications, etc. are ones we do provide John and don't provide Kanye, and that *might* have something to do with race, per the OP.
posted by Apropos of Something at 3:40 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Personally, I am fully aware of how prevalent arrogance has been in rap before Kanye. DMC rapping about "I am the King of Rock, there is none higher" and literally hundreds of battle rhymers over the years. The reason I don't like Kanye's arrogance is that it is not fun or entertaining to me, and I don't think his arrogance is of any more artistic merit than others that have done it before him.

He does make some pretty great beats though.
posted by Hoopo at 3:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except his songs are works of art and not real and no one would be on twitter grandstanding for cheap points about a guy's kid if he was white.

I call bullshit on this. Kanye is an ass. That's what he's being called out about. That's why he's a punchline--because he deserves to be. Eminem was also called out for his statements about women repeatedly. Plenty of misogynist dickheads get called out on it, regardless of their race. Dice Clay is another one.

"It's just a joke! You're too sensitive!"

"It's jus a song! It's not real!"

Fuck off. You're an asshole. Get over yourselves.

It's mind-boggling that people try and defend these people. You know, I love Charles Bukowski's writing--but the guy was an asshole. Love Philip Roth's books. The guy's a dick. David Milch? My favorite writer. But he's a raging, fucking loon. Batshit crazy.

You can like someone's art without liking them as a person, though admittedly it's hard. When you start rationalizing for celebrities--people you've never met and never will--when they're *taken at their own words*, you've got no perspective and you're acting out fear of being painted with the same brush.

Kanye West doesn't want to be called an arrogant dick, he doesn't need to be white. He needs to stop being an arrogant dick.
posted by dobbs at 3:56 PM on June 22, 2013 [44 favorites]


This is another case among many where I think we white people are holding black people to different standards because the expression of something is marginally different than what we're used to. I can't think of a major 60s or 70s white rock band that wasn't intensely arrogant and beloved for it

While "loved" and "arrogant" overlap a lot, I don't know of any band that has ever been loved because it was arrogant. (Some years ago, a friend waited on Robert Plant in a restaurant; he was very nice, and didn't freak out about his croissants or anything.) I think Kanye is like many of those bands in other ways, to be sure...the rambling, self-indulgent epics are basically hip-hop prog rock. What some read as progress and experimentation usually, in any genre, come to be read by many as bloat and pretension. Inevitably, some type of punk-style corrective will emerge (arguably, it already has) as DIY acts see one pampered superstar after another chase the muse up his own ass; it's, like, the circle of life.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think what Kanye said in the NYT interview is that he's not being given the acknowledgment he deserves, so he's going to give it to himself and proclaim it loud and proud. He's going to operate outside the awards and charts and accolades, and just tell us who he is, not wait for the validation, and not care who doesn't buy it. It is identity activism, and I do think it's a powerful way to deal with pervasive, institutionalized racism.

All completely undermined for me by the misogyny.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:01 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


drjimmy11: “Except his songs are works of art and not real and no one would be on twitter grandstanding for cheap points about a guy's kid if he was white.”

I appreciate that it's possible sometimes to be too harsh on black music simply because it's black music, but often there's an awful paternalism that liberals in particular succumb to that goes much too far in the other direction; I've read lots of defenses of the rank misogyny on NWA's best records which have claimed that they were okay because "they were just young black men expressing the sentiments of the world they were coming from." That's nonsense; they were (and are) deeply intelligent guys who should know better, and clapping our hands as if the ability of young black men to be articulate is some kind of miracle that smooths over their mistakes is actually offensive.

To some degree, our respect for a type of music can be measured by our willingness to call it out when it gets things wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 4:04 PM on June 22, 2013 [41 favorites]


(Incidentally, that's completely separate from the prominence of bravado in hip hop and in Kanye's music in particular, I think.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:06 PM on June 22, 2013


and no one would be on twitter grandstanding for cheap points about a guy's kid if he was white.

is this a comment about anil dash's tweet? do you know who (metafilter's own) anil dash is? if you think he's picking some sort of racist bone and doesn't understand popular music, i wager you don't follow him very closely.
posted by nadawi at 4:08 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


All people need to do is take some time and understand Yeezus and exactly what he's saying (beyond zeroing in on one line) but I guess it's easier to have a kneejerk reaction to it. It's one of the most interesting and exciting albums to come out in a long time
posted by Cloud King at 4:12 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also: kanye west is hip hop's Noel and Liam Gallagher. There I said it
posted by Hoopo at 4:12 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Cloud King: “All people need to do is take some time and understand Yeezus and exactly what he's saying (beyond zeroing in on one line) but I guess it's easier to have a kneejerk reaction to it. It's one of the most interesting and exciting albums to come out in a long time”

I haven't really formed a solid opinion yet, but it seems a whole hell of a lot better than MBDTF to me, that's for sure.
posted by koeselitz at 4:15 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought the boasting in rap was a call back to ancient writing that would begin with pages and pages of boasts about the writer, eg The Code of Hammurabi.
posted by maggiemaggie at 4:18 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Except his songs are works of art and not real and no one would be on twitter grandstanding for cheap points about a guy's kid if he was white.

Works of art aren't real? Jokes aren't real, then, and neither are tweets, but Paula Deen and the Penny Arcade guy are getting raked over the coals in adjacent threads, and being white isn't helping them. Objectionable crap is objectionable.

all of these questions, justifications, etc. are ones we do provide John and don't provide Kanye, and that *might* have something to do with race

It's not necessary to provide Lennon with justifications. He explained himself; he's on film doing so. He was making a pointed observation about the Beatles' popularity; it wasn't remotely arrogant.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:27 PM on June 22, 2013


Kanye West is a Prince who has kept it together slightly better and didn't yet need to retreat into his own kingdom.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:31 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


And that Anil Dash tweet is vapid, the kind of pseudofeminist brownie scoring with no actual thought behind it.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:32 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Listen, Kanye's arrogant and, as our president said, a jackass. I think so. Everybody thinks so. I don't mind when people say so, I don't even mind when people make jokes about it, especially when those jokes are funny. I'll be making IMMA LET YOU FINISH jokes until the end of time. What seems particularly problematic in this case is that people don't seem to be willing to move on and talk about Kanye as anything but arrogant.
posted by Apropos of Something at 4:33 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


> What seems particularly problematic in this case is that people don't seem to be willing to move on and talk about Kanye as anything but arrogant.

Well, to be fair it seems to be by far the most common theme in all his work. If you removed arrogance and derogation of women, there really wouldn't be a lot left...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:45 PM on June 22, 2013


i'm confused
posted by not_on_display at 4:47 PM on June 22, 2013


"hatters gonna hate"

Only when they really get mad.
posted by Daily Alice at 4:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


On 808s and Heartbreak and MBDTF, there's at least as much shame over Kanye's personal failings as there is arrogance so treating arrogance as the only theme of his work isn't really justified.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:55 PM on June 22, 2013 [21 favorites]


Kanye West doesn't want to be called an arrogant dick, he doesn't need to be white. He needs to stop being an arrogant dick.
posted by dobbs at 12:56 on June 23 [8 favorites +] [!]


This type of criticism is neither new, nor particularly different from what other African Americans have come to expect when they become really popular. This is why I think Metafilter isn't really different from popular opinion concerning the African American experience.

But not to worry, Kanye was expecting this...and he had some words for you on his new album.

"I'd rather be a dick than a swallower"

posted by hal_c_on at 5:12 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


That last image with "U Mad?" emblazoned on it says a lot to me. I have long hated that phrase because in my experience online, it's always being used in an oppressive way targeting people who are sensitive to mistreatment or who are "too sincere" with their arguments. I saw it as an assertion of a power imbalance where the person who gets emotional or personally invested is the loser.

But seeing it in this context and considering the origins of the phrase has given me pause for thought. It became popular after Cam'Ron said it to Bill O'Reilly who was "mad" over hip-hop's "bad influence" on children. It occurs to me that "U Mad?" may have been initially and primarily targeted at those who would see you succeed and think you're not supposed to because they're better than you. Those who see the way you live your life and get mad because you're outside the boundaries they'd drawn for you.
posted by Danila at 5:24 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sorry but I haven't noticed Metafilter speaking about all popular African Americans the same way they speak about Kanye.
posted by Hoopo at 5:25 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Miles Davis certainly took his share of crap for how he presented himself and the "arrogance" of attempting to present his music as art to be listened to rather than just entertainment. Witness the gigs played facing away from the audience, etc. (Possibly false story: At at club gig, a (presumably white, maybe not) woman repeatedly requested "Blackbird," which was a hit for Miles. He ignored her obnoxious requests until she left. The second she was out the door, Miles turned to the band and said "Play Blackbird.")

That said, Louis Armstrong was about 10 times the better trumpeter than Miles, and he was all about showmanship, even stuff that got him accused of being an Uncle Tom minstrel; but Miles himself acknowledged Armstrong's supremacy:

"You can’t play nothing on modern trumpet that doesn’t come from him, not even modern shit. I can’t even remember a time when he sounded bad playing the trumpet. Never. Not even one time. He had great feeling up in his playing and he always played on the beat. I just loved the way he played and sang. (On Louis Armstrong)" -- Miles Davis

Lesson: Talent surpasses all and, with time, is the variable by which artists will and must be judged; the way they present themselves is just window dressing. Louis Armstrong was the greatest trumpet player of the 20th century, who was also all about being accessible to his audience and was almost pathologically humble in his personal and professional relationships. Miles Davis was a genius composer/arranger who had an ability to play expressively with a high level of technical competence on trumpet that nevertheless did not even remotely approach Armstrong's technical abilities, and Miles was a complete son of a bitch to everyone, in every situation, ever. Both are highly revered by music lovers of all backgrounds and racial compositions, white, black, or whatever. Miles was certainly a lot like Kanye, at least with respect to the attitude, histrionics, and misogyny. It was the quality of their music that resulted in the favorable evaluations of both Armstrong and Miles, despite their different ways of presenting that music to - and engaging with - the public.

Anyway, sorry; we were talking about Kanye West, right?
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:45 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kanye West is a Prince who has kept it together slightly better and didn't yet need to retreat into his own kingdom.

I won't deny that Prince is something of a headcase, but do NOT imply that Kanye is even in the same neighborhood as him in terms of talent.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Kanye may be an arrogant dick but "Yeezus" is amazing so he's got a pass from me. It's not for everyone though, I'll grant that.
posted by fungible at 5:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I don't actually know much about Kanye's music, and was thinking maybe I need to check this new album out and give it a careful listen and see what all the hubbub is for, but if "I'd rather be a dick than a swallower" is one of the pearls of wisdom his DEFENDERS are offering up as evidence of his awesomeness, I think I'll just listen to this Roland Kirk album I picked up for $2 today for a third time.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:55 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


that Anil Dash tweet is vapid, the kind of pseudofeminist brownie scoring with no actual thought behind it.

Orly? You know, as a woman with two adult daughters who does not like how many rap lyrics treat women, I would like to virtually stand up and give Anil Dash a standing ovation. Uninterrupted, even.

Rap does not have to be mysogynistic or vulgar. But so very very much of it is.

(I am sitting here typing this literally a stone's throw from where J. Cole went to high school-my son was in classes with him. I have tried to listen to his stuff but literally could not. I am no prude but...just, no. And he has the reputation of being more respectful! )

Back to Kanye-sometimes I wonder if he's actually bipolar. The kind where your grandiosity actually gets you fame and fortune along with people thinking you are just a butthead.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:56 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I'd rather be a dick than a swallower"

Damn, as a "swallower," that's fucking offensive.
posted by MoxieProxy at 6:00 PM on June 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


I also blame him for the current plague of bowties.
posted by jonmc at 6:02 PM on June 22, 2013


I wonder if he's actually bipolar

please don't do this
posted by neuromodulator at 6:05 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Nauromodulator, I used to be one of that tribe, and as such used to marvel at the lists of incredibly successful people who were also a member of the tribe.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:07 PM on June 22, 2013


I won't deny that Prince is something of a headcase, but do NOT imply that Kanye is even in the same neighborhood as him in terms of talent.

Are you serious? Kanye is has been the most important and influential musician for the last 10 years and he is in fact extremely talented, even if he can't play guitar
posted by Cloud King at 6:19 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Kanye has just dropped Yeezus, an incredibly dense and complicated album that revels in a dark spiral of introspection mixed with the political articulations and sonic embellishing that is so characteristic of his canon".

LOL music writers. That's some word salad right there.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:21 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


JEEZUS people, this album is an utterly fantastic work of pop genius and your knickers are all in twists because a rock star might be arrogant.

You're missing the show, suckers.

I won't deny that Prince is something of a headcase, but do NOT imply that Kanye is even in the same neighborhood as him in terms of talent.

True. Prince isn't fit to hold Kanye's jock.
posted by xmutex at 6:21 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


True. Prince isn't fit to hold Kanye's jock.

What the hell is going on right now?
posted by cashman at 6:23 PM on June 22, 2013 [33 favorites]


...no one would be on twitter grandstanding for cheap points about a guy's kid if he was white.

Are you kidding? The day Suri Cruise was born someone put up a countdown clock for when she'd be legal. The cult of celebrity does not respect childhood.

Also, Kanye isn't anywhere near Prince in influence or talent. I am guessing even he'd say as such.

And Kanye is a dick.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:23 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well explain why it's so genius. I listened, liked some of the beats and backing, thought the lyrics and delivery were uninspired. Don't care if he's a dick.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:24 PM on June 22, 2013


Kanye is has been the most important and influential musician for the last 10 years

Cite, please.

(More seriously, I realize you must have meant "most important and influential American musical artist working in the areas of Top 40 R&B and hip hop," which also might be a somewhat controversial statement, but at least not one that would necessarily have to implicate John Zorn, Riccardo Muti, or Henry Threadgill, for example.)
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 6:26 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kanye's the fellow who rapped over that Daft Punk song, yeah?
posted by panaceanot at 6:41 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just as long as someone brings me my damn croissants.
posted by kbanas at 6:46 PM on June 22, 2013


Well explain why it's so genius. I listened, liked some of the beats and backing, thought the lyrics and delivery were uninspired.

Don't have to. It's not your thing. That's okay.
posted by fungible at 6:48 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not, like, a huge connoisseur of rap music, but I've been listening to Yeezus pretty consistently since it came out, and my only complaint so far is that it seems short. It's all pretty consistently great, but there's some really stand out stuff for me. In particular, Blood on the Leaves - when that Nina Simone sample bleeds into that big, bombastic, menacing like... pow.. I dunno. I like it. A lot.
posted by kbanas at 6:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


St. Alia, even if you have/had a bipolar disorder or some other mental illness, it's unethical to speculate about the mental health of people you do not know.

If you are qualified to make diagnosis, then it's a breach of patient-client confidentiality and if you're not qualified, then it's simply irresponsible.
posted by FritoKAL at 6:53 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


if you're not qualified, then it's simply irresponsible.

Uh yeah welcome to the Internet.
posted by xmutex at 7:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


So I went off by myself and listened to the album for a while, and I guess I'm not reading this thread carefully enough but it seems a bit odd.

People seem to have a couple of reactions to Kanye at this point:

(a) Misogynist.

(b) Most important X ever (better than Prince, too!)

(c) Such an arrogant jerk.

Now – the first one, it'll take me some listening to speak to. I don't think this album is hideously misogynistic on first listen, as rap records go, although there were some bits that I really balked at. It's very sexualized – but that's an interesting point in itself: the fact that people seem to confuse and conflate these two things. Or the fact that the two often seem to go hand in hand in hip hop. Kanye's whole schtick on this front is really a generally aggressive sexuality, but it's not so much rapey sexuality as it is "here it is, in your face, I want to have sex in very strange ways and talk about it" kind of sexuality. Some difficult things worth pondering there, I think; on the one hand, there are some problems, but on the other hand Kanye certainly isn't an obvious choice if people are looking for a poster boy for the exploitation of women. His descriptions of couplings seem to be characterized by a desire for fallen souls like himself, not a desire to dominate or control or destroy. But again, this is on my first listening or so; people should try to draw their own conclusions.

On (b) and (c) – that's an odd combination, isn't it? And it's characteristic of famous people like Kanye, a combination that I imagine is incredibly maddening to him. On one day, Kanye will have an interviewer who (like many people here) will say something like: "you're better than Prince ever was; how do you feel about that?" And he'll answer that question, sometimes with some bravado. The next day, he'll have an interviewer who (like many other people here) will say something like: "yesterday you compared yourself to Prince, of all people. Many people say you're arrogant. How do you respond to that charge?" It's a weird sort of dance between two extremes.

But Kanye's been doing this thing for years; one thing I don't think anybody can claim is that he's not aware of it. He's obviously aware of it. I'm actually not entirely sure why someone felt the need to write an article defending it, although I guess that's okay – his struggle with arrogance is still a major theme on Yeezus, just like it has been for two or three albums now. I mean, seriously, listen to "I Am A God" even once – he's shouting about wanting his croissants? Does anyone believe this is actually serious arrogance, not self-deprecating or self-commentary?

Of course they do. Why? Because they didn't listen to the song; they just read the name of the song and drew conclusions from there.

I still have some real problems with this album. There's some weird sexualizations that I'm not entirely comfortable with, as always seems to be the case with Kanye. Also, he has a habit of sounding like he's doing a lot more than he's sometimes doing. But there are some interesting things there, and the album's worth an actual listen rather than a blanket dismissal.
posted by koeselitz at 7:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Can someone who has followed him longer than me tell me if Kanye's work changed since his mom died? My coworker said to me last week that that really made a difference. He really wasn't on my radar back then and I was curious.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:16 PM on June 22, 2013


St. Alia of the Bunnies: “Can someone who has followed him longer than me tell me if Kanye's work changed since his mom died? My coworker said to me last week that that really made a difference. He really wasn't on my radar back then and I was curious.”

