Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Kanye’s take on slavery is idiotic, his music is genius, separate the two.
Kanye West is no longer living in Chicago. He has been famous for over 17 years and Chicago is a distant memory. He cannot relate to the middle class on social issues. West has either forgotten or does not remember how bad it can be especially for a person of color. I say this to say, do not expect Kanye to be able to relate to you on a socially-conscious level. The Chi-town native is uninformed on social issues, and when he speaks on them Kanye goes out of his way to show us how out of touch and misinformed he really is. This is further explained in Ye Vs The People.
West the producer/artist is a genius. He arguably is the greatest Hip Hop producer of all time. He proves this on his latest album Ye.
I will digress for a moment and tell you about a time my friend and I were watching The Basement on BET. LL Cool J was a guest and he was about to go in the booth to freestyle. We could not wait to laugh LL out at his attempt to freestyle. This was early 2000s, we did not grow up in the times when LL Cool J was the biggest name in rap music and was considered one of Hip Hop’s first goats (greatest of all time), in fact he came up with the term.
We knew “Headsprung” and “Luv U Better” LL. He was more of a lady’s man type rapper then, similar to Drake. My friend and I are ready to erupt in laughter; LL sat down looked into the camera and gave one of the best freestyles we have ever heard. Do you know how hard he had to come for us to not bust out laughing at any hiccup or wack line? He had to give us one of the best freestyles we ever heard. He quickly reminded us of "Battle LL" and why he is considered one of the greatest of all time.
Fast forward to Kanye’s new album Ye. Social media had “cancelled” Kanye West. His album was not being promoted on most sites and artists were shying away from comment for fear of backlash. Then it happened. The people spoke, Kanye was #1 in over 40 countries because he did an LL. He hit a crossover and jumper on Bryon Russell to win his sixth championship, he delivered a remarkable album.
No matter how out of touch he is socially, he is a genius musician and you should separate the two. Look to Van Jones, Bakari Sellers, Angela Rye, John Legend, Jon Stewart, etc. for your social conscious takes, but for great, honest, and soulful music look no further than Mr. West.
The 21-time Grammy Award Winner has been referred to by others and himself as genius but no one explains why, it is just accepted. I will further explain while reviewing the album as well.
West went into detail on his album title in an interview with Big Boy. “I believe ‘ye’ is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and, in the Bible, it means ‘you,’ so it’s [saying] 'I’m you, I’m us,' it’s us,” he says. "It went from being Kanye, which means the only one, to just Ye – just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything, that I’m just more of a reflection of who we are, just as beings.”
The title seamlessly sums up the album. Ye is relating to so many on this album. It starts off with “I Thought About Killing You,” a song about contemplating suicide. He responds by doing drugs to take him to a place where his problems do not exist.
He continues on “Yikes” discussing his drug use that caused paranoia, depression and fear of dying of drug/medication overdose like Prince and MJ. At the end of the record, West reveals he has bipolar disorder, also displayed on the album cover. In his interview with Charlemagne, he revealed he was on medication for a mental health issue but did not disclose it at the time.
“AIN’T NO DISABILITY I’M A SUPERHERO”-K.W.
Mental health is at the forefront of our culture. People can be very dismissive and have a lack of understanding to those who suffer from mental issues. They often hurl insults like “Oh they’re just crazy” or “He/she must be off his meds,” etc. Anything spoken outside of the “norm” is considered crazy and those impacted feel ostracized from the world.
He just gave everyone with a mental disorder a voice to use this as a super power and not a crutch. The mentally "challenged" have the unique ability to see the world from a different place than us “normal” folks that have been trained to act, think, and function a certain way to appear “normal.”
The next relatable topic is marriage. Even if you cannot relate to marriage you can relate to the ups and downs of being in a relationship. “Wouldn’t Leave” is the most relatable record on the album. We have all been there where our partner in crime has done something to make us consider leaving the relationship. The love for the person and relationship would not let you leave. In a country with a 50% success rate of marriage, it is refreshing to see Kanye talk about the ups and downs of marriage but having a wife to stick by him through it all. An act money cannot buy.
“Father, forgive me, I'm scared of the karma
'Cause now I see women as somethin' to nurture
Not somethin' to conquer”
“Violent Crimes” talks about a man raising his daughter, and how that completely changed his prospective on women. Understanding the delicate beautiful flower women can be and how men can ruin that by trying to get their numbers up and treating her as an object and not a being. West fears the day his daughter grows up and prays she does not date the man he was in his youth.
The production is at an all-time high. Kanye provided a mix of all the things we loved from the old Kanye. The soulful and heartfelt beats, the club hit, “All Mine” with lines that only Kanye can say “I love your titties because they prove I can focus on two things at once.” The rock/alternative vibes on Ghost Town seamlessly set up the KIDS SEE GHOSTS album.
Kanye is a genius because through all the hate and more of hurt had for Kanye he knows that music is the equalizer. Ye tapped into those feelings supporters had when they fell in love with his music. In his own words Kanye West is “years ahead but way behind.”