In an entertainment world where sharing your personal life and your art form go hand in hand, there is an elite few that maintain a certain mystique but manage to keep us captivated. Kanye West remains one of the most prominent figures in hip hop all without delving into this social media obsessed world, but its evident that he’s made a drastic change artistically since he first debuted in 2004 with “The College Dropout”; the album that seemingly changed the rap game, with rhymes that catered to fashion, the everyday struggle as only rappers could document, and unmasked a different face of honesty. We embraced a rapper that was a complete 180 from the biggest rapper at the time, 50 Cent. No gun talk, bulletproof vests, or overload of tattoos, instead he opted to tell us his frustrations working at The Gap, setting up workout plans for the ladies, and risking radio play cause he decided to rap about Jesus; a territory rappers don’t often visit. But not only did he bring new topics to the forefront, he also ushered in a new breed of artist considered backpack rappers, and broke new ground with some of the most soulful production we’ve heard throughout the years, but looking at some of his recent work, what changed?
Kanye is still arguably one of the most creative artists we’ve seen, but its evident his passion isn’t as strong as it once was. Sure you’ll say how greatly executed MBDTF was, but lets go back to those more than generous “Good Friday” tracks. You know, those songs ‘Ye dropped every week and gave us yet another reason to look forward to the end of that five day stretch. Well, it turns out it served as a gift and a curse, seeing as how a big chunk of those ended up landing on his album. Now obviously what has changed since he first impacted the scene in 2004 is how easy it is to access music, but he exemplified how he could overcome this when “Watch The Throne” was released; his joint album with Jay-Z. The project was so secretive that we didn’t hear anything until it was officially unleashed and its midnight release served as christmas day online, setting twitter ablaze.
And you can’t talk change without mentioning his G.O.O.D Music label. ￼
Founded in 2004, Yeezy’s roster was destined to put conscious rap on a mainstream platform and was off to a successful start with John Legend and Common both having albums that were praised as instant classics and seven grammys between them, which heavily influenced the nickname and song, Grammy Family. We went on to later see the additions of SaRa, Consequence, GLC, Really Doe, singer Tony Williams, and the head scratcher Fonzworth Bentley, who had bars by the way. But you’ll notice today that all of those members are absent with the exception of Common and John Legend still standing. The once more than eclectic crew is now darker and noticeably grittier, and seems to be aiming for chart success rather than breaking new ground as it was first intended.
My beef with Kanye West is more so in disappointment. A man that was seemingly a perfectionist seems to have dumbed down his art and even worse, just doesn’t go as hard as he used to. But should he still have the hunger that he started out with? Absolutely. Give your all, or give in. Speaking to friends recently, i hadn’t noticed my disdain for West, but it’s apparent that I want more. His cringe worthy performance at the Hurricane Sandy benefit concert left us all scratching our heads in disbelief, his new and refined crew finally make their splash on the charts to much disappointment with Cruel Summer which although featured West on 8 tracks, his effort or presence for that matter wasn’t felt. Not to mention, we were cheated once again as an audience with 5 of the 12 songs that made the cut already being on radio. His recent rants at concerts are typical Kanye riffs but how much more can be tolerated? I miss the soul samples on tracks i have to admit, and it seems he is aware he’s out of touch. On a recent call in to Hot 97 to discuss his placement on MTV’s annual Hottest In The Game list, Yeezy made it clear saying:
“They don’t like Givenchy Kanye. They don’t like Kanye in a kilt. They don’t like Kanye in a relationship.”
It’s not that we don’t embrace these things about him because we’ve seen him in a relationship before and even experienced his heartache with 808’s and Heartbreak, but his lyrics lack depth. Let him tell it and “Lucky I ain’t have Jay drop him from the team” is the hardest bar we’ve heard in the past 12 months. Bars aside, we rarely get contributions from him production wise because he now has a production team. The man that gave us the perfectly polished Late Registration, the risky Graduation single “Stronger,” and the bravely emotional 808’s is more into the fashion world and Keeping up with his Kardashian than giving us something new and refreshing.
Continue telling us about your greatness Kanye, but we want to witness it again. We want you to pair random rappers we would never think of putting on your production and make it work. We want you to actually attend award shows, accept your award and tell the crowd you deserve it, (but prove it). What we DON’t want is you calling a radio station to profess how you bought Sway his first TV, (which was completely off subject) and then hang up. We also don’t want lackluster performances, or you throwing the mic down when you’re finish as if you’re suddenly too good to take the stage for the people that paid to see you. These small changes can and will ensure your greatness. The choice is yours.