Yeah, it's pretty clear he changed. She died between Graduation and 808s & Heartbreak. If you were hoping for a description of how he's changed, you'd probably be better off just listening to both albums.
posted by koeselitz at 7:22 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think there's a kind of vague ickiness inherent in writing off Kanye as a misogynist or an asshole or whatever without at least trying to get a read on what he's doing. It's like people who are so fucking proud of calling it '(c)rap' or whatever. There's this kind of subtle, blanket denial of agency involved in writing something off so completely. Rappers, and maybe Kanye most of all, aren't coming out of nowhere with this hyperbole shit. They get hyperbolically written off first (and constantly), and they respond in kind.
posted by Nomiconic at 7:33 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think there's a kind of vague ickiness inherent in writing off Kanye as a misogynist or an asshole

No no no, white opinionated liberals on internet message boards can accept all manner of rock & roll / death metal irony and embellishment and hyperbole and shtick but black rappers are definitely violent and misogynistic.

Come on.
posted by xmutex at 7:38 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Why would I give an artist a pass on misogyny any more than I would give him or her a pass on racism?

Could racism be used ironically? I suppose it could. As could misogyny. But we are talking about a whole genre of music that has a ton of it, and it's hard to get past that fact.

(I have no problem with rap as a genre in itself. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:43 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anil Dash is a great person and very smart, and perhaps it's unfortunate that his comment is part of the debate here, but I do end up on the "twitter grandstanding" side of things. Kanye has love lyrics, lyrics praising his mother, lyrics full of hate, ignorant lyrics, intelligent lyrics. Lumping them all together isn't fair, and scoring points based on someone's art vs. how they treat their daughter isn't either.
posted by cell divide at 7:53 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Stupid racist hypocritical death-metal-loving liberals!
posted by Hoopo at 7:55 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Can someone who has followed him longer than me tell me if Kanye's work changed since his mom died? My coworker said to me last week that that really made a difference. He really wasn't on my radar back then and I was curious.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 16:16 on June 23 [+] [!]

Why would I give an artist a pass on misogyny any more than I would give him or her a pass on racism?

Could racism be used ironically? I suppose it could. As could misogyny. But we are talking about a whole genre of music that has a ton of it, and it's hard to get past that fact.

(I have no problem with rap as a genre in itself. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 16:43 on June 23 [+] [!]


So you, admittedly, know nothing about what is being talked about here. And if I was to ask "what is misogynistic about his lyrics?", you'd start googling. I don't know you personally, but you seem to mirror other mefites attitudes towards him...fueled by ignorance and just repetition of what others say,.

I don't understand why he's held to a higher standard than others.

I freaking loved j. Gandolfini but his art was kinda really misogynistic. But people are all falling over how awesome he was.

Oh yeah, I do understand the difference, one is white and the other isn't.

Bada bing.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:01 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I thought it was pretty misogynist of him to interrupt Taylor Swift's award. And don't play the race card with me. I was PART of the filming of a rap video a few weeks ago.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:12 PM on June 22, 2013


But truthfully as far as Kanye's lyrics go all I know about is the articles I read about him. And I do read the articles.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2013


I strongly suggest listening to the records. Or, at the very least, reading the lyrics. The music itself is striking and worth hearing, but the lyrics are (I think) more interesting than you might expect from just reading articles about the album.
posted by koeselitz at 8:15 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The misogyny seems like a derail here. At least, it has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the link in the FPP, which I found to be an interesting take on Kanye's aggressive ego and self-aggrandizement and how that makes sense in a certain context.

To me it just seems like finding an easy thing to tear him down about (and it is easy, I don't listen to Kanye because there is just too much hate towards women in his lyrics), and I cannot see how it relates to the topic at all.

But truthfully as far as Kanye's lyrics go all I know about is the articles I read about him. And I do read the articles.

Right and I believe you, nor did you start this misogyny discussion, the derail happened right off the bat. But if you read this article, could you please tell me what this has to do with misogyny? The article isn't actually about his lyrics at all as far as I can see.

It's about something else, fitting Kanye into the pantheon of black artists and a specific way some of them (not all, not even most), have dealt with their persona.
posted by Danila at 8:16 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


(I've been listening to this album all week)

The most interesting take on Yeezus I've read is a critic arguing that it's fundamentally a meditation/freak-out around the idea of impending fatherhood. Viewed with that lens, it really does become a pretty amazing piece of art. I know my id certainly stepped through many of the same sentiments before my son was born - but in my case, it didn't result in frankly amazing music.

There's plenty to be offended about on this album. For example, he samples Nina Simone's version of Strange Fruit (a song about lynchings, for crying out loud), in a song that is take down of the "second string bitches"/groupies that are trying to make his life hard. Among many, many other examples. In truth, there's some pretty significant commentary on race and gender relations layered among some pretty clever word play, tempo changes, electronic musicality, etc.

It's certainly not a cynical, pop friendly, money grab. I'm kinda amazed that someone this famous would even be allowed to make an album like this - where he's actually got a point of view as opposed to some bland whatever intended to not offend anybody, anywhere.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 8:24 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I thought it was pretty misogynist of him to interrupt Taylor Swift's award. And don't play the race card with me. I was PART of the filming of a rap video a few weeks ago.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 17:12 on June 23 [+] [!]


You have no idea what he said, do you? If you do, then you are kinda confused about what the m-word means. Let me guess, you also have black friends.

But truthfully as far as Kanye's lyrics go all I know about is the articles I read about him. And I do read the articles.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 17:13 on June 23 [+] [!]


Thanks for the confirmation. Have a great rest of the day.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:39 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, hal_c_on, would you have said the same thing to Anil Dash? Just wondering.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:26 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a God
So hurry up with my damn massage
In a French-ass restaurant
Hurry up with my damn croissants

I just talked to Jesus
He said, "What up Yeezus?"
I said, "Shit I'm chilling
Trying to stack these millions"
I know he the most high
But I am a close high
Mi casa, su casa
That's that cosa nostra
I am a God
I am a God
I am a God


If you don't find that hilarious, ESPECIALLY in the context of how Kanye is perceived by the media and how aware he is of that perception, then you probably lack a sense of humor period.

Kanye is a fantastic producer, a fascinating (but flawed) lyricist, and an enjoyable rapper and singer. He has ambitions to DO things in the public sphere that makes him pretty singular, equally interesting from a pop or an avant garde perspective. And definitely his work deserves the latter descriptor; I think there's no doubting Kanye is doing something weird and unusual post-his Runaway movie.

The sexism sucks and I wish he'd cut it out (though I doubt he will).

It's possible to feel both ways at once about somebody. But I do feel like some of the critics here are reacting to Kanye's media image and not to the man or his music.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:27 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anil Dash's tweet was amusing, but trite. I doubt he'd disagree. I mean, it's a tweet; let's not deconstruct it too much. It's a form of communication that's even LOWER than a blog post.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:29 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's possible to feel both ways at once about somebody. But I do feel like some of the critics here are reacting to Kanye's media image and not to the man or his music.


That could be true. But isn't HE mostly responsible for that media image, at least by now?

And on preview: To many of us, misogyny is a daily factor in our lives, and frankly it feels at least a little insulting that on this particular topic people want to minimize what Anil Dash said. He's not on this thread to speak for himself, so unless he wants to claim it as a fluff tweet, I am going to show him the respect of taking what he tweeted seriously. Because that topic is serious to me as a woman.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:32 PM on June 22, 2013


(and one more thing before I shut this infernal computer up: I am not as het up re the God talk on that album because, as arrogant as those lyrics are, I'm reading them as more of a sendup. I suspect he means them that way. Still wouldn't trade places with the man in a thunderstorm, if you get my meaning.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:34 PM on June 22, 2013


To me, the compelling thing about Kanye's arrogance is how transparent it is. I could be projecting, but a close listen to Kanye's discography leaves me with the sense that he's a tremendously insecure person. The tension between that and the hyperbolic swagger of his persona is one of the things that interests me most about his work. I can abide criticism of Kanye, no problem. What I find unsettling is people who dismiss him as one dimensional, as if he's not capable of nuance; as if he doesn't know what he's doing. The fact that I am convinced he does is the very reason I find myself shaking my head at times and thinking dude, COME ON.

Kanye's the fellow who rapped over that Daft Punk song, yeah?

That's him. He also has CREDITS. /Brody Stevens
posted by Lorin at 9:47 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus Christ, almost this entire thread is a derail. The posted article is about black self-love as a political act, Kanye's arrogance, and how the two are related.

It's not about misogyny in hip-hop, whether Kanye is better than Prince, or his newborn child.

It's a shame because it's a really thoughtful article. One of the better things written about race and hip-hop lately. If you're commenting to just say Kanye's an arrogant dick, you're missing the point.
posted by mokin at 9:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [19 favorites]


The posted article is about black self-love as a political act, Kanye's arrogance, and how the two are related.

Yeah, white people, by and large, aren't into that. See also: the Black Panthers.
posted by liketitanic at 10:19 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


This type of criticism is neither new, nor particularly different from what other African Americans have come to expect when they become really popular.

I wasn't trying for new or different. Was shooting for accurate.

This is why I think Metafilter isn't really different from popular opinion concerning the African American experience.

*Barf*

And I haven't heard his new album. Probably never will. My point is that his music is irrelevant in determining whether or not he's an arrogant jerk--it's possible for people to be both artistic and an asshole. The latter doesn't diminish their talent anymore than the former rescues their personality.

Kanye fans need to get over trying to save his reputation as a person. He can shovel faster than you can throw the dirt back in. Just crank his tunes and shut out the other bullshit.
posted by dobbs at 10:46 PM on June 22, 2013


hal_c_on: "This type of criticism is neither new, nor particularly different from what other African Americans have come to expect when they become really popular."

Let me propose an alternate theory.

Kanye may actually be getting a pass because he's black. Can you imagine a white artist singing the line "eating Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce" with a straight face, while calling himself "the Steve Jobs of music"?

Or picture a white artist singing that he "keep[s] it 300, like the *romans*" while simultaneously calling himself a genius - without being ridiculed for not knowing what the fuck he's talking about. Kanye is a product of the inequalities in our society. How would you expect him to tell romans from spartans apart?

Now take a look at Robin Thicke and his "Blurred lines" song (NSFW), now being called "the rape anthem of the summer". Imagine this was a song by a random black rapper and compare the resulting controversy.

(Disclaimer: Yeezus is the first Kanye album that I've listened and I quite enjoyed it, but overall I think the guy is, as Obama once said, a jackass)
posted by gertzedek at 10:59 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


i just want to take this drunken opportunity to link to my favourite kanye-related comment of all time

OF ALL TIME
posted by elizardbits at 11:49 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or picture a white artist singing that he "keep[s] it 300, like the *romans*" while simultaneously calling himself a genius - without being ridiculed for not knowing what the fuck he's talking about. Kanye is a product of the inequalities in our society. How would you expect him to tell romans from spartans apart?


Listen to the SNL version. There is a verse that was dropped from the album. He makes a reference to Inglorious Basterds and the theatre that hitler was trapped in. Some people have said the song is about media distortion of history. I dunno, maybe he thinks Inglorious Basterds was a docudrama.

Anyway. 300 is kind of a rap trope. It can either be taken to mean "keep it 100" x 3 ( rap has an obsession with 3 as well, third eye, three is the magic number).

Or it can be taken to mean a specific reference to Black Disciples operating in "chiraq". It is also kind of a slogan for Kanye's new BFF Chief Keef. Young Chop, the guy who produced the song 3hunna for Chief Keef has said that it is a reference to the 300 block where he and Chief Keef live.

Interesting that there is also 3hunnaK. JoJo 3hunnaK. We're he identifies himself as "BDK" presumably black disciple killer.

Kanye is from Chicago, he does reference "chiraq" in Black Skinhead, he does say "chi town shining" in I Am A God, he does say "Chief Keef, King Lou, This is Chi Right?" in Don'T Like.

I'm just saying there is levels to this. This is what rap afficionados do, look for hidden meanings. I look for Masonic imagery in every song and video, and I find it. Because they put it there to give us shit to talk about.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:31 AM on June 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah. Or we can just apply Ockham's razor and assume Kanye saw "300", the movie, and came out thinking "those romans were badass".
posted by gertzedek at 12:55 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kanye may actually be getting a pass because he's black. Can you imagine a white artist singing the line "eating Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce" with a straight face, while calling himself "the Steve Jobs of music"?

That is a direct quote from Travis Scott on twitter. I think it is also sort of an homage to a danny brown line on I Will. "if it's Smelling sweet I'ill lick it for an hour, and even if it's sour might lick it in the shower". It is sort of part of an ongoing dialog. I understand the sweet and sour part isn't the objectionable part though. I do think it is a stupid line.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:56 AM on June 23, 2013


gertzedek: “Or picture a white artist singing that he "keep[s] it 300, like the *romans*" while simultaneously calling himself a genius - without being ridiculed for not knowing what the fuck he's talking about.”

And mentioning Trojans right after that. Man, if you don't think those lines were hilarious, I have no idea what to tell you. "He's not correct about classical history!" Guess what? – the movie 300 was further off from history than Kanye will ever be, and it was being serious.

He's messing around, having fun. And sometimes his lines are really deeply intelligent. Honestly, even the dumbest rapper out there is pretty freaking smart, and Kanye blows most of them out of the water. I said this elsewhere, but "I'm gonna go Bobby Boucher" is the funniest threat I've ever heard; it's comic genius. And Kanye is funnier than people give him credit for.

I sometimes get the feeling that people love to play this "rappers R dumb" game to make themselves feel better about their own intelligence. Look, I know the Romans, and moreover I adore Herodotus and his Histories and the original telling of the 300 (not the awful comic book or the even more awful movie) but if you know and care about that stuff you need to realize that people stopped being accurate in pop culture representations of them about five minutes after they happened. Our entire civilization is based on misrepresentations of classical history. It's not a big deal.

What's a lot more interesting is Kanye's wordplay and the directions he goes with it. I have the same problem with that awful "sweet and sour sauce" line, but that doesn't mean I think he's being dumb. On the contrary – he should know better, because he's clearly somewhat brilliant.

“Yeah. Or we can just apply Ockham's razor and assume Kanye saw "300", the movie, and came out thinking ’those romans were badass‘.”

Yes, my goodness. Too bad he didn't pay attention to the subtle nuances of that fine film and learn a little something about history.
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 AM on June 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah. Or we can just apply Ockham's razor and assume Kanye saw "300", the movie, and came out thinking "those romans were badass".
posted by gertzedek at 12:55 AM on June 23 [+] [!]


Hahah no. A guy featured on Yeezus, Chief Keef on the song Handle My Liquor is well known for "keeping it 3hunna"

See, why do you want to assume the reason that makes Kanye look the most idiotic.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:59 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, check this out on No Church In The Wild, Jay-z says "is pious pious because god loves pious, Socrates asked who's bias y'all seek" so we know he's read a couple books. You would think he would have pulled Kanye Aside and told him he was getting his Greek history wrong.

We are really going down a rabbit hole here. I'm just of the opinion that we should examine why we think guys like Kanye can't know about Greek history.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:08 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait, who said kanye *cant* know about greek history? He's probably perfectly capable of, he just doesn't care. Romans, Spartans, Trojans. All the same to him. My counterpoint to hal c on was that he gets a pass for his displays of ignorance, even when they fly in the face of his displays of "self love" , to go back to the original subject of the thread.
posted by gertzedek at 1:19 AM on June 23, 2013


he just doesn't care. Romans, Spartans, Trojans. All the same to him.My counterpoint to hal c on was that he gets a pass for his displays of ignorance

Or, as I suggested that instead of displaying ignorance he chose his words specifically to make a point. Maybe he really is making a point about how media distorts history. Why else would he bring up the plot to Inglorious Basterds, a treatise on revisionism.

Maybe he is just too smart for us. I think it's possible he's smarter than me.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:24 AM on June 23, 2013


Dude, that's a hell of a benefit of a doubt for Kim Kardashian's significant other.
posted by gertzedek at 1:29 AM on June 23, 2013


Yeah maybe you are right.

I do agree that for Kanye "self love" is innately political. He is the one who said "they taught us to hate ourselves and love their wealth"
posted by Ad hominem at 1:38 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


He also said "we wasn't supposed to make it past 25, jokes on you we still alive"

When you start from a position that American culture is trying to kill you, doing whatever you want, as a massive fuck you, becomes sort of an act or heroism.

I'm still kind of think the guy has something to say even if he isn't a Jay-Z level super genius.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:51 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


we should examine why we think guys like Kanye can't know about Greek history.

Or why Kanye is all of a sudden above writing the odd clumsy rhyme
posted by Hoopo at 1:57 AM on June 23, 2013


In other words, maybe he's aware Sparta is a different thing than Rome but its close enough and Sparta pretty much only rhymes with farta or Magna Carta, and Jay-Z already has dibs on Magna Carta and it doesn't let him do the "300 bitches/wheres the Trojans" punchline anyway
posted by Hoopo at 2:06 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Magna Carta Holy Grail Et In Acadia Ego Sang Real Priory Of Sion Illuminati is the full album title I believe.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:17 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Or we can just apply Ockham's razor and assume Kanye saw "300", the movie, and came out thinking "those romans were badass".

OCCAM is spinning in his grave going "It's supposed to be 'simplicity' not what you can use to prove your hypothesis." Maybe it's that entertainers will say stuff to sell records. Maybe you shouldn't be taking a history lesson from an entertainer...or a movie whose goal is to sell tickets. Maybe he wants you to have long conversations asking "why can't Kanye know history...or does he?"

Kanye may actually be getting a pass because he's black. Can you imagine a white artist singing the line "eating Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce" with a straight face, while calling himself "the Steve Jobs of music"?

You're right, white artists are a lot cleaner. Fine young gentleman they are, it's the black ones you gotta watch out for.

See the thing is, he's not even one of my favorite artists...but I kinda understand this "persecution" he claims he's going through. Everything he says and does is criticized (yeah, he is a celebrity), and I don't think he can handle it. All his "bragging" may be a symptom of his insecurity. I mean damn...white people can come up with "Mad Men" and that's seen as "that's just how things were back then...so it's not like they're glamorizing it. It's just art". Kanye makes an album and suddenly the art and artist are the same thing, and he's gotta figure out a way to either separate himself from his art (like Robin Thicke is doing by saying, “We were like, ‘We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this. People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.'"), or he just goes (paraphrased by me)"if you don't like or understand my art, fuck you".

I kinda respect the latter. I feel for the dude. I looked up previous threads of Kanye on this site and man you guys are mean. And a lot of it isn't even based on any evidence; it's just 'did you see how he punched that little white girl on stage?'

