They say you don't know what you've got till it's gone, and we think some people are underappreciating Kanye West.
That's right -- it's not a popular opinion, but we actually believe Yeezus has done more for hip-hop than any other living artist, and possibly even any rapper of all time.
People get upset when he says things like, "We the real rock stars, and I'm the biggest of all of them." But those folks are just misguided haters. He's not saying, "I'm a god," he's saying, "We're all gods." It's like Kanye told Zane Lowe in his epic four-part BBC interview: "If you're a Kanye West fan ... you're a fan of yourself."
Here are six reasons to love Kanye. And yourself.
He Dares to Be Different
When Kanye West first hit the spotlight with College Dropout in 2003, rap was not in a thoughtful place. Thuggish types like 50 Cent ruled the Billboard charts, followed closely by mindless crunk anthems from Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz. No one wanted to touch a guy spittin' about culture, religion, art, or emotions, and it didn't help that he dressed like some suburban kid. Still, he fought long and hard for his chance to rock rhymes, and when Jay Z and the Roc picked him up, they ended up birthing a superstar. As he says on "I Am a God": "Pink-ass polos with a fuckin' backpack/But everybody knows you brought real rap back."
His Grade-A Word Play
We will admit that sometimes Kanye's lyrics can be straightforward and repetitive, but he's also a genius of wordplay, rhythm, and LOLs. Lest we forget, check these bars:
"Kinda a Big Deal": "Spittin' fire on the PJs in my PJs/Fire marshall said I took it to the Max like TJ/Y'all ain't peep how I said Marshalls, replay/I guess I'm like the Black Marshall meets Jay."
"Last Call": "I ain't play the hand I was dealt, I changed my cards/I prayed to the skies and I changed my stars/I went to the malls and I balled too hard/'Oh my god, is that a black card?'/I turned around and replied, 'Why yes/But I prefer the term African American Express'/Brains, power, and muscle, like Dame, Puffy, and Russell/Your boy back on his hustle, you know what I've been up to/Killin' y'all niggas on that lyrical shit/ Mayonnaise colored Benz, I push Miracle Whips."
"Gorgeous": "Penitentiary chances, the devil dances/And eventually answers to the call of Autumn/All of them fallin' for the love of ballin'/Got caught with 30 rocks, the cop look like Alec Baldwin/The same people who tried to blackball me forgot about two things, my black balls."
See also: Ten Acts That Could Save Hip-Hop
His Music Videos Are Amazing
When was the last time you saw a Kanye West music video and thought, Boooring? His 2004 debut video was the attention-grabbing "Through the Wire," a pictorial collage way ahead of its time. The "Mercy" vid from 2012 was clean, minimal, and dark as hell, definitely one of the dopest rap videos ever. And yes, his new "Bound 2" is superweird, but you have to admit, there's never been such a full-on insinuation of fucking in a music vid. Still breaking down those boundaries and delivering the LOLs, ten years later.
See also: Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty Rapper
He's a Self-Made Man
Part of Kanye's charm (and we'd venture to say the reason for his brash delivery) is that he's had to fight so hard for everything he's ever gotten. No one wanted to sign him, and Jay only signed him to shut his ass up. 'Ye thought he could be a great rapper, and despite all the doubters, he was right. Now, as he pushes himself toward bigger and better things outside the music industry, he finds himself once again starting at the bottom. No one wants to give him a chance to create a couture clothing line, but in five years, we're pretty sure that everyone will be wearing Yeezus-brand designer slippers.
See also: Hip-Hop: Five Most Annoying Buzzwords
He Turned Hip-Hop Into Art
Alright, hip-hop has always been an art in that it's a form of personal and greater cultural expression, but Kanye has taken hip-hop to heretofore unimagined heights. Just listen to My Beautiful Dark, Twisted Fantasy: hip-hop has never sounded so orchestral, so emotional, so gritty, so lush. And now there's Yeezus, a fucking assault of the senses, a beautifully crafted tornado of noise, ego, and sex.
He's One of the Single Greatest Performers of All Time
Forget just hip-hop, Kanye West is among the greatest live acts that we have ever seen in our entire lives. This motherfucker runs across the stage at full speed, screaming his lungs out, singing off-key, playing MPCs, blowing up giant LED screens, ranting and raving about the state of the arts and America, and droppin' hit after hit after hit. A lot of people want to act like he isn't really doing anything that great, but go see him in person and tell us that energy didn't get you pumped enough to take on the whole world.
Sure, maybe he refuses to go on stage if everything isn't perfect, but that's because this guy has a vision. He won't settle for anything less than perfection, and he's doing that for your sake too.
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Kanye West's Yeezus Tour. With Kendrick Lamar. Friday, November 29. American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $39.50 to $150 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. Call 786-777-1000 or visit aaarena.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.