Kanye West's Yeezus Tour at American Airlines Arena November 29
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 five reasons to love Kanye. And yourself.
He dares to be different. When Kanye West 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 wordplay is grade-A. 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 from "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."
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 weird as hell, but you have to admit there's never been such a full-on insinuation of screwing in a music video. Still breaking down those boundaries and delivering the LOLs, ten years later.
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 signed him only 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, everyone will be wearing Yeezus-brand designer slippers.
He's one of the single greatest performers of all time. Forget hip-hop — Kanye West is one of the greatest live acts we have ever seen. This mofo runs across the stage at full speed while 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 onstage 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.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.