Dude is black, dude is smart, dude is famous, dude is rich, dude is successful. He's also a really good artist. That hits quite a nerve on metafilter with some people. I mean damn...how can someone put so much effort into writing about something THEY DON'T EVEN LIKE! I see all sorts of stuff on the blue about stuff that I don't care about. I'm not all "well yeah, dawson is smart...but I'm gonna continue on and on about how dawson is a dick". Shit.

Hmmm...maybe rather than trying to get people on here to remember him for something other than that Taylor Swift incident, I should realize that metafilter is no different than a country music awards show when it comes to appreciating African American artists.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:23 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know more about rap than I do country. I like rap as a genre way better than country. I just can't listen to Kanye.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:02 AM on June 23, 2013


I won't deny that Prince is something of a headcase, but do NOT imply that Kanye is even in the same neighborhood as him in terms of talent.

Not the point. The point is that Prince in the eighties was both immensely popular (like Kanye West) and highly reviled, written off as an oversexed clown, misogynist, arrogant douche, full of himself, etc, etc, also like Kanye West. In the end Prince withdrew, while Kanye West seems to have learned from him and others, to have kept more control over his career and take the hatred and feed on it.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:06 AM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, a lot of the respect Prince has gotten from the (white) music press and critics seems to have come only after he was no longer a threat, had withdrawn himself.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:08 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read nothing but gushing reviews of Prince when I was in France in the 80s.
posted by Wolof at 5:03 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been convinced by this thread and its lead article that Kanye's particular performance of black self-love subverts privilege, even the privileges of masculinity and celebrity. At least some of the time, it's very much about exposing the precarity and marginality of even accomplished black artists.

That said, there are certainly performances of aggressive self-love that are not radical or subversive of privilege at all. It's been one of the go-tos for people like Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown, both of whom have appropriated the rhetoric of radical self-love as a cover for their own direct and brutal participation in gendered violence and misogyny. "Winning" and "Team Breezy" pose as populist vanity, but don't actually work that way.

I'm not sure how to take Childish Gambino, either. He's trying to employ Kanye's subversive style of black self-love but seems to shade over into unironic sexism and classism because part of what he expresses -- and tries to remedy with this rhetoric -- is a deep ambivalence about himself in terms of cultural blackness and whiteness.

More generally, I can't shake the feeling that black self-love is pretty gendered. There's certainly a distinction to me between the way Beyonce performs black self-love and Kanye performs it, for example. What does it say that the awards speech interruption was Kanye speaking up FOR Beyonce, who in turn gave some of her own stage time to Taylor Swift?

There's a debate to be had about what happens to feminine sexuality in performances of black self-love that doesn't have to be about dropping the "misogyny" label. But it also shouldn't involve declaring that there's no structural sexism involved in and even extended by many male performances of it.
posted by kewb at 5:24 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


He is part of a long tradition of black artists who have fashioned a deeply political articulation of what it means to love yourself."



What a crapload of bullshit! I think I despise simpering critical theorists and wannabe deconstructionists as reviewers more than I dislike the asshole called Kanye West.

What I want to see is some of Kanye's fans winging his lyrics when they're 80, at a class reunion. That should be almost as pathetic as his so-called "art" appears to me, now.

It's sad when a jerk makes it to the top of a joke-pile like commercial hip-hop Even more sad when people get caught up in living vicariously through an asshole like West, like the writer of that article. Kanye West is a jerk, just like anyone in the hip-hop or any other scene who have used their manufactured stardom (because, that's just what is is!) to denigrate women.

Last, comparing this dick with GREAT black artists is all in itself a damned shame What an ignorant piece of trash writing, about a so-called "artist" who has no more reason to be famous than his unmemorable wife.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:39 AM on June 23, 2013


Last, comparing this dick with GREAT black artists is all in itself a damned shame What an ignorant piece of trash writing, about a so-called "artist" who has no more reason to be famous than his unmemorable wife.

Obviously you're not a golfer.
posted by kbanas at 6:22 AM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


And, also, as a couple other people have pointed out, it's unfortunate that docgonzo came into this thread with the first (and his only) comment - a gigantic red, flashing DERAIL, and then jetted off for greener pastures, because the actual article is actually pretty interesting.
posted by kbanas at 6:26 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love it when Jay-Z and Kanye come out with new albums--the rockists come out in full force.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:52 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or we can just apply Ockham's razor and assume Kanye saw "300", the movie, and came out thinking "those romans were badass".

Occam's razor justifies concluding that this assumption is motivated by racism, pure and simple.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:57 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Last, comparing this dick with GREAT black artists is all in itself a damned shame What an ignorant piece of trash writing, about a so-called "artist" who has no more reason to be famous than his unmemorable wife.

Oh yeah, except for producing and/or performing some true hip hop classics for the last 10+ years straight. I am not even a kanye west fan, but to pretend he hasn't had a profound influence on music as an artist is beyond silly.
posted by milarepa at 7:01 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, also, as a couple other people have pointed out, it's unfortunate that docgonzo came into this thread with the first (and his only) comment - a gigantic red, flashing DERAIL, and then jetted off for greener pastures, because the actual article is actually pretty interesting.

Derail? Look, if Heben Nigatu wants to sell a line of romantic, deconstructionist crap about a jerk like West, and at the same time place West in the company of GREAT black artists, then she deserves all the derail that this or any other venue can come up with. The comparison of Kanye West with GREAT black artists is offensive, and deserves all the vitriol that one can muster, in any way possible.
posted by Vibrissae at 7:04 AM on June 23, 2013


I am not even a kanye west fan, but to pretend he hasn't had a profound influence on music as an artist is beyond silly.

Profound influence on music, as an artist? Re: Kanye West, that's an oxymoron.
posted by Vibrissae at 7:09 AM on June 23, 2013


Profound influence on music, as an artist? Re: Kanye West, that's an oxymoron.

Funny how you ignored the first part of what I said.

You can hate his music, you can hate his persona, you can be glib, but you can't diminish his impact on hip hop and pop music as an artist. This whole third generation of artists were influenced by College Dropout, for better or for worse, and that's not even getting into his production work. "If you can't respect that your whole perspective is whack."
posted by milarepa at 7:24 AM on June 23, 2013


Other people have linked to comments from Dave Chapelle - but there's a long tradition of African-American artists that are perceived as "eccentric" (charitably) or "crazy" (uncharitably) - Prince, Chapelle, Macy Gray, Lauren Hill, Miles Davis, etc. etc. etc. Few of those - if any, have addressed the very real phenomenon of gaining that level of cultural and economic prominence, yet still being on the outside - as directly and succinctly as Kanye West has on "New Slaves."

That's an incredibly difficult topic to discuss, and West does it in a few minutes, oh and by the way - through some real poetry and musical sophistication, no big deal. There are lots of artists out there, regardless of race, who don't have anything nearly as interesting or important to say, and do so with less skill and craft, to fewer people.

Kanye West has a platform, and he's using it to actually say something real. Some of those things are problematic, yes - but so what? I hear and see more casually offensive sentiments all the time. For example: in this thread.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 7:32 AM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Derail? Look, if Heben Nigatu wants to sell a line of romantic, deconstructionist crap about a jerk like West, and at the same time place West in the company of GREAT black artists, then she deserves all the derail that this or any other venue can come up with. The comparison of Kanye West with GREAT black artists is offensive, and deserves all the vitriol that one can muster, in any way possible.

So do you have, like, an argument or reasons Kanye isn't a great artist, or just a lot of declarations interspersed with ad hominem attacks -- "simpering," "wannabe," etc. -- on anyone who doesn't agree with you?

Could you explain what makes Miles Davis great and Kanye crap, exactly? Do you think the idea of black self love as a response to a racist society has any merit as an analysis of an artist like Davis? If not, why not? What, precisely, about "commercial hip-hop" makes it crap as opposed to...well, frankly, you haven't touched on the alternative. Is there artistically meritorious hip-hop? How do its performers present themselves, and is their mode of performance better in some way? Why?
posted by kewb at 7:35 AM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I think kewb kind of hit it out of the park there. Well said.
posted by kbanas at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2013


I don't even listen to rap or Kanye, so I don't have a dog in this fight. But it's interesting how often attempts to discredit him rely on damning him for being arrogant. Delegitimize himself as an artist if you will; that's a common tactic in music discussions. But it does seem to me that the focus on arrogance is something I see directed mostly at black celebrities. It gets uncomfortably close to "uppity" in my opinion.

You have to be arrogant to believe that you can sell that many records, or perform in front of thousands, or otherwise be at the pinnacle of any industry where there are very few winners.

I also think North is a cute name.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:47 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


"You're right, white artists are a lot cleaner. Fine young gentleman they are, it's the black ones you gotta watch out for."

Are any fine young white gentlemen singing about eating ethnic pussy even on Sasha Frere-Jones radar?
posted by gertzedek at 7:58 AM on June 23, 2013


Gold digger was a pretty great track. I don't really care about the politics. Either the music is good or it isn't.
posted by empath at 8:01 AM on June 23, 2013


But it does seem to me that the focus on arrogance is something I see directed mostly at black celebrities. It gets uncomfortably close to "uppity" in my opinion.

Yeah, I dunno...so it's like if Kanye is a great musician then that's all him, but if people object to his jackassery, that's all racism? That's kind of a load. I too would like only to take credit for my accomplishments while disavowing all responsibility for my personal failings -- I think we'd all like that for ourselves, right? -- but...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:01 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


but if people object to his jackassery, that's all racism

For me, I'm always fascinated by people who seem to be personally offended by that aspect of his personality. It is used to discredit his music and I've never particularly understood why.
posted by girlmightlive at 8:07 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Could you explain what makes Miles Davis great and Kanye crap, exactly? Do you think the idea of black self love as a response to a racist society has any merit as an analysis of an artist like Davis? If not, why not? What, precisely, about "commercial hip-hop" makes it crap as opposed to...well, frankly, you haven't touched on the alternative. Is there artistically meritorious hip-hop? How do its performers present themselves, and is their mode of performance better in some way? Why?

A small review of the elements of logic will remind you that asking someone to "prove a negative" is nothing more than a cheap rhetorical trick. You're asking me to prove why "Kanye West isn't great". That's not gonna happen.

You're also implying that I'm making judgments that should be considered universal - i.e that Kanye West's persona and talent suck - really bad - especially compared to GREAT black artists.
That's non-starter, because it's my *opinion*.

Look, go do all the love fests you want re: what I consider to be (last four words, for your benefit) KW and his garbage persona; his overproduced, shallow "ideas"; his "revolutionary" impact; his "self-love", personified in bullshit critical theory writing like this: "The concept of vanity is so rooted in the idea of a singular narcissist that it can be hard to catch that Kanye speaks almost from a populist perspective — a populist narcissism, if you will". What a pathetic line of critical garbage. Doesn't Heben Nigatu have anyone bettter to write about, especially in such a hagiographic way? Writing that piece calls into question any judgment she makes about what constitutes GREAT black art; hers is a lightweight piece, dripping with references that try to be clever, but missing entirely the point that Kanye West's music is nothing more than drivel, most of which will be forgotten, compared to GREAT black music.

Incidentally, there are no definitive judgments about any of this. Opinions about what an artist does - even a so-called artist like Kanye West - are grounded in personal subjective opinion, and impossible to prove. On this thread, I'm obviously in the minority, but so what?

Like I said, go enjoy the hell out of Kanye West, but in the several chances I've had to hear his music, or hear him opine about this or that, I've been struck by the shallowness of it all, so-self-consciously trying to masquerade as something of substance. Frankly, that Kanye West is considered "great", is an indictment of an entire generation of music listeners, and just goes to show how massively effective the great pop music machine has really become. That machine has a lot of people bobbing their heads to misogynistic no-talents like Kanye West.

Self-love? at whose expense! That's the question that this wannabe critic needs to take into account. At the expense of women and others that West's drivel demeans; at the expense of a deeper understanding growth of cultural norms that could be so much more profound, if only the great big pop marketing machine wasn't so successful in turning so many listeners into followers.

Last, trying to separate West's so-called "art" from his pathetic positions and behavior is little more than another rhetorical device to divert people from the fact that for manufactured pop stars like Kanye West, it's all a part of the same thing. Kanye West and the machine that made him are something we could do without. If you don't like that I said that, you're going to have to live with the fact that I, along with many others, feel that way. Maybe Kanye can write a song about that, and one of his groupie cultural critics can write about it. Enjoy!
posted by Vibrissae at 8:44 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm gonna go Bobby Boucher" is the funniest threat I've ever heard; it's comic genius.

I feel like this can't come from someone that has listened to a lot of rappers. It's funny but hardly highlight real stuff.
posted by Hoopo at 8:52 AM on June 23, 2013


Well, for me maybe it was more that it was striking. I mean, he's not supposed to have a sense of humor, and in that song he's certainly adopting a stance of self-seriousness; so that line was kind of jarring in its humor. And, yeah, I liked it. I think he's still witty, which is a little striking given all the other stuff he's trying to do. So maybe not "the funniest ever," just - out of place in its hilarity. Odd how this guy inspires hyperbole even when one is consciously trying to avoid it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:57 AM on June 23, 2013


Odd how this guy inspires hyperbole even when one is consciously trying to avoid it.

Odd how hypnotic true musical drivel can be, and how far some will go to defend it, as long as one "believes". Dontcha just love that big music marketing machine?!?
posted by Vibrissae at 9:02 AM on June 23, 2013


Vibrissae you seem to think that if you state your stupid opinions as obnoxiously as possible they might be worth something, but you're wrong. No one is impressed
posted by Cloud King at 9:05 AM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


for manufactured pop stars like Kanye West

Manufactured by who exactly? Record companies (and Jay-Z himself) worried that Kanye wasn't "street enough" to make it as a solo artist and yet he has made a career of progressively distancing himself from the mainstream idea of what "street" is, drawing from a wide variety of unexpected influences in disparate media. Not that he is the first artist, or black artist, or black hip-hop artist to do this, but he did this. Also, for anyone who hasn't heard it in a while, check out Late Registration. Co-produced by Jon Brion and a prime example of the depth of Kanye's musical sensibilities and so much more in total than judging by its famous single (Gold Digger).
posted by Lorin at 9:08 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Vibrissae: "Odd how hypnotic true musical drivel can be, and how far some will go to defend it, as long as one 'believes'. Dontcha just love that big music marketing machine?!?"

Look, I haven't actually been defending it much here - I want to make that clear. In fact, honestly it seems insane to have to say that, considering that pretty much all I've said is "some ones are witty" and "some lines are very offensive" and "I do not care if Kanye is wrong about the history of the Ancient Greek war with the Persians."

In point of fact, you seem to be taking Kanye pretty personally, and I'm not sure why. I'll be honest - I really, really disliked MBDTF, so I'm not a member of Team Kanye here as a booster. It's just that, in the face of the incredible scorn and hatred you seem intent on pouring all over him, my relative detachment from this record and willingness to talk about what it really is and what it's doing might seem like unvarnished support.

What's odd to me is how visceral your reaction seems to be to Kanye given that, as you yourself have admitted, you haven't really listened to him much at all, and (as far as I can tell) you haven't listened to this album even once. You can complain about the media machine, but you seem to be the one who's taking the media's claims about this record at face value, uncritically.

And you've made some preposterous claims on the way. For one: you said that comparing Kanye to "GREAT black artists" is offensive and deserves the most bilious reaction possible. Isn't that silly? What is the point of greatness in artists except that they stand as a point of comparison? I compare myself to Duke Ellington and John Coltrane all the time; not favorably, sure, but they are important and they stand as an example of what greatness looks like, and that is valuable.

More to the point, you haven't really offered a single substantive criticism of Kanye himself or this record; you've just muttered vague dismissals about how he's manufactured or whatever. If you're hell-bent on hating this guy, fine; but don't pretend these are valid criticisms. Maybe be honest about the fact that this is really a personal vendetta for you, and perhaps we could get to the heart of why you hate him (or the media, or something) so much.
posted by koeselitz at 9:20 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


A day in, and I still don't understand why classifying Kanye in the popular music pantheon is necessary to noticing the ways in which critiques of his character have vastly outshone conversation about the music, and how that critique might be partly racial. I'm glad there are people in the thread who have listened to the music and think it's terrible: at least they're engaging with the music. But the current popular narrative isn't about whether Kanye's a misogynist or a bad rapper, it's whether he's "too arrogant" for his own good. It's hard for me not to render that as "uppity."
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:38 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think he's too arrogant for me. I think that about plenty of other celebrities too.

If there's racism there I don't think it has to do with me thinking he's too arrogant for me, but instead it's that black celebrities apparently find that culture forces them to be extra arrogant in order to be heard. Which I think Kanye is well aware of, and is embracing, and I think that's cool and that it pushes button that probably should be pushed. And I like his music. But I can't stand his personality.

I don't think my thinking his personality is too arrogant for my taste has anything to do with my thinking he's too "uppity".
posted by tychotesla at 10:12 AM on June 23, 2013


noticing the ways in which critiques of his character have vastly outshone conversation about the music

Only because that happens with every major celebrtity.

How that critique might be partly racial.

Or it might not be. But you guys seem to love to make it so.
posted by xmutex at 10:16 AM on June 23, 2013


Ali was way more arrogant than Kanye. With the difference that we're still talking about Ali and I don't think we'll be talking about Kanye in 30 years. It has nothing to do with race. As I said, there's actually a point to be made that being black actually helps Kanye rather than hinders him.
posted by gertzedek at 10:28 AM on June 23, 2013


I think it's also worth pointing out that if you don't listen to hip hop, like my mom and dad or something, what are you you going to know Kanye West for? Pretty much his high profile blunders that make the rounds on late night TV and get the President talking about it and maybe the odd commercial for his albums on TV, no? People with very limited exposure to Kanye are probably going to have a significantly worse impression of the guy, and I don't know if its really on them to learn more about him. Even for me, who likes a good deal of his stuff, he's not the only performer black or white who's personality puts me off being a bigger fan. I just find this essay lacking somewhat in convincing me I should look at Kanye in particular in a new light.
posted by Hoopo at 10:43 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


A small review of the elements of logic will remind you that asking someone to "prove a negative" is nothing more than a cheap rhetorical trick. You're asking me to prove why "Kanye West isn't great".

A small review of the questions I asked, rather than imaginary one you're condemning here, will show that not one of them asks you to "prove Kanye isn't great." You are making lots of affirmative statements and throwing around undefined terms with little to no rationale or justification behind them. I'm asking you to lay out some simple definitions and to compare two artists that you're already implicitly comparing.

But, whatever. It's clear that you're just going to duck behind a flurry of ad hominem and straw man arguments, and in the process make this discussion about yourself rather than the article or its ideas.
posted by kewb at 11:11 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


A small review of the elements of logic will remind you that asking someone to "prove a negative" is nothing more than a cheap rhetorical trick. You're asking me to prove why "Kanye West isn't great". That's not gonna happen.

Oh gods, this sort of thing makes you sound like any other internet blowhard opinionating about things they haven't got clue one about.

It's really not that hard to provide some criticism of Kayne West's music that's rooted in fact, rather than constantly asserting he's worthless compared to --oddly unspecified-- "GREAT black artists". What don't you like about his work? His music? His melodies? His rap flow? Lyrics? A combination of the above? Something else entirely? Who'd you compare him to? Who do you think is better than him and why?

If you feel so strongly about it, it would also not be hard to provide a more detailed criticism of the article that started this thread off other than that it's self evidently wrong. Clearly it isn't, or nobody would've thought it worthy of being discussed here.

I personally can see a lot of truth in the idea that Black artists, Black celebrities, are both attacked more harshly for being arrogant, deserved or not than their white counterparts, as well as that quite a few Black artists use that arrogance in their favour. Muhammed Ali being one example, but check out what they said about Jack Johnson as well.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:33 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kanye West is a jerk, just like anyone in the hip-hop or any other scene who have used their manufactured stardom (because, that's just what is is!) to denigrate women.

Ok lets do a quick history lessson. Its 2004 gangster rap has hit apogee but 50 cent is still famous for those 6 bullets that a harder MFer put in em. That is his main selling point on the other hand we have Kanye with his teddy bear. If you were going to make a musical product to sell in 2004 it would not have been Kanye West. You might have waited till his jaw healed before you put out his record. You might have asked him. Manufactured artists don't spend six years making beats in order to make it. If you think I'm crazy let me just give you his production classics. Songs he wasn't on.
The highlights: Izzo, Takeover,Girls Girls Girls, 03 Bonnie and Clyde, Get By, Stand Up,Encore You don't know my name, Lets Get Lifted, Used to Love you.

Before you say some shit like that do your research
posted by Rubbstone at 11:39 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, I should correct my last post. I did ask for an argument that Kanye isn't great. However that argument would not require "proving a negative" in the sense of a logically impossible task.

Rather, my question points towards a an argument under modus tollens, the valid argument form also known as "denying the consequent." It's not different than proving that Kanye West is not, say, a 1938 Studebaker.

To prove the claim, "Kanye West is not a 1938 Studebaker," we would first define the qualities and properties necessary to declare something a "1938 Studebaker," we then compare those to the qualities of Kanye West. Amoment's thought will show that we can very easily prove that Kanye West is not a 1938 Studebaker by means of a simple argument from inference.

Here, the path towards a valid response would be to define the qualities and elements of musical greatness, and then show how Kanye West fails to match any of those qualities.
posted by kewb at 11:41 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know now I'm remembering Tyler the Creator and OFWGKTA and the reaction they get here and I don't know what to think. I guess I'm not gonna argue about questionable content in the lyrics, it's kinda undeniable for 95% of hip hop and Kanye and OFWGKTA are not exceptional in that sense. I just find these conversations frustrating because so often it turns into "this guy is the bestest rapper/producer ever and no one ever did anything as good and it's totally original and the things you think are weaknesses are really seekrit covert burns on you" and then I'm like "well hold on a minute, so-and-so did this back when and truthfully he is kinda being a jerk and..." "NO WRONG SHUT UP OLD MAN!"
posted by Hoopo at 12:00 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread is going to become the go-to example of Kanye's James Joyce-esque "love him or hate him but impossible to ignore him" place in music history. There is certainly the sense that people arguing so vehemently against his so-called greatness simply affirm it in their vehemence. The non-great artists are the ones no one can muster the passion to yell about.

Kanye West is an extremely interesting artist whose work has evolved in very interesting ways over the years. I always think that is an underrated indicator of talent - the way artists evolve and commit wholly to themselves and their work at different stages of their lives and careers. It's actually kind of a rare thing.

His self-love is not without a good amount of self reflection and shame and all other manners of ways of thinking about oneself in history and art. When people pull-quote things, or simply barf up what other people have written about him, or base their entire view point off of some incident they read about on the HuffPo, I think they miss sort of the spectrum of nuance in Kanye's work. His output is not monolithic. He uses all sorts of hyperbole to convey a lot of modes of being and thinking about himself. And because it's hip hop and because it's his personal experience, it takes on forms, ie I am a God, New Slaves, whatever, that people are going to take issue with. Which I think sort of misses the broader project.

I also think it's very weird when folks get caught up in the art ought to tell us how to act way of thinking. It is true that there is something we want to tie aesthetics and ethics together with - they're both sort of seemingly vague and subjective, at least on the surface, they both have something to do with what is good or right or whatever, but there is no reason at all why art ought to be tied to ethics. This used to be The Way, in Greece, certainly, in Europe in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is odd to me that, especially when it comes to discussions of hip hop, some people still feel this ought to be the way things are done.

Everyone is free to love or hate whatever they do. But really, before you start railing against Kanye, at least do him the justice of listening to his oeuvre. Go listen to Dropout and Late Registration and 808s and MBDTF. This is a man creating himself imperfectly through the creation of some incredible and some incredibly flawed music. But it is no doubt very creative, very provocative, and Kanye's self-image, which I do not doubt is actually more conflicted than the one he portrays in interviews with the NYT, is nonetheless deservedly full of amour propre.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:06 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Manufactured by who exactly? Record companies (and Jay-Z himself) worried that Kanye wasn't "street enough" to make it as a solo artist and yet he has made a career of progressively distancing himself from the mainstream idea of what "street" is, drawing from a wide variety of unexpected influences in disparate media

Very true. He says it himself in I Am A God. "Since the tight jeans they never liked you, pink-ass polos with a fucking backpack, but everyone knows you brought real rap back"

Backpack has a very specific meaning within hip hop culture. He fought an uphill battle to be signed as a rapper even though he was an incredibly successful producer already. It was largely the fact that Jay-Z could not lose Kanye as a producer that he signed him as a rapper.

Anyway people seem to be unaware of Kanye's contribution to music before he even started rapping.

Look at his Production Discography. He produced The Blueprint. That alone makes all the arguments that he is a talentless manufactured celebrity invalid. Watch Izzo, a song Kanye West produced. He makes an appearance at the end of the video. How many record producers are beloved enough to appear in music videos.

He was a legitimate star before he even started rapping on the strength of his production. A lot of people seem to forget this. As he says "act like I aint have a belt in two classes"
posted by Ad hominem at 12:08 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah nobody is going to win this argument. I'm just going to go listen to some good clean music, maybe Brown Sugar, it's about candy right?
posted by Ad hominem at 12:10 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Backpack has a very specific meaning within hip hop culture.

And he is 100% right that the backpackers turned on him when he got famous. The underground loved Kanye when he made "Get By" for Talib Kweli
posted by Hoopo at 12:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


He produced for Dead Prez too.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:17 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


But you guys seem to love to make it so.

I'm not sure who "you guys" is but, for the record, I'm white, I listen to Kanye occasionally and find him mostly okay, I don't know anybody in this thread besides Rory, and have from comment one been arguing my own opinion. And, no, I don't particularly relish making things racial: I'd much rather talk about whether or not Kanye's adept at writing metaphor, but this is the card I drew.
posted by Apropos of Something at 12:21 PM on June 23, 2013


And they are now engaged

This is a big step for a guy who's view of marriage is so bleak.

"we are the voices of our parents bad choices, the aftermath of divorces, the kids of bitter split-ups and baby sitters, grand parents that don't know what to do with us"

Poor guy. I hope he finds happiness and doesn't fuck this up because of his baggage.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:42 PM on June 23, 2013


Not the point. The point is that Prince in the eighties was both immensely popular (like Kanye West) and highly reviled, written off as an oversexed clown, misogynist, arrogant douche, full of himself, etc, etc, also like Kanye West. In the end Prince withdrew, while Kanye West seems to have learned from him and others, to have kept more control over his career and take the hatred and feed on it.

Prince's "withdrawal" period didn't start until about 13 years into his career, so Kanye's got a way to go if you want to compare him to Prince in that regard. In fact, if you want to compare him to Prince, he's got a long way to go in EVERY regard. Which is not to say that Kanye isn't the best at what he does currently working, it's just to say that Prince is a once-in-hundred-years level talent.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:45 PM on June 23, 2013


Kanye does disrespect women in his lyrics, but as a feminist who loves his music, the way he constantly gets called out for misogyny in this very "full stop, end of" kind of a way strikes me as bizarre. Like, that is all you notice about Kanye West? He has so much to say about race, materialism, success, doubt, ambition. And there is so much else in pop culture more sexist and toxic than anything in his work. For so many people to treat misogyny as the most salient thing about Kanye seems like a sign of a culture that still has trouble understanding hip hop, if not black art generally, as anything other than essentially brutish.

And somebody said upthread: "That's why he's a punchline--because he deserves to be. Eminem was also called out for his statements about women repeatedly", but that comparison is an injustice in itself. Kanye has nothing - absolutely nothing - like Eminem's rage and hatred for women. Kim Mathers had to deal with terrifying shit like this in song after song; Kim Kardashian does not. Next to Eminem, Kanye is a little lamb. That should go without saying, and yet.

One of my sweetest guilty pleasures is Bittersweet Poetry, the one weepy product of Kanye's strange, brief love affair with John Mayer leading up to Late Registration, which ultimately ended up being a bonus track on Graduation. He makes it difficult for me, because I couldn't call it unfair for anyone to tune out after he goes, "Have you ever felt you ever want to kill her?" or "I'd never hit a girl but I'll shake the shit out of you", but personally, fuck that. Pop music encourages such incredible solipsism, with its three-minute songs, about love, in the first-person. The ones that are about "you" are actually the most about "me". So I'm always moved to hear Kanye turn around in the second verse of this dopey song and become his girlfriend, taking up her perspective so sincerely, accusing himself so hard, making no excuses for the way he's been.

And I always thought that you having my child was our destiny
But I can't even vibe with you sexually
Cause every time that I try you would question me
Saying, "You fucking them girls, disrespecting me?
"You don't see how your lies is affecting me?
"You don't see how our life was supposed to be?
"And I never let a nigga get that close to me
"And you ain't cracked up to what you were supposed to be
You always gone, you always be where them hoes be"
And this the first time she ever spilled her soul to me
I fucked up and I know it, G


The man has a lot of feelings. He's not just some horrible ego-beast. Yes, he has a deep and truly absurd interest in himself, but there's something else about him, which simultaneously explains most of his outrageous behaviour and, even more than his genius, I think, inspires so many people to defend it: He's just so earnest sometimes. He cares about stupid things like whether the best music video gets the appropriate recognition from MTV. He cares about serious things, like George Bush's neglect in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, in an artless and emotional way. He also cares enormously about what other people are doing and thinking, which is evident in his music, both in his lyrics and in the unexpected sources he draws on to make it. I wish people would give him more of a chance, because there's a lot about him to like - more than many artists who seem, on the surface, to be much humbler and nicer.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:04 PM on June 23, 2013 [18 favorites]


Well that sold me. I'm never going to say b-but he produced The Blueprint ever again, just link to that comment.

Yeezus is sometimes a loving god, see he even wishes all his subjects a good weekend. And then Diddy dances his jet dance.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:03 PM on June 23, 2013


two or three cars parked under the stars: He's just so earnest sometimes. He cares about stupid things like whether the best music video gets the appropriate recognition from MTV. He cares about serious things, like George Bush's neglect in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, in an artless and emotional way. He also cares enormously about what other people are doing and thinking, which is evident in his music, both in his lyrics and in the unexpected sources he draws on to make it. I wish people would give him more of a chance, because there's a lot about him to like - more than many artists who seem, on the surface, to be much humbler and nicer.

He also seems to care a lot about helping men think about and treat women like whores and dirty bitches in a big, big way, doesn't he? In fairness, you already said that, but it appears that all of Kanye's "other qualities" the ones he so cleverly mixes into his marketing persona and his music and that also "play" in his music, are things you're willing to forget because his music has some strong hooks.

Reading this thread, I think what most Kanye fans seem to like is the rather obtuse angle that West projects in his music and his persona. He certainly is unique in that combination, relative to most of the other low-rent commercial hip-hop artists out there. Combined, that's a perfect angle for the music marketing machine to play on. And, yes, Kanye is not only playing his music, which I consider to be crap, but he's playing his fans, too. And, he's loving it all the way to the bank. Even in marriage, he's playing his fans, by marrying someone who is more at a right angle to community-knitting social norms than most. Perfectly consistent.

Here's the bottom line about why I revile Kanye West, and a lot of other so-called artists who use the music media marketing machine to leverage misogyny and other forms of human badness is that he uses the beat, the sacred beat (yes, the beat is sacred to me) to accomplish that, and make reams of money from it. West is a unique combination of outrage and sickening narcissistic self-love, perfectly tuned and using the beat - one of the the most compelling attention-getters there are, to make a pile of cash. And I'm supposed to separate his clever marketing of all his personal and music outrage, to make a pile of cash, from the message he puts out there. West and his music and his outrage and his self-professed narcissism are one - you can't separate them. Anyone who does separate them out is engaging in hagiography of the most extreme kind, and in doing so willing to overlook what a cockeyed loser West is.

A perfect example of this outsized hagiography is comparing West with Prince, or Miles. That's the most ridiculous thing I've yet seen on this thread, a thread sparked by an even more ridiculous attempt to use "critical theory" to rationalize the crap that West puts out there.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:20 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh yeezus christ this thread is hopeless.
posted by milarepa at 2:48 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Kanye West is not a Jackass.

I have always enjoyed Kanye's work, and I can say that comfortably as a feminist. He plays with his lyrics from many different viewpoints on any given topic. If you take a listen through, you'll see what I mean. Half the time he is beating himself up, rest of the time he is illustrating the connection between societal expectations and his own behaviour, and the hypocrisy that he knows he commits on a regular basis. In terms of arrogance, yeah, he has all kinds of bravado and swagger, some of it real, but a lot of comes off as a front - and you can see that in his lyrics. Go check out All Falls Down, and especially Can't Tell Me Nothing..... Heck, the whole Graduation album is a beautiful dichotomy of arrogance and insecurity, well worth a thorough listen.

As for the entire "300" debate upthread, a rhyme isn't any good if you can't spin it at least 3 ways. Obviously, he knows about Sparta - hilarious to presume differently. Double meanings, entendre, references to your peeps, the whole gamut is what makes up a fantastic line. Kanye delivers some of the best and worst rhymes in rap - that is what makes his music and commentary so interesting.

I am looking forward to hearing the new album all the way through it.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 2:55 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Very true, nobody can beat prince at sexual imagery. "52 positions in a one night stand" and "Cream, get on top, cream don't you stop, Cream shaboogie bop" pure genius, what's Kanye got compared to that.

You are being a little hyperbolic there, you are saying we already got Ralph Ellison so we don't need Iceberg Slim. These dudes are not simply representatives of their race.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:56 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


and especially Can't Tell Me Nothing

Remember when Metafilter Loved Kanye after his Zach Galifinackis and Bonny Prince Billy video for that song?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:58 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Still one of THE BEST VIDEOS OF ALL TIME!

(I loved it :) )

Here's a link to the full Graduation album. I found it took 2-3 good listens to pick up all the lyrics, and I still find new bits in it every time I listen. I'm sure you'll hate some of it, and love some of it... and maybe that is the whole point of his persona. Cocky or not, Kanye has something to say that might resonate with you, or at least make you think.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 3:01 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cocky or not, Kanye has something to say that might resonate with you, or at least make you think.

Uh, don't tell Vibrissae that.
posted by kbanas at 3:11 PM on June 23, 2013


Also, that video is amazing. I really want to hang out with Zach Galifinackis at his farm now. We could pet some cows and stuff. No big thing.
posted by kbanas at 3:12 PM on June 23, 2013


two or three cars parked under the stars: "He cares about stupid things like whether the best music video gets the appropriate recognition from MTV."

I guess he truly is the Steve Jobs of music. He's got the reality distortion field to prove it.
posted by gertzedek at 3:18 PM on June 23, 2013


a rhyme isn't any good if you can't spin it at least 3 ways

That's not even remotely true
posted by Hoopo at 3:22 PM on June 23, 2013


^maybe not ANY good, but that kind of play makes for one heck of a dialogue - and he does it often.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 3:27 PM on June 23, 2013


I can agree with that; it's probably Jay-Z's influence because he does that too. It is hard to pull off though and if you are trying too hard sometimes you fudge it a little and wind up with Romans and it doesn't completely work. Whatever, part of Kanye's appeal is that he's always trying to go big and you can't say he's not trying.
posted by Hoopo at 3:37 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well I'm thinking like 2-3 levels of meaning. Pusha T is like that, lines like "you better off selling this hard now", except is is almost always about drugs.

But take Jay's verse off No Church in the Wild he says

"I'm out here balling, I know y'all hear my sneaks".

He could balling, as in playing basketball, and you hear his sneakers on the gym floor from the next room.

But he could also be out balling, you can't really see him balling cuz you aren't on his level, but you can hear him because he raps about it.

But also wtf is a sneak you can hear, you aren't supposed to hear sneaks, until they snuck up on you and have a knife at your thoat that is.

And that isn't even the middle of the mall shit they have on Rapgenius.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:39 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vibrissae: "He also seems to care a lot about helping men think about and treat women like whores and dirty bitches in a big, big way, doesn't he?"

No. You literally have no idea what you're talking about. Seriously. No idea. The fact that you have not adduced even one single piece of evidence for this outlandish point of view of yours is only the most glaring indication that you know not whereof you speak.

"A perfect example of this outsized hagiography is comparing West with Prince, or Miles. That's the most ridiculous thing I've yet seen on this thread, a thread sparked by an even more ridiculous attempt to use "critical theory" to rationalize the crap that West puts out there."

Okay, look - this was the point at which I knew for sure that you really aren't even being honest with yourself. Miles Davis? Miles fucking Davis, the most famous, most blatant misogynist ever to make it big as a jazz artist? Miles fucking Davis, an asshole and a conman who literally bragged, in print, in his autobiography, about how he'd used physical violence to put women in their place? Where exactly are you going with this, then? Miles Davis is no saint. He's not even a very good trumpet player, if we're going to talk about technical ability here. And, more to the point, he did more to normalize and spread acceptance of domestic violence and misogyny than any other jazz musician in history.

I short, I'm not sure why anyone brought him up as an example of what you called "GREAT black artists." He has an important place in jazz - he changed the music in a profound way, and he fostered a lot of young musicians; even someone like myself who's not a huge Davis fan has to admit that. But "GREATness," or whatever? On a human level, no. I think in a lot of ways he was a bad influence on a human level.

All of this is not to say that Kanye is a saint, either. It's also not to say that his musical ability is the same as Miles'. Personally I find the comparison kind of absurd. I don't like Kanye much as a person, but he is clearly a more decent human being than Miles was; anyone who thinks otherwise either doesn't know Kanye or doesn't know Miles.

Either way - please, Vibrissae, for the love of Pete, go listen to the album at least once through before you continue saying silly things about it.
posted by koeselitz at 3:43 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


It amuses me how many points on both sides of the Kanye discussion are supported by quotes from his self-authored mythology.
posted by yonega at 4:00 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


(yes, the beat is sacred to me)

A joker!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:05 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It amuses me how many points on both sides of the Kanye discussion are supported by quotes from his self-authored mythology

Hey, I'm quoting his songs. Kanye West is the ultimate authority on being Kanye West. Are we supposed to doubt him?
posted by Ad hominem at 4:05 PM on June 23, 2013


Are we supposed to doubt him?

Well, in a way, yeah- because he doubts himself all over the place, which is a lot of what I find interesting about him- the thread here is kind of infuriating, all this stuff about him promoting misogyny or whatever- it's kinda boilerplate 'this is why I don't have to take rap seriously' stuff.

If one doesn't want to either listen to his stuff, or take anybody elses' word for why *they* find it worthwhile (hint: it's probably not because we're all MONSTERS), I'm not sure why one bothers commenting.

Leaving aside the hook of Runaway, in which he calls himself a lot of what some few people here have (douchebag/asshole/scumbag/jerk-off), how bout the earlier verse-
I don't know what it is with females
But I'm not too good with that shit
See, I could have me a good girl
And still be addicted to them hoodrats
And I just blame everything on you
At least you know that's what I'm good at
I ain't saying that's Proust, but it sounds like a guy who - self-aggrandizing as it's mostly his job to be- is well-aware of his faults, and not trying to explain them away or brag on 'em or whatever. That might not be the sort of stuff non-fans might expect to find in rap lyrics, but it's part of why I've been listening to at least some of it for a very long time now.

Of course I'm cherry-picking that lyric, and yeah he's said a lot of dopey shit- who hasn't? - but seriously, anybody going on about how I dunno dumb and non-self-aware of an asshole the guy is, might as well be commenting on youtube, not metafilter.
posted by hap_hazard at 4:29 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


He's not even a very good trumpet player, if we're going to talk about technical ability here.

You can hear it's Miles in 3 notes. This completely transcends any question of technique. Gone beyond.
posted by Wolof at 4:33 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, in a way, yeah- because he doubts himself all over the place

Well yeah ok. I understand he is first and foremost a psychological rapper, in the vien of Scarface, Tyler, Eminem etc. Self Doubt and even self loathing is bread and butter for these guys.

There is also an element of Personal Mythology, a phrase borrowed for the art world, that many artists indulge in. A way to preserve a psychological distance. Like Eminem's Slim Shady persona, or Tyler's Sam persona, or Nicky Minaj's Roman persona.

I wasn't talking about that, I was just saying that one of the founding tenets of metafilter's brand of ernestness is "believe what people say about themselves". It is the reason we don't call people trolls.

If people think Kanye is constructing some kind of self serving mythos, not as a psychological defense mechanism, but as a way to outright decieve people.

Well, we should give Kanye the same courtesy we give everyone else.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:47 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem, wasn't disagreeing w/ you, rather trying to take off from there- if people who don't even listen to him, want to accuse him w/ the things he's said about himself, they should be aware of the other things he's also said, which acknowledge and appear to agree with the accusations, is all.

As far as I can tell, I agree with pretty much all the stuff you've ever said about Kanye, you seem to know a lot more about hip-hop than I do, and the depth of insight you bring to these discussions is, sadly often, like brining a Predator drone to a knife-fight.

But then again, that's one of the fun things about Kanye, is that in the grand tradition of NWA, Public Enemy, Eminem, hell 2 Live Crew for that matter, everybody gets to have an opinion about it no matter whether they have any idea what they're talking about or not.

It's just fucking frustrating that after 100 years of blues songs, after 40 years of Mick Jagger pretending to be the Boston Strangler and the devil, people don't seem to have any grasp of that Personal Mythology, or ironic distance, or maybe art at all. I expect it from my 94 year old grandmother maybe, but around here, it disappoints me.
posted by hap_hazard at 5:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


But then again, that's one of the fun things about Kanye, is that in the grand tradition of NWA, Public Enemy, Eminem, hell 2 Live Crew

I'm trying to think of an emo rapper from New York and I can't think of one.

Kanye has a lot of the psychological rap roots that come from Detroit or Texas, but has also been around New York rappers who are usually overtly political or brag rappers for a long long time.

Jay-Z has had his "god name" for like 10 years already says outright crazy stuff like he might buy Koch, and never seems to have any problems or doubt he is goat.

Where is Charlemagne in Sweatpants, are any of the A$AP guys emo?
posted by Ad hominem at 5:24 PM on June 23, 2013


Two points:

1: I watched Django the other night and the bit where Jamie Foxx is on the horse and dressed up like the baddest motherfucker on the planet, pretty much, and some awesome yet anachronistic rap kicks in explained a lot about the black experience to me.

and

2: Also, a lot of the respect Prince has gotten from the (white) music press and critics seems to have come only after he was no longer a threat, had withdrawn himself.

This is a hypnotically terrible opinion.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:49 PM on June 23, 2013


koeselitz:Vibrissae: "He also seems to care a lot about helping men think about and treat women like whores and dirty bitches in a big, big way, doesn't he?"

No. You literally have no idea what you're talking about. Seriously. No idea. The fact that you have not adduced even one single piece of evidence for this outlandish point of view of yours is only the most glaring indication that you know not whereof you speak.


Really? What about this quote from this piece

"But it’s hard to gloss over lyrics like “Black girl sippin’ white wine/put my fist in her like a civil rights sign” or “Eating Asian pu**y/All I need was sweet and sour sauce.”

Or how about this little gem from the “feel good” track “Bound 2” at the end of the album? “One good girl is worth a thousand b*tches.” How poignant. Surely he whispers that girl-power anthem to his newborn daughter every night before bed."


I've seen and heard a lot of other stuff like this in Kanye's "art" - more than the hagiographic fans onthis thread think. I stopped listening because Kanye is really "more of the same". It's about difference for the sake of difference, as long as it serves Kanye.

Look, Kanye West is an overproduced sociopathic hip-hopper who has figured out how to "read" his audience. He knows what they want; he knows how to shock; he knows how to deconstruct and then use those deconstructions to his further advantage. Kanye West is one shallow dude - just one more punk ass with bling and an attitude, as far as I and a LOT of other people are concerned.

He's used his ability to read an audience, and his lyrical talent (which is FAR from legion) to drag down women and prop himself up doing so.

Anyway, Kanye West is rich and loves the kind of thing that goes on in this thread; after all, it's all about him - which as bottom, is all that Kanye West, like any other sociopath, is all about.

btw, someone up above talked about what a misogynist Miles Davis was. I agree; I also agree that David is somewhat overrated in the world of jazz. That said, he was a great musician, and in no way belongs in the lower class that KW finds himself in.

The beat goes on, and it will - mark my words, in the long term - forget about Kanye West.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:31 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The beat goes on, and it will - mark my words, in the long term - forget about Kanye West.

Damn, there is a good chance the beat may learn about rappers like
Gucci Man and Chief Keef and you may be stuck hearing people rap about their tints and whipping water.

Cuz the shit Kanye raps about isn't shocking to anyone. I mean who thinks fisting is shocking, we probably have askmes about it.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:53 PM on June 23, 2013


never seems to have any problems or doubt he is goat.

He's never been my fave, but he does have a better claim than most to "best of the moment." Consensus has him on top of that feud with Nas, who was pretty much considered the other contender at the time, and I don't think anyone has tried to challenge that yet.
posted by Hoopo at 6:53 PM on June 23, 2013


Oh good. Calling a celebrity none of us have ever met a sociopath. That can't possibly end poorly, or be easily conflated with the systematic over-labeling of black men as having personality disorders.
posted by Apropos of Something at 7:02 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


He's never been my fave, but he does have a better claim than most to "best of the moment." Consensus has him on top of that feud with Nas, who was pretty much considered the other contender at the time, and I don't think anyone has tried to challenge that yet.

I don't know about that. Ethered is a synonym for bodied. Not to mention there are persistent rumors there is a much harder unreleasd version Columbia records wouldn't release. That was a long time ago and they are BFFs now.

I'm just saying that Jay has had Jayhova for a long time and nobody called him a sociopath.

Maybe it is all perception. When he says he's the new Frank Sinatra, people say "yeah, maybe". I don't think Yeezy could get away with that.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:10 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to think of an emo rapper from New York and I can't think of one.
Jean Grae?
posted by pxe2000 at 7:15 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


International fisting day I take it back some MeFites find fisting shocking.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:16 PM on June 23, 2013


> metafilter is no different than a country music awards show when it comes to appreciating African American artists.

Thanks for assuming we're all racists!

It's nothing to do with "African-American music" - for me, it's specifically hip-hop and rap music that I generally(*) detest, regardless of the color of the performer's skin.

And the truth is that your average listener of rap music is a white kid between 14 and 24. Anecdotally, I know a shitload of African-American musicians, and the majority of them listen to little if any rap - but the demographics are available for anyone to see.

These threads are insufferably tedious to me, because people rarely if every talk about the music. When I ask about musical value, I get quoted guff about "braggadocio" and the lyrics, but no one ever explains why I should musically care for this material, how it advances the cause of music.

Oh, and "shocking"? None of this is "shocking" to the slightest degree. Honestly, I was vaguely surprised the first ten times I heard the word "motherfucker" or listened to someone talk about "bitches" - but that was decades ago.

"Hamburger Lady" still manages to be shocking 30 years later (I defy you to listen to this song all the way through without being disturbed). "Jimi" still has the power to shock or - at least confuse.

None of these rap songs are "shocking" in the slightest. I have trouble even being offended - simple because my opinion of these "artists" is so very low.

No, the word that comes to mind for me is not "shocking" or even "offensive" but "tedious". All this stuff is tedious in the extreme. I do not wish to hear about your penis. I do not wish to hear about your money. I particularly do not want to hear a recitation of designer brand names. I do not want to hear you turn on the drum machine and blather about all these things over a generic beat.

My opinion of Kanye West and many other rappers is "Completely lacking in imagination, creativity or musical value" - if I had to pick one word it would again be "tedious".

If this stuff "shocks" you, or you have the opinion that any adult is really shocked by this, well, you need to live some more.

(* - with of course exceptions including but not limited to Saul Williams, Aesop Rock, the Roots and a bunch of classics.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:06 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


These threads are insufferably tedious to me

And I'm certain you make them so much less so for everyone else.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:14 PM on June 23, 2013


The beat goes on, and it will - mark my words, in the long term - forget about Kanye West.

Come on. Just tell us you don't like him cuz he's a brother...both you and Oasis.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:35 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe it is all perception. When he says he's the new Frank Sinatra, people say "yeah, maybe". I don't think Yeezy could get away with that.

Sinatra, sure, but he also claimed to be "rap's Grateful Dead" and that is where I draw the line!
posted by Lorin at 8:39 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some rap is shocking. Like when Lil durk says "I represent 300, add a K you're through. I'm in the field, cuz this is what I want"

We talk a lot about the death of the middle class, but what about a generation of kids that had no hope to begin with. Kids that thought, just like Kanye, they would be dead by 25.

You think a kid who thinks he will be dead by 25 gives a shit you disapprove of his Gucci glasses and his True Religion Jeans. Like French Montana said "this coupe half a mil, fuck how you feel"

It saddens me that Metafilter doesn't even care enough to listen to what they have to say.

Or even what Kanye has been saying in just about the most polite way he knows how.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:41 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


And that Anil Dash tweet is vapid, the kind of pseudofeminist brownie scoring with no actual thought behind it.

Jesus buttspelunking Christ, it's no wonder so many MeFites eventually just stop coming here. If you're going to sling insults at people (including other members of this site), may I suggest that you get on the twitter and do it directly at them, hashtag-to-hashtag (or whatever the kids are saying these days) rather than just being a dick sub rosa in random Metafilter threads?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:00 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


no one ever explains why I should musically care for this material, how it advances the cause of music.

The music moves you or it doesn't. I'm really not sure how someone can explain music into you. Advancing the cause of music seems like a pretty bizarre concept though.
posted by Hoopo at 9:03 PM on June 23, 2013


Actually, that's unfair. I shouldn't say Metafilter doesn't care because I'm sure you all do. I just wish people would dig a bit deeper into what is being said in rap music. We did it for punk rock right?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:03 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kids that thought, just like Kanye, they would be dead by 25.

I thought Kanye was speaking on behalf of other people with that. Wasn't his upbringing pretty comfortable and privileged?
posted by Hoopo at 9:10 PM on June 23, 2013


If you are getting hung up on the music aspect, try thinking of it as spoken word performance art over a beat, maybe.

If we tore up all the art except the Rembrandts that are seen as "fine art" with value, we would all be missing out. Try thinking of rap as awesome abstract, if that helps.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 9:12 PM on June 23, 2013


I thought Kanye was speaking on behalf of other people with that. Wasn't his upbringing pretty comfortable and privileged?

I don't know his life story by yeah his mom was a college professor if you can call that privileged. There is a lot of argument about how old he was when she got that job. Some say he was already grown. He does say he was on welfare and got food stamps etc.

He certainly isn't street. But his buddy Really Doe, who was featured on some of his tracks, was supposedly some kind of Omar style stickup guy. I don't think he was a total stranger to crime.

But really, if he says "we weren't supposed to make it past 25" why would he think he was any different.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:31 PM on June 23, 2013


is that he uses the beat, the sacred beat (yes, the beat is sacred to me) to accomplish that, and make reams of money from it

This is hilarious. It's like all of the folks who stood around after the beginning of Beethoven's first symphony and were like, gasp, did he really use a dominant seventh right there at the beginning? I just can't believe he would do that! Did Kanye really use common time for his shenanigans? How dare he! I mean, seriously. "The beat," whatever that even means, is not some holy medium for delivering moral lessons to the masses.

Okay. Something I think is interesting is the comparison throughout the thread to Miles. It is actually a pretty interesting parallel, only in the sense that here are two artists who are not all that technically capable but who still manage to make really expressive, creative stuff - and in fact even use their shortcomings as the very basis for their genius. I've got serious respect for that. I love Jay-Z, and certainly this isn't at all a perfect comparison, but Jay-Z is a bit like Kanye's Dizzy. He's got the masterful technique, the unmatched flow, the popular opinion - he is the 'master' rapper of our time (and oh, how I do love Jay-Z, no doubt). And then you have Kanye - actually not all that great a rapper. His voice sucks (by his own admission, and part of why he made 808s, because of his "interest in what he's bad at"), and yet he finds interesting ways to be creative not just despite his shortcomings but built on them. I mean, no one other than Kanye could make Kanye's stuff, and that's a good quality to have.

I dunno - I think the tension in art between the sort of ineffable, creative impulse or whatever and craft is always really interesting. There's something so alluring about those artists who gave the finger to all the craft-loving haters and made great stuff despite.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:06 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus buttspelunking Christ, it's no wonder so many MeFites eventually just stop coming here. If you're going to sling insults at people (including other members of this site), may I suggest that you get on the twitter and do it directly at them, hashtag-to-hashtag (or whatever the kids are saying these days) rather than just being a dick sub rosa in random Metafilter threads?

Why the fuck would I want to do that? Anil Dash's tweet was brought up in this thread in the very first comment as a massive derail going into the familiar territory of lolKanye, a pious bit of cheap moral superiority. It didn't add anything to the discussion, doesn't say anything new or interesting about Kanye West or his music and as a finger wagging exercise it requires no courage whatsoever.

And yes, it was a point scoring exercise, both the original tweet and docgonzo's reposting it here, something pithy that you can favourite and not think about. It could've just as easily been said by a Tory MP on Question Time debeting the moral degeneration of today's youfh.

And no, it's not an insult to say this.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:08 PM on June 23, 2013


Why the fuck would I want to do that?

I don't know. I also don't know why you took a big crap on him here.

Shrug.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:14 PM on June 23, 2013


You do know; I just told you.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:18 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


do you know that Anil dash is a fan or at least respects Kanye's talent a great deal? he's a big banger of the drum that people, specifically artists, that aren't white are held to a tougher standard. I feel his calling out of bigotry is measured and fair every time I've seen it. discounting him, his reputation, and the other things he's said about Kanye this week alone to call his tweet a cheap shot seems like, well, a cheap shot
posted by nadawi at 11:28 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]



These threads are insufferably tedious to me, because people rarely if every talk about the music. When I ask about musical value, I get quoted guff about "braggadocio" and the lyrics, but no one ever explains why I should musically care for this material, how it advances the cause of music.

Well, first of all, if rap fans focus on lyrics all the time, it's because they're constantly put on the defensive by skeptics who refuse to even consider the music until their arbitrarily-applied ideological standards are met. Whoops, he went and said "bitch" - next!

Kanye West is just one musician, doing that thing musicians do. He does not just rap over generic beats. He has ambitious ideas and he works meticulously to make them real. He devotes himself to making the music he wants to make, but it isn't some enchanted angel-song that everyone is bound to enjoy. So it doesn't really make sense for me to attempt to justify its existence. Like any music, its 'value' is going to be estimated differently by each listener. We can argue, but there's no point. (It all kind of reminds me of 'debates' about the legitimacy of African-American Vernacular English [or in my region, various creoles and less-prestigious dialects]. As if it might actually be determined in the end that, no, 'ain't' could not be permitted. These things just are.)

I will say that, starting with Graduation, whenever Kanye has released a track from a new album, people have lined up to go 'what the fuck' (though as he's proved himself each time, he's gotten more and more credit). When 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' and 'Stronger' came out, tons of people thought he'd utterly lost the plot. Same with 'Love Lockdown' and 'Heartless'. Same even with 'Power'. And the further we get from those releases, the more ridiculous that feels - pop music just sounds like that now. There's nothing odd about those songs any more, and he's the one who made it that way. He's been ridiculously influential, and he's honestly headed places, whether you're interested in going along with him or not.

Personally, I find a lot of Kanye's music thrilling and beautiful, and it has certainly been important to me. 'Runaway' has overcome me in the street. I don't know how to make that happen for anyone else.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:59 PM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Something I think is interesting is the comparison throughout the thread to Miles. It is actually a pretty interesting parallel, only in the sense that here are two artists who are not all that technically capable but who still manage to make really expressive, creative stuff - and in fact even use their shortcomings as the very basis for their genius. I've got serious respect for that

Talk about "hilarious"! Ha! First, we get a bonehead like Kanye West getting compared to a raw genius like Miles (even though I don't dig Miles like some of my fellow musicians do), then we get another comparison that tries to make Kanye west's shortcomings similar in value to Miles shortcomings, as if they are kind of, well, equal in that respect. Nice try, but no cigar. Kanye West's shortcomings are embedded in his self-prepossessing persona, in his crap music, and his (I love this) tedious meme (thanks, lupus_yonderboy - you said it way better than I did!).
posted by Vibrissae at 2:45 AM on June 24, 2013


Vibrissae,

Why are you on this thread? You seem to hate Kanye like he is the reason for everything bad in the world. That's fine and all, but nobody really wants to hear it because they don't appreciate your reasons.

This thread has derailed off its original topic and then went on another...and now the focus is on "vibrissae's scorn for Kanye because he messed with 'the sacred beat' (!).

Just stop.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:36 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


musical taste is such a personal thing. the quickest way to get me to stop listening to someone's opinion on the topic (or on art in general) is to say "it's crap" in such an overreaching way. you may dislike it. you might think his beats are trite, his flow is weak, his gimmicks are poor. you might think he's a misogynist, reverse racist, narcissist. you might think he is literally the pied piper, leading the world's young off a cliff. fine, whatever. but to just say it's crap - like anyone who has found enjoyment out of it is unable to discern good from bad - that's just silly.

love or hate (or don't care about) his music, kanye is a supremely talented motherfucker. that is something that isn't really up for debate.
posted by nadawi at 7:14 AM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Vibrissae: "He also seems to care a lot about helping men think about and treat women like whores and dirty bitches in a big, big way, doesn't he?"

me: “No. You literally have no idea what you're talking about. Seriously. No idea. The fact that you have not adduced even one single piece of evidence for this outlandish point of view of yours is only the most glaring indication that you know not whereof you speak.”

Vibrissae: “Really? What about this quote from this piece...”

Okay, a couple of things.

First of all, what the hell does it mean to "help men to think about and treat women like whores and dirty bitches"? What exactly is a "whore" or a "dirty bitch," in your parlance? That characterization really bothers me, and to be perfectly frank I find it offensive. The implication is that there is a particular type of woman who actually does deserve to be treated terribly, and that what's wrong is encouraging people to treat all women the way women sex workers or women who have high libidos apparently ought to be treated. I'm hoping that's not actually what you mean. If it isn't actually what you mean, I would suggest maybe revising the way you're talking about this, because it doesn't help.

That is mainly what I meant when I said that I don't think you know what you're talking about. But to be a little more specific to Kanye: I don't think he's "passionate" about "helping men think" about anything in any particular way. That clearly isn't true. I guess you are probably just trying to use another angle of attack to hammer this thing home, but it clearly isn't a correct characterization. He's a misogynist. He is speaking in a misogynist way. Most misogynists don't care how people think about anything. Kanye is no exception.

“I've seen and heard a lot of other stuff like this in Kanye's 'art' - more than the hagiographic fans on this thread think. I stopped listening because Kanye is really 'more of the same'. It's about difference for the sake of difference, as long as it serves Kanye.”

Yeah, I can tell that you stopped listening. The thing is that most of us, when we stop listening, when we refuse to listen to the music of a particular person, generally we refrain from speaking as though we're authorities on the subject.

“Look, Kanye West is an overproduced sociopathic hip-hopper...”

Okay, those last three words you used here: I'm pretty sure you're using at least two of them in a nonstandard way that does a disservice to the meanings they're supposed to indicate. Specifically, I'm not sure you know what "overproduced" generally means. I have no idea what it means to you in this context, anyway; and while I don't mind people using words to mean whatever they choose, I begin to suspect that you simply pulled the term out of the air and applied it to Kanye just because you think it sounds good. Because, if I were going to tear down Kanye's music (and I guess I could) I would use a lot of words – maybe "derivative," or "overreliant on somewhat tired dance music tropes," or "too much in a rush to seem cutting-edge." I am not sure these criticisms really apply, but at least they make sense in the context of how his music actually sounds. But when you call his music "overproduced," it makes me think that either (a) you haven't heard any of his music in a very, very long time or (b) you just like the sound of the word as a criticism. Or maybe both. And your use of the term "sociopathic" just hammers this point home for me.

“Kanye West is one shallow dude - just one more punk ass with bling and an attitude, as far as I and a LOT of other people are concerned.”

There's honestly something offensive in your willingness to characterize another human being as "just one more punk ass with bling and an attitude." It's dismissive and it's kind of offputting, in that you don't really seem at all interested in preserving any kind of dignity or respect in this conversation. I actually can appreciate that you don't like Kanye because he is misogynistic. I have said that over and over and over again in this conversation. I'll be completely honest here: I don't really listen to hip hop for fun anymore. I try to keep up with it, and I kind of like Kendrick Lamar's last record and Chance's Acid Rap thing, but it isn't enjoyable on a day-to-day basis anymore just because I don't have time to deal mentally with the misogyny that seems to be almost everywhere in the music.

But you know what? I recognize that I am not the only human being in the world. I recognize that other people are different from me. I recognize that some people – some women, actually – dislike misogyny just as much but love the music more and are capable of listening to music in a nuanced way and looking past one terrible aspect in order to enjoy the good things. And that's okay. They don't need me to protect them from it. They don't need me to be an angry crusader about the music, which is what I guess you're trying to do here.

Most of all – I'm a bit shocked and saddened when you say that you're a musician. Because I'm a musician too, and as a musician I would hope that you understand the first principle here: musicians are human beings, and human beings make mistakes. Kanye West is rich and famous, yeah, but the fact that someone's rich and famous and sometimes does dumb things doesn't mean they aren't deserving of any respect or dignity as a human being. And your repeated attacks on him – not on his music, which would be understandable and acceptable, but attacks on him, as a person, as a human being – well, yeah, I find that kind of gross. Musicians should know that, even if it's broadly spiritual in a shared way, the music isn't personal, and when you hate the music that doesn't mean you have to abandon all human decency and attack the person. In fact, I would think that that's against the spirit of what music is about.
posted by koeselitz at 8:19 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


One last thing:

Vibrissae: “The beat goes on, and it will - mark my words, in the long term - forget about Kanye West.”

I don't think this can be true – or at least it's not relevant. As far as I can tell, you mean one of two things. You might mean, on the one hand, that the music world in general will forget about Kanye West; in that case, it's utterly irrelevant. People remember all kinds of terrible music; what is remembered and what is forgotten is not by any stretch an indication of quality. I suspect from what you've said that you may be a jazz musician; if so, I feel like you must know this fact as intimately as I do. On the other hand, you might be talking about some spiritual core of music which you call "the beat" – I kind of get that feeling from what you've said here. In that case, I disagree fundamentally with that characterization of what music is and what it's like. I don't believe that music is progressional in character. Every kind of music, every moment of music, has its own quality, and it isn't good or bad just because of when it happened.
posted by koeselitz at 8:26 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


“Kanye West is one shallow dude - just one more punk ass with bling and an attitude, as far as I and a LOT of other people are concerned.”

Me and all my friends think you're wrong.

Hey, making non-arguments and passing biased personal opinions off as fact is fun!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2013


Hey, making non-arguments and passing biased personal opinions off as fact is fun!

You mean like you just did? :)
posted by Vibrissae at 2:34 PM on June 24, 2013


Kanye West in W Magazine.

They shouldn't even have normal journalists write these. Only people who have upped their thinking game to the extend Yeezus has. I'd like to see Yeezus interviewd by Ai Weiwei about art. Yeezus interviewed by Bill Gates on technology, Yeezus interviewed by Obama on politics, interviewed by Steve Reich about music.

Actually I'd like to see Reich compose some pieces for Kanye's next album or maybe WTT 2.

According to the article he is one meeting away from being Walt Disney. He is like a living Don Delillo character and I mean that in the best way possible.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:52 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ad hominem - you are my very favorite part of threads like these. i would watch a weekly power point presentation on pr and career directions for various rappers, making sure that at least one slide per presentation featured kanye.
posted by nadawi at 4:12 PM on June 24, 2013


I think everyone would watch a reality show where Kanye summons the world's formost experts on Mies van der Rohe and they tour Villa Tugendha or discus the IBM Plaza. Or maybe just relax in the studio with Rick Rubin reclined on some kind of banquette.

It might have to be on PBS or something because someone might learn something.

Incidentally, Tyler the Creator says he talks to Kanye almost every day about architecture.

I'm also dead set on somehow getting Steve Reich signed to G.O.O.D music so he can remix My Name is My Name. I want to hear some analog tape loops of Pusha T saying "Ballers, I put numbers on the boards"
posted by Ad hominem at 4:28 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pitchfork The Yeezus Sessions

Justin Vernon: I get along with Kanye really well and I think his musical decisions are exquisite. He feels otherworldly--

Noah Goldstein: I quit there after a year and a half, and said, "The only way I’m ever working in hip-hop again is if I work for Jay-Z and Kanye West.”

Travi$ Scott: I was pretty much homeless when Kanye first flew me to New York. Later on, I was in Miami with 'Ye and Will Smith-- I was playing Will my album, he fucks with it. He's like my homey now.

Look at that. Took in a homeless Travi$ Scott and now Scott is homies with the The Fresh Prince himself.

Yeezus ghostwriter CyHi denies any involvement in the Illuminati.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:12 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeezus ghostwriter CyHi denies any involvement in the Illuminati.

Cyhi says when Ye first came up with his pink polos and skinny jeans nobody would fuck with him. Kinda the way Fifty refused to sign Danny Brown to G-Unit unless he stopped wearing skinny jeans.

We already knew all that, but he also says Kanye's real influence on hip-hop is making it "cool to be you" and opening up a more soulful path in hip-hop that wasn't brag rap, mafia rap, or conscious rap. He says "now everyone is skateboarding" I guess as a reference to Lil Wayne.

The skinny jeans thing is actually pretty funny because this is like a real issue in hip-hop. Like Biggy and Pac wouldn't wear skinny jeans, we shouldn't either. Hov has said he doesn't wear skinny jeans because he can't fit his bankroll in the pockets but Pusha has said something like he wears skinny jeans because he is "hipster like a motherfucker" or something but his brother doesn't approve.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:36 PM on June 24, 2013


You mean like you just did? :)

whoosh
posted by neuromodulator at 5:57 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


You mean like you just did? :)
posted by Vibrissae 3 ½ hours ago [+]


Yeah... I'm starting to see why the nuances of hip-hop seem to elude and upset you. Best of luck.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:06 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]



This is another case among many where I think we white people are holding black people to different standards because the expression of something is marginally different than what we're used to. I can't think of a major 60s or 70s white rock band that wasn't intensely arrogant and beloved for it (hell, Kanye says he's Jesus? Don't forget John said he was bigger than Jesus).

Not to mention: expressions of ego are an inherent part of the genre. They're what makes a lot of the fun songs fun. They're what led us to affirmations drawn from hip hop culture like "hatters gonna hate" that we're now all drawing on as sources of strength. As the man said himself, the same wrongs helped him write the songs.


This is how I got into rap, actually. I love that arrogance! its part of what makes rock and roll and rap and music powerful - the musician is a shaman, and they gather strenght from the audience and project it outward on them. when you listen to Led Zep or Kanye you borrow some of that arrogance for yourself and use it to get you through crap!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:16 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fuck off. You're an asshole. Get over yourselves.

It's mind-boggling that people try and defend these people. You know, I love Charles Bukowski's writing--but the guy was an asshole. Love Philip Roth's books. The guy's a dick. David Milch? My favorite writer. But he's a raging, fucking loon. Batshit crazy.

You can like someone's art without liking them as a person, though admittedly it's hard. When you start rationalizing for celebrities--people you've never met and never will--when they're *taken at their own words*, you've got no perspective and you're acting out fear of being painted with the same brush.

Kanye West doesn't want to be called an arrogant dick, he doesn't need to be white. He needs to stop being an arrogant dick.


Isaac Brock, is that you?

I don't like these people DESPITE being assholes. I like them BECAUSE they're arrogant dicks.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:18 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]



Well, I thought it was pretty misogynist of him to interrupt Taylor Swift's award. And don't play the race card with me. I was PART of the filming of a rap video a few weeks ago.


He was right. The other video deserved to win. That's all that's needed.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ayo hold up, imma let you guys finish fighting but I've just uncovered evidence that skinny jeans are part of the Baphomet agenda. This guy makes a lot of points about the connection between men wearing dresses, satanism and the illuminati. Kanye and A$AP - Baphomet Agenda.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:46 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh shit Kanye wears satanic pants.

Looks like MC Ride isn't just influencing Kanye's music.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:50 PM on June 24, 2013


This isn’t about ego; this is about boldly asserting yourself in a world that is not meant for you. This is a vanity that is rooted in bringing the community up with you.

This is so, so, so important. I've tried to do it on stage to 10 people, and I think its at the heart of the sucess of things like emo and punk and even jokes like Insane Clown Posse. The performer uplifts EVERYBODY.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:54 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I started the Miles/Kanye comparison because Miles struck me as an example of a black male musical artist who is generally acknowledged as a musical genius of one sort or another (if not as a virtuoso musician) who also is widely known as (1) a deeply misogynist son of a bitch and (2) an inveterate self-promoter and narcissist. Also, similar to Kanye, Miles adopted a lot of "street cred" as an adult he might not have earned growing up (really more so for Miles, who was a sort of pampered little sissy boy son of a well-off and well-connected dentist in East St. Louis, Illinois before he split for New York to attend Juilliard, for gosh sakes ... I guess Kanye was on food stamps as a kid, but later wound up living a pretty typical bourgeois American life; correct? I am thinking Miles had to work harder to establish street cred than did Kanye; hell, I probably had more street cred than pretty hands Miles Davis did at age 18).

My point with all that was to hopefully demonstrate making oneself a criminal and acting like an arrogant son of a bitch - even doing so intentionally as a way of establishing "cred" in order to further one's career - did not start with the hip hopsters, nor indeed with Kanye West; and I hoped folks would latch onto Miles as an object lesson ("Well, yeah; I really like Miles Davis's music; and he was a black man who was also a self promoting misogynistic son of a bitch throughout his entire life; so maybe I should cut Kanye West some slack!") Miles was bad - really, really bad (and by that I mean evil and criminal) - in ways Kanye West to my knowledge has never been and never would be. The one possible difference I see is that, as a lyricist who includes misogynistic and violent themes in his songs (i.e., his art) - something even evil, son of a bitch Miles Davis never did, primarily of course because he played trumpet and did not write or sing lyrics of any sort - Kanye might have actually perpetuated or encouraged some level of evil or at least undesirable behavior that Miles did not. I leave that judgment in the capable hands of the other commenters in this thread who know Kanye's work and its societal influence much more intimately than I can or ever likely will.

And another thing; Louis Armstrong was a terrible womanizer, too; and while never a vocal proponent of misogyny, he was really a total son of a bitch, from a personal relations perspective, if you asked his many wives and lovers.

Oh, one other thing; what about Johnny Cash? There's a counter-example of a white musician, in Country music of all things, whose whole professional persona was based on being a dangerous, criminal bad-ass who might kill you as soon as sing to you; and it was a complete put-on, but I still absolutely love it, and love listening to Live at Folsom Prison.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 7:03 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]



Oh, one other thing; what about Johnny Cash? There's a counter-example of a white musician, in Country music of all things, whose whole professional persona was based on being a dangerous, criminal bad-ass who might kill you as soon as sing to you; and it was a complete put-on, but I still absolutely love it, and love listening to Live at Folsom Prison.


Half the country musicians from George Jones on were crazy criminal assholes. Carravagio was a great artist and killed somebody. I dunno... maybe I'm stil in the rockist authenticity mode but all the pearl clutching about an ARROGANT MUSICIAN just strikes me as bizarre. Not everybody just listens to Bon Iver, even if Kanye is a fan.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:15 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been holding this back for a long time but I feel like I need to come forward with this explosive evidence that metafilter favorite Azealia Banks is herself an occultists and possible illuminati puppet.

At 1:34 of this video for Liquorice, and this is off Bank's official Vevo channel, Bank's clearly hold horns to her head while rapping about a black cat.

There is plenty of occult imagery throughout Yung Rapunxel but perhaps the most striking is the image of the Owl. I don't need to tell anyone here that the Owl god is worshiped by the illuminati front group Bohemian Grove as well as rapper Drake.

I've decided to release this now because I've been swayed by some of the right thinking commenters that Kanye, and rap, is truly evil, and the world needs to know.

I am beginning to feel the illuminati mind control take hold again so I may go back to spouting propaganda for my illuminati handlers, known by their satanic names Yeezus and Jayhova.

Stay strong, and do not listen to satanic rap, especially 36 Mafia, Lil Ugly Mane or Esham, that is how the illuminati caught me slippin.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:23 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Carravagio was a great artist and killed somebody.

Certainly not something that crossed my mind while I was absorbed in the room full of Carravagio's at the Villa Borghese; but I could see his "punk" dismissive attitude in some of those paintings, for sure ... although directed through a level of draftsmanship and skill with oils that was decidedly anything but punk aesthetic. So, I guess my point is that I have no doubt that Carravagio was arrogant and "punk" in some way, but I further have no doubt about his mastery of an art form that has continued for hundreds of years since his death with only a short list of contenders in the canon of western oil painting, and that is sort of 75% despite his punkiness and only maybe 25% because of it. I don't know what to make of Kanye West or how he might be placed in the canon of western sung music. I will step out on a limb to predict he will be forgotten sooner than either Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong, or at least will fall out of critical favor before they do. I would love to live long enough to find out whether any of the three obtain the immortal status in music that Carravagio did in painting. But I also think it's counterproductive to focus too much on whether they were good men or bad; both types have created great and terrible art.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 7:34 PM on June 24, 2013


Noah23 is great for your evil rap needs, mixing hip hop with witch house. Maybe Kanye can tap into that vein on the next one. Gothic vibes would definitely suit him.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:42 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am beginning to feel the illuminati mind control take hold again so I may go back to spouting propaganda for my illuminati handlers, known by their satanic names Yeezus and Jayhova.

You know Nas is illuminatic too:

Begin like a violin
End like Leviathan


Way down below the ocean is where I want to be.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:43 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Begin like a violin
End like Leviathin


I've never listened to enough Nas, 'cos damn, that is a beautiful couplet. I can just hear Johnny Cash singing it, too.

CiS has a point above too here - Kanye's kind of arrogance is so very rock and roll - actually he's more rock and roll than anybody's been in a very long time. He's seriously got genius-rock-star levels of pretension and ambition going on... I think that's a lot of what I dig about him, he's actually trying to do something interesting w/ not only the music, but the money and persona and etc.

Everybody really should read both of the links that Ad hominem posted above. In the W profile- in between talking about Mies van der Rohe and "favorably comparing himself to Le Corbusier, the Beatles, Marlon Brando, Tiger Woods, Azzedine Alaïa, Kate Moss, and the Soup Nazi, among others" he straight-up calls himself a rock star, and he's exactly right. Who the fuck else is a rock star now?

Now, it's time to play 'name that misogynist, violent, morally scabrous rapper!' Bonus points for knowing when it came out, too. (mouseover the link for the answer)
You pet your lover in the bed
Come here, I'll break your lousy head
Our nation must be saved and freed
You've been accused of murder, how do you plead?
This is how I spend my days
I came to bury, not to praise
I'll drink my fill and sleep alone
I pay in blood, but not my own
that was last year, kids. Just in case you thought all the old hippies had mellowed. Maybe he's been listening to too much of the hippity-hop. Or the Harry Smith, whichever.
posted by hap_hazard at 8:10 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, not Nas!

Good think Biggie and Pac didn't live to see this.

Although Danny Brown admits to using Pac Blood to write his twisted lyrics about the virgin Mary doing lines after Pac appeared in his dreams. That is some Satan type shit.

You guys know Baudelaire had some issues with women too.

From Les Métamorphoses du vampire

When she had sucked out all the marrow from my bones
And I languidly turned toward her
To give back an amorous kiss, I saw no more
Than a wine-skin with gluey sides, all full of pus!
Frozen with terror, I closed both my eyes,
And when I opened them to the bright light,
At my side, instead of the robust manikin
Who seemed to have laid in a store of blood,
There quivered confusedly a heap of old bones,
Which of themselves gave forth the cry of a weather-cock
Or of a sign on the end of an iron rod
That the wind swings to and fro on a winter night.


Damn Charles, she gives you a blowjob and you gotta compare her to a vampire, devouring your precious humors?
posted by Ad hominem at 8:17 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]




that was last year, kids. Just in case you thought all the old hippies had mellowed. Maybe he's been listening to too much of the hippity-hop. Or the Harry Smith, whichever.


Bob Dylan at his most arrogant is easily as or more arrogant than Kanye West. He was an 'old hippie' for maybe two albums, until he turned on the press and started trying on new personas.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:31 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hov is already the Bob Dylan of Rap Music. Open Letter is going to be the second bonus track in Magna Carta Holy Grail. I'm not really looking forward to people rushing to denounce him for comparing himself to Bob Dylan. If there is one thing people don't like it is black people comparing themselves to white people, they think they should stick with Miles Davis and Prince, not Steve Jobs.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:43 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]



Bob Dylan at his most arrogant is easily as or more arrogant than Kanye West. He was an 'old hippie' for maybe two albums, until he turned on the press and started trying on new personas.


I'm enjoying these off-target comparisons: Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Carravaggio, and Miles Davis didn't make a habit of publicly dissing women in their art. KW makes it *cool* to have his fans lap up his tripe. Sure, everyone is a dick sometimes - and some people are dicks a lot of the time, but few people, and few musical styles, get away with as much hypocritical BS as *commercial* hip-hop. Kanye West personifies everything that's wrong with the genre.

If there is one thing people don't like it is black people comparing themselves to white people, they think they should stick with Miles Davis and Prince, not Steve Jobs.

Says you.
posted by Vibrissae at 9:58 PM on June 24, 2013


I'm enjoying these off-target comparisons: Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Carravaggio, and Miles Davis didn't make a habit of publicly dissing women in their art.

Dylan has at least a dozen songs attacking various women he dated.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:59 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


thinkpiece: And Lennon received TONS of flack for declaring himself "more popular than Jesus." That statement is still, even today, a touchstone for out-of-touch celebrity gone berserk.

I think you are misunderstanding the Lennon quote. John said that in an incredulous way, not bragging at all. He was actually uncomfortable with how beserk the world , with the media in attendance, thrusting microphones in his face, had gone over the Beatles.
I think you are misunderstanding the thinkpiece quote. He didn't say "John said that about himself." He said "John said something arrogant-sounding, that received TONS of flack, which breaks the claim that only nonwhites will catch shit for saying things that sound arrogant."
posted by IAmBroom at 10:04 PM on June 24, 2013


Dylan was kind of a dick.

He wrote a lot of bitter songs about Suze Rotolo, particularly Balad in Plain D.

He compared her to a innocent lamb, a fawn, an animal to be hunted and taken.

I once loved a girl, her skin it was bronze
With the innocence of a lamb, she was gentle like a fawn
I courted her proudly, but now she is gone
Gone as the season she's taken.


He hated her family, calling her sister a parasite.

For her parasite sister, I had no respect
Bound by her boredom, her pride to protect
Countless visions of the other she'd reflect
As a crutch for her scenes and her society.


After he cheated on Suze with Joan Baez and forced Suze into having an abortion he got into a fight with her sister.

"The tragic figure" her sister did shout
"Leave her alone, God damn you, get out"
And I in my armor, turning about
And nailing her in the ruins of her pettiness.

Beneath a bare light bulb the plaster did pound
Her sister and I in a screaming battleground
And she in between, the victim of sound
Soon shattered as a child to the shadows.


He eventually apologized for the song. But writing all these hateful songs is some kind of Gift of Fear type shit.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:22 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dylan has at least a dozen songs attacking various women he dated.

But Dylan is not into dissing women as a matter of course, like Kanye West; Dylan's young fans don't walk around mouthing lyrics that diss women; THAT's the difference. You sound like an apologist for Kanye's misogyny, just like a lot of other folks here. That's unfortunate.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:36 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: Dylan has at least a dozen songs attacking various women he dated.
Which makes him bitter about past relationships, not a misogynist. Nor is Tyler Swift a misandrist because she writes songs dissing her exes.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:49 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]



But Dylan is not into dissing women as a matter of course, like Kanye West; Dylan's young fans don't walk around mouthing lyrics that diss women; THAT's the difference. You sound like an apologist for Kanye's misogyny, just like a lot of other folks here. That's unfortunate.


A. I did mouth Dylan's bitter lyrics, and I still do, and honestly you're making me think that "it's a wonder that you still know how to breathe".

B. Do Kanye's fans do that? I'm more of a fan of Kanye's persona than his music; he seems like a proper, old school rock and roll star. But I love songs like Power and Black Skinhead, which seem more to be about over the top displays of power than hating women. And say what you want about Kim Kardashian, but Kanye seems to really care about her.

And even if he didn't, its none of my business.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:53 PM on June 24, 2013


Kanye's Sold Soul

Another interesting article on pitchfork

Here is an interesting bit:

There is one relatively undefiled soul sample on Yeezus, and it comes with closer "Bound 2". The sample is by the Ponderosa Twins Plus One, a Cleveland group made up of two groups of identical twins and a school friend of theirs named Ricky Spicer. "Bound" was part of a two-sided single put out by Sylvia Robinson on All Platinum Records, the imprint that would eventually be reborn-- after Fed investigations, bankruptcy, and a fateful visit to the Harlem World nightclub, where Lovebug Starski was performing-- as Sugar Hill Records, hip-hop's first hit label.

I was just marveling at how Send it Up, his "Club jam" leads into Bound 2, his LL Cool J player track.

I love the way he cops Em's flow from from Drug Ballad in Send it Up.


Anyway, these tracks on Yeezus are clearly about Alexis Phifer. He says on Hold My Liquor, "Five years we been over". I don't know the guy's CV but I think Alexis left him 5 years ago.

I'm no longer interested in Kanye anyway, this is my last comment on Kanye. I'm into Dylan now.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to listen to Blonde on Blonde but I got sidetracked. I forgot how dope IT could be. Check this shit out. Tech and Bolic go HAM on this shit Motherfucker, goonies never die!

Ok, lemme know the next Dylan thread so I can jump in about what a creepy motherfucker he is.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:25 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did mouth Dylan's bitter lyrics, and I still do

Dylan is not known as a misogynist; and, hagiography is an awful, nasty drug. It's really sad that so many people conveniently "overlook" Kanye's consistent dissing of women, among other outrage - and it's high time that more people say that, and not stop saying it until he changes his tune, literally. A lot of 16-24 year-old people listen to that crap, and unthinkingly put those words into action. They seep into culture. Kanye West is a song and dance hoe, period
posted by Vibrissae at 11:26 PM on June 24, 2013


Whoa whoa... Why do you have to use the language of mysogyny in your arguments. I feel justified in ignoring everything you've said.

I brought this up in a lupe fiasco thread. That lupe was referring to men as bitch. I was told it is definitely still sexist and misogynistic because it attempts to denigrate a man with a term traditionally applied to women. Implying that women are somehow less than men, as being one is an insult.

I think calling Kanye a ho is worse, since it is also offensive to sex workers.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kanye West is a song and dance hoe, period

In fact I'm pretty sure you aren't serious. Because you just damn near accused him of shucking and jiving. This is some kind of Paula Deen dinner party shit.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:10 AM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


If anyone was going to get outraged about something you think they'd get outraged about Kanye sampling Strange Fruit.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:38 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, I'm getting a little bit confused. Miles Davis was a straight-up violent hateful misogynist, John Lennon battered his first wife, Jerry Lee Lewis... well nuff said, I'm not going to list practically every great musician I can think of, it'd probably be easier to make a list of musicians who aren't d-bags of some sort.

BUT since none of them explicitly called women bitches in their lyrics*, they're all fine. Whereas because Kanye says a lot of bad things about women his music, he's basically an abomination, even though to my knowledge he doesn't stand accused of actually beating or abusing or killing anybody in, you know, real life.

That's um interesting I guess.

*well there is 'I'd rather see you dead, little girl / Than to be with another man' which I suppose you could call some casual misogyny but I'll give that a pass because it's a quote from an Elvis song, and that man was a SAINT, right?.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:12 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


. They seep into culture. Kanye West is a song and dance hoe, period

Yessah massuh! He done do that shuckin' and jivin' like dem other black folk do. But not me massuh! I's a good slave. Would it be alright if I watch the Floyd Patterson fight against Ali. I swears I'll root against Ali. That fool don't know his place. He's so cocky and arrogant. Black folk oughtta know better than that.

I mean it's almost a damn political statement.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:37 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think we knew it all along but Vibrasse just wishes Kanye would bust out the Sandman Sims soft shoe and sing a little Old Man River.

Vibrasse doesn't not like the hippidy hop.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:09 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's been fun guys. See you on the 4th for Magna Carta Holy Grail. And we got Wu tang's 20th anniversary coming up, Return to the 36 chambers.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 AM on June 25, 2013


Aw man, now that we've gone all the way through the rabbit hole, you're out? Got a pressing engagement in the 36th chamber, I imagine.

Gordon Liu is at the center of every illuminati conspiracy there ever was. Don't believe me? Count the rings.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:25 AM on June 25, 2013


damn - this shit show has taken an even shittier turn.

in synergy news - i just realized i have a new samsung phone and should find out if that whole free mchg thing is for real.
posted by nadawi at 8:09 AM on June 25, 2013


Kanye West is a song and dance hoe, period
posted by Vibrissae at 2:26 AM on June 25 [+] [!]


I... wow.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:21 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mac Miller - Watching Movies With the Sound Off the story of a small turtle with a big heart.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2013


ad hominem: I brought this up in a lupe fiasco thread. That lupe was referring to men as bitch. I was told it is definitely still sexist and misogynistic because it attempts to denigrate a man with a term traditionally applied to women. Implying that women are somehow less than men, as being one is an insult.

I think calling Kanye a ho is worse, since it is also offensive to sex workers.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:55 PM on June 24 [3 favorites +] [!]


Kanye West is a song and dance hoe, period

In fact I'm pretty sure you aren't serious. Because you just damn near accused him of shucking and jiving. This is some kind of Paula Deen dinner party shit.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:10 AM


Playing the race card now, are you? Nice try, but your interpretation is your problem, not mine. And, that you have used your subjective outrage and rhetorically-motivated readings and interpretation of what I wrote, in yet one more hagiographic attempt on this thread to defend Kanye West's overt misogyny, makes you to come off like a bit of a hypocrite, don't you think. Unless you think women are the bitches and hoes that Kanye says they are.

For you - by implication - to support the misogynist filth that Kanye dishes out, over and over again and somehow justify that in the name of "art", just because you can bob your head and dance to it, and somehow find whatever phoney "meaning" in it, the way Heben Nigatu did in her vanity piece (the subject of this thread), is an insult to every woman who has been called a ho and bitch in a celebratory way by Kanye West

In sum, your attempt to play the race card, appears as an attempt to silence criticism by someone who is fed up with jerks like Kanye West, and fed up with how, unabated, he continues to trash women.

Bottom line: you appear to support misogyny, and will not attack a very famous person whose very "so-called" art has misogyny woven through it, like tight knitting. Maybe I'm wrong about your support of misogyny, but I don't see you condemning Kanye's habitual promotion of same in his "art".

About sex workers: I support whatever a woman wants to do with her body. But sex workers too are demeaned by Kanye West, because by labeling women, in general, as "hoes and bitches", he is directly attributing qualities that are generally accepted as negative (i.e. being a whore, or being a "bitch") - and using that negative connotation to insult women. In other words, Kanye West reinforces the connotations attributed to sex workers by using those negative connotations to bring down women.

Calling Kanye West a ho is just desserts, and has nothing whatsoever with insulting sex workers - and was never intended to insult sex workers - i.e. your interpretation of my words, notwithstanding. Rather, it has everything to do with taking the negative connotations of sex workers that Kanye has used to make a pile of cash while he insults women, and put it right back in his misogynistic, narcissistic face. You might think it's an insult to to sex workers, but what if I happen to be a sex worker and don't see it that way? Do you think sex workers - as women - like being referred to with negative, insulting connotations? One thing a hagiographic fans like you can't stand is to see the techniques used by the object of his love, used to bring down the reputation of that object. Sorry about that, but it goes with the territory when one starts living hagiographically and vicariously through as asshole like Kanye West, as you appear to do.

btw, Kanye West can stop being an asshole, any time he wants. As long as he continues to trash women, he deserves the strongest negative criticism. Kanye, stop insulting women!
posted by Vibrissae at 10:14 AM on June 25, 2013


BOOOORINGGGGG!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:37 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


pointing out that you seemed to make a pretty awful racial attack with an extra dollop of slut shaming by proxy is not playing the race card. it's reacting to what you said.

if you object to using misogynistic insults, you object to them all the way - not just when they're directed at women. insulting someone else with the same term is not how reclamation works that's not an interpretation problem. it's like perez hilton calling will.i.am a faggot - just because you think the other person views it as a supreme insult doesn't make that a good reason to use it.

it's obvious you have a lot of problems with kanye - no one in this thread is unclear on that. you seem to be unclear on the fact that there is a way to like misogynistic art and still be a socially aware fan. hell, there are ways to make racist, misogynistic, homophobic art and not embody those qualities in your personality. unless you just don't much like art, i am guaranteeing that you are a fan of something problematic.

Bottom line: you appear to support misogyny

this is a straight up fighty and bullshit reading of the discussion.
posted by nadawi at 10:39 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Playing the race card now, are you? Nice try, but your interpretation is your problem, not mine.

My interpretation is that you handwaved away the misogyny of a number of mostly white artists, while continuing to grind this axe about Kanye, 'commercial hip-hop' and all his fans.

Maybe you should use more bold tags and it might be clearer to us, because you're being genuine and not trolling at all.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:19 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do I wish Kanye didn't use the word bitch? Sure.

I don't like the way many rappers talk about women. Some is just posturing, some like When I Was Water Whipping speak about experiences I would guess are completely foreign to all of us here. Does Gucci Mane's attitudes about women invalidate what he says about life in the "trap"

I wish Iceberg Slim wasn't a pimp, but he is sharing an experience and life lived by tens of thousands of people.

I'm not going to denounce artists, or declare everything they say as invalid, because they say something I don't like.

We as a society created these conditions. We can't just say shut the fuck up, we don't want to hear you,until you speak nicely.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Playing the race card now, are you?

I assure you as a person who is not white the rest of us were not given an awesome set of cards to use to win arguments and make life more awesome.

I repeat, there are no race cards. No women cards either.
posted by sweetkid at 11:34 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


We can debate this all day. Whether Kanye emits sexism into the culture or Kanye reflects sexism already present in society.

I maintain that we are all, Kanye included, products of a profoundly sexist and racist culture.

Kanye also has an extra heaping of shit being a black man in a culture that fears and reviles black men.

He is doing his job as an artist, he is holding up a mirror. We can ignore him or we can listen to him. Ignoring him doesn't solve anything.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey Vibrissae, I have a peace offering. MIA has a new video.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vibrissae: “Calling Kanye West a ho is just desserts, and has nothing whatsoever with insulting sex workers - and was never intended to insult sex workers - i.e. your interpretation of my words, notwithstanding.”

You know, this is the kind of crap argument people always make when trying to justify misogyny in rap songs – "oh, it's not meant to demean all women, that's not the intended meaning at all!" Whatever. It really doesn't matter what the intended meaning was. It is offensive to use the word "hoe" as a term of disapprobation, because it is a gendered insult. It doesn't matter if it's ironic. And you know that it's wrong – that's why you're criticizing Kanye in the first place, isn't it?

This is a lesson we usually learn very early, usually – "two wrongs doesn't make a right." I think that's a good lesson to remember. I appreciate that you think Kanye is a misogynist. As I've said many times here, I agree with you. But I really wish you wouldn't deploy misogynist terminology in trying to make that point, even if you're doing it ironically. On the internet, nobody hears the irony; and the damage is done all the same.
posted by koeselitz at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2013


MIA has a new video

Interesting-- based on a track called Marble Players Anthem. I only know this because I included it on a mix cd I made a couple of years ago, and most of my friends hated the track.
posted by empath at 2:02 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is offensive to use the word "hoe" as a term of disapprobation, because it is a gendered insult. It doesn't matter if it's ironic. And you know that it's wrong – that's why you're criticizing Kanye in the first place, isn't it?

Says you! And all the other wannabe "critical theorists" who set limits to language to please their hagiographic agendas ni this thread. Is language a science? Answer: "No". The bottom line here is that no matter how hard you try, you can't escape the fact that you are supporting a misogynist. That's the bottom line. You don't get it, and more importantly, you don't want to get it. You just want to win an argument. You just want to protect your misogynistic hero.

The language KGB is out in full force on mefi! Now, your tactic is to try to put your meanings to my words, as if your meanings are the last word? Sorry, no cigar. Sorry, we disagree about Kanye West; you don't happen to like what I'm saying about him - deal with it. You apparently think that an onslaught of hagiographic comebacks will defuse my criticism of the crap that Kanye puts out there; you're wrong.

You want irony: you - by implication, support the bullshit irony and crap deconstruction of necessary "self-love", personified as Kanye West's misogyny and generally acting like a dick (oooh, watch that insult to male genetalia, vibrissae!) made by a fawning wannabe critical theorist who rationalizes Kanye Wests insults to women in general, because it's what he needs to do? There is a phrase for that, my good mefite: "hypocritical analysis." There is another phrase for that: cowardice and a need to be liked, masquerading as objective criticism.

Of course, you will disagree; I'm not going to change your mind, and you're not going to change mine. Enjoy Kanye West; I will continue to revile him until he starts acting like someone that promotes the value of women, rather than the opposite. Hope you find a way to express your distaste to Kanye West, for the harm he has done by encouraging young people to act just like him (i.e. young people model their heros), rather than expressing phoney outrage via language policing, because your hero is dissed by someone who knows better.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2013


btw, Kanye West can stop being an asshole, any time he wants. As long as he continues to trash women, he deserves the strongest negative criticism. Kanye, stop insulting women!

Hey, I don't recall seeing you in the last few Kubrick threads talking about how much of an asshole Kubrick was to his leading ladies. And you're not in the Man of Steel thread, talking about how the director of that movie made the mysogonistic and creepy movie Sucker Punch. And you're not in my Iron Sheik thread ranting about what a homophobic monster he is. You didn't derail my last two Nick Cave threads either, despite the fact that he's written dozens of songs about raping and killing women.

I wonder what all those people have in common that Kanye doesn't?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:10 PM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hey, I don't recall seeing you in the last few Kubrick threads talking about how much of an asshole Kubrick was to his leading ladies. And you're not in the Man of Steel thread, talking about how the director of that movie made the mysogonistic and creepy movie Sucker Punch. And you're not in my Iron Sheik thread ranting about what a homophobic monster he is. You didn't derail my last two Nick Cave threads either, despite the fact that he's written dozens of songs about raping and killing women.

I wonder what all those people have in common that Kanye doesn't.


Wow, another attempt at playing the race card. Sorry, no cigar. again, hagiography is an awful drug. The people you mention don't actively promote and flaunt misogyny as a general part of their persona and art. They don't even come close to Kanye West. The general harm that Kanye West does to women is in direct proportion to the influence that he has in the world of entertainment and other spheres. That's the difference. There is a difference between incidental misogyny - which is admittedly wrong - and general knitting misogyny into the fabric of all of one's art and persona, like Kanye West does.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2013


The general harm that Kanye West does to women is in direct proportion to the influence that he has in the world of entertainment and other spheres. That's the difference. There is a difference between incidental misogyny - which is admittedly wrong - and general knitting misogyny into the fabric of all of one's art and persona, like Kanye West does.

I dunno... it doesn't seem to be a huge part of his persona. I've listened to his hit songs and most of Yeezus, and... he likes having sex with multiple women, and he doesn't like gold diggers. I'm probably missing a bunch, but it's far from the background misogyny that I'm used to as a gamer, a part of videogame culture, and a rock and roll fan.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:33 PM on June 25, 2013


Did you just draw "hagiography" in internet argument bingo or something?
posted by empath at 5:45 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a Film Critic Hulk article on Superman vs Batman and he points out that Superman is very popular among urban audiences because, when your life is constantly in danger, you want to look up to somebody who's invincible. And Kanye's persona plays into that strongly.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:57 PM on June 25, 2013


Fuck it you wore me down, I tried to tell you I wasn't into Kanye anymore but you knew I was just trying to fake you out. This time I swear it's true. I'm done with Kanye forever.

Can we just stop being harangued. None of us support mysogyny. I told you my reasons at length why I still feel Kanye is a valuable voice in modern America despite the fact that he says "one good girl is worth a thousand bitches" in his song.

I'm deleting all my Kanye right now. Imma go listen to Kendrick Lamar or someone with an uplifting message of triumph over adversity or something.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:12 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vibrissae: “The bottom line here is that no matter how hard you try, you can't escape the fact that you are supporting a misogynist. That's the bottom line. You don't get it, and more importantly, you don't want to get it. You just want to win an argument. You just want to protect your misogynistic hero.”

It is really hard not to get incredibly angry at this, Vibrissae. It'd be cool if you could look back at my very first comment in this thread; in case you've forgotten, it was a strident argument that we can and must call out hip hop when it's misogynist, and that it is not racist to do so but rather a sign of respect.

Kanye West is the furthest thing from my hero. Honestly, I've been trying very hard to have this conversation with you, but it's like you're ignoring everything I've said. I've said over and over again that Kanye is incredibly misogynistic – please note that I haven't even just said his lyrics are misogynistic, I've said that he is misogynistic. I have said this early, often, and consistently in this thread. Please go back and read my comments if you don't believe me.

So the argument we're having here isn't about whether we believe misogyny is wrong, or whether we believe Kanye is misogynistic. It's about the incredibly insulting tone you're taking, not only about Kanye West but about other people here in this thread. And toward me, to be clear.

“The language KGB is out in full force on mefi! Now, your tactic is to try to put your meanings to my words, as if your meanings are the last word? Sorry, no cigar.”

Is this another attempt at irony? This conversation is about how the language Kanye West uses is misogynistic. I thought we both agreed that it was – didn't we? So how can you pull this "language isn't so important, it only means what I want it to mean" stuff? Do we care what Kanye means when he throws out all these vile references to bitches and such? It's not that intention doesn't matter; it's that, even if you say certain things ironically (ironic-racist hipsters found this out quickly) those things end up being destructive.

“Sorry, we disagree about Kanye West; you don't happen to like what I'm saying about him - deal with it.”

For the last time, we do not disagree about Kanye West. We disagree about whether it's important to treat other human beings with decency and respect. I take the affirmative, saying that it is important to do so. You have consistently taken the negative position.

Honestly, I've gotten a strong feeling that we could (and maybe someday will) get along very well; we're both fellow musicians, and that means a lot to me. Moreover, I really agree with a lot of the things you've said, and I don't think we disagree on the substantive technical issues here.

But – please take this as the observation of a friend, even if you'd rather not see me as one – you are acting like a colossal asshole here, Vibrissae. Believe me, I should know; I'm an expert on the subject, given how many times I've done the same thing.
posted by koeselitz at 6:13 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vibrissae: The Kanye West of this thread.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:30 PM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Do we care what Kanye means when he throws out all these vile references to bitches and such? It's not that intention doesn't matter; it's that, even if you say certain things ironically (ironic-racist hipsters found this out quickly) those things end up being d

I just want to point one thing out about the song Bound 2 on Yeezus. The song where he says "one good girl is worth 1000 bitches". It's actually a parody.

There are two things you need to know

A lot of rappers have songs where they talk to a girl and sweet talk them. LL must have like 10 of them.

In the show Martin, there is a character named Jerome. He is an internationally known "player" except he is a total buffoon.

Bound 2 is a song by Jerome.

Listen to Kanye's deliver his first few punch lines "ordered champagne but still looked thirstay" "rocked forever 21 but just turned thirtay". He is doing a Martin Lawrence impersonation.

Listen to him sweet talking the girl in the song "Ayo, I guess we made it to thanksgiving" "A A maybe we could make it to Christmas" he is doing Jerome.

Then to top it all off, he ends the song with "Jeromes in the house, watch your mouth", which was Jerome's catchphrase.

So yeah, maybe he shouldn't use the word bitch. But this is a parody of a player song.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:16 PM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love hal_c_on's comment. It's original; no critical theory BS; just honest and to the point. He's wrong, of course, but man, hal_c_on has a great jab!

koeselitz: But – please take this as the observation of a friend, even if you'd rather not see me as one – you are acting like a colossal asshole here, Vibrissae. Believe me, I should know; I'm an expert on the subject, given how many times I've done the same thing.

My good mefite friend (I learned that phraseology watching sessions of the Congress): perception is (almost) 100% of reality, so from your perspective, this is true for you. We differ about Kanye, and believe it or not, I personally know a lot of people in my circle - many are musicians - who would consider me a lightweight in my opinion about Kanye West. You should hear what they have to say! Perspective is a powerful thing.

And in keeping with hal_c_on's jab, I'll close by going full circle to re-quote Anil Dash - i.e. "My wish for Kanye & Kim's daughter is that she shares their ambition & talent, and is never treated the way Kanye treats women in his songs."
posted by Vibrissae at 9:14 PM on June 25, 2013


Your friends sound like a blast. Vibrissae, you better hope I never see you in Bob Dylan thread saying good things about him.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:25 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not like I'm going to say anything. I'm just going to cry a single tear.You'll know, And you'll feel really bad.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:28 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vibrissae: “We differ about Kanye”

NO WE DON'T. WE DO NOT DIFFER ABOUT KANYE. WE AGREE 100% ABOUT KANYE. I HAVE SAID THIS MANY, MANY, MANY TIMES.

Seriously, how many times does a person have to type a thing for you to actually read it? This is what I meant: that you are responding without reading what people are saying.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 PM on June 25, 2013


I guess what's most maddening, Vibrissae, is that you just sort of invented this alternate reality where I'm a staunch Kanye West defender and fan, and overlaid that alternate reality on this entire conversation. And that irks me, most of all because I don't particularly like Kanye West as a person or a musician. Can you imagine how annoying it would be if I kept talking about you as though you were a staunch defender of Kanye West? You would probably find that annoying. That is why I am annoyed. Please stop it. I know all I can do is request, and what you choose to do with your words is totally your own, but it would be totally awesome if you wouldn't paint me this way and then tell me I've got a "misogynist hero" and accusing me of "defending a misogynist" and all that.

I mean, it seems like you came into this thread really hoping to argue with people who love Kanye West and tell them they're wrong. And you got to do that. That is great. Fine. But you're also talking to me, and you're totally disregarding what I say in order to paint me in the worst possible light.

And I'm just making the request that maybe you have the consideration to not do that. That's all.

I do not generally like Kanye West. I DO NOT LIKE KANYE WEST. I find some of his music interesting in certain contexts, mostly because I like the people he's worked with, but I do not like Kanye West. I do not listen to him in my spare time. I do not buy Kanye West t-shirts. I do not pay money for Kanye West albums. I do not go to Kanye West concerts. I do not slobber all over a homespun Kanye West shrine in my closet every night. I am not a devotee, I am not a fan, I am not a partisan of Kanye West.

I thought saying that once or twice might work, but maybe that whole paragraph there will help.
posted by koeselitz at 10:28 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Koeselitz, for clarity, by differ I mean that we differ in the way that Kanye west should be treated and called out. My calling out iswas more visceral than yours. You said so yourself. My position is more absolutist than your position which is more relativist. It's a matter of personal style and degree. That's where we differ, which is OK.

btw, I didn't come here to argue; I came here to make a visceral point, triggered by Heben Nigatu's shallow essay, and the early fawning on this thread over her lame rationalization of West's outrageous behavior. Anyway, "everyone is alright, really". No worries.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:45 PM on June 25, 2013


This thread is like that time Michelle Obama was trying to give a speech about kids being killed in the streets of Chicago and people thought it would be cool to shout her down.

I've been utterly baffled how "song and dance hoe" and accusing people of pulling the "race card" can fly on metafilter.

Remember when that person said "we need more people like Neil Degrasse Tyson and less rappers" and got called "racist as fuck".

Fuck it, Vibrassae shut this thread down through attrition.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:13 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


@Ad hominum: I'll see you on the next Dylan thread. :)
posted by Vibrissae at 3:04 AM on June 26, 2013


So, now that Vibrissae has won his/her private strawman derail argument, can we resume the topic of the thread?

The first time I heard new tracks off Yeezus was when he performed on SNL. One of the things that struck me about the performance and imagery was how reminiscent of Trent Reznor doing it live it was: the intensity, the wardrobe, the flickering projected imagery, even the way he gripped the mic: completely awesome.

Given that Ye has proven his ability/desire to work with electronic acts, and Reznor's work with rappers in the past, I can only cross my fingers and hope that this will lead to something wonderful.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]




The first time I heard new tracks off Yeezus was when he performed on SNL. One of the things that struck me about the performance and imagery was how reminiscent of Trent Reznor doing it live it was: the intensity, the wardrobe, the flickering projected imagery, even the way he gripped the mic: completely awesome.

Given that Ye has proven his ability/desire to work with electronic acts, and Reznor's work with rappers in the past, I can only cross my fingers and hope that this will lead to something wonderful.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:53 AM on June 26


I actually didn't see the SNL performance, but some of the tracks definitely do sound like vintage NIN.

As for all the other stuff: what's with the apparent lack of moderation in this thread? I've seen far less annoying behavior merit thread deletions and time outs and there've been plenty of other threads where the essential message is: don't like the subject being discussed? GTFO. Plenty of other threads upon which you need not poop.

End of the day, here's what I learned: metafilter is now no different than any other place on the internet that allows comments, except all those other places spare us the pretense of intellectual honesty or civility.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:57 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually didn't see the SNL performance,

It may have been linked upthread, but just in case, here you go:

Black Skinhead
New Slaves
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:16 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


maybe things weren't flagged? maybe there was a lot of other stuff going on in other threads at the time. moderation by humans isn't perfect, but it's still my favorite system going.
posted by nadawi at 11:31 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


yea you're supposed to flag things if you want them removed. Personally I disregard things said by people who think 'race card' is a valid term to use in intelligent discussion.
posted by sweetkid at 11:51 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not going to snitch.

ITT: Uplifting Songs of triumph over adversity! Good Morning On this day we become legendary.

I know I promised to listen to Kendrick Lamar but I got to Money Trees and got depressed and had to listen to Good Life cuz I gots to shine and found an early version of hashtag rap "Haters give me them salty looks; lawrys"

There are actually a few different versions of Black Skinhead at this point. The SNL version, The CDQ leak, the iTunes version and the version off the The Wolf of Wall Street trailer.

KTT has a comprehensive list of differences somewhere.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:09 PM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you are going to listen to Money Trees you gotta listen to The Art of Peer Pressure. It's about the burglary he talks about in the first verse of Money Trees. This guy is a poet.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:29 PM on June 26, 2013


Hov wrote a song about yachting like I predicted in the last Ye thread. But he put a spin on it I guess I should have expected, I take back all the bad stuff I said about Jay.

He also put Frank Ocean on it.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:45 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surely the yacht goes on the ocean, rather than the other way round.
posted by Grangousier at 2:09 PM on June 26, 2013


Read the lyrics. He says "the only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace, I don't even like Washingtons in my pocket"

Christopher Wallace is Biggie.

We expected black bower Kanye and got black power Jay-Z.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:05 PM on June 26, 2013


Hov wrote a song about yachting

Christ, did Pitchfork really blank out all the naughty words in the lyrics?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:59 AM on June 28, 2013


Every Yeezus sample

Christ, did Pitchfork really blank out all the naughty words in the lyrics?


I think they were released that way. This is a samsung ad after all :)
posted by Ad hominem at 5:00 PM on June 30, 2013


What if Kanye was White (or, The Death of the Rock Star)

this link articulates what I've been trying to say about Kanye

If Kanye were white, his music would already be considered rock music.

With pale skin, Yeezy’s perception by the mainstream media would instantly transform from egotistical jerk to bad ass overnight. His Taylor Swift stagebomb would no longer be a mean black drunk picking on a cute little girl. It would be the desperate plea of a frustrated artist speaking up against the industry on behalf of “real” music fans. Saying that George Bush doesn’t care about black people becomes a heroic fight against oppression on behalf of a marginalized class.

posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:23 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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