by AARON MEGAR
Kanye West, in all of his wisdom, wrote a very insightful op-ed for Paper Magazine’s April issue titled “Kanye West: In His Own Words.” West hits on a wide range of topics, varying from fashion to innovation to the Illuminati, and for one of the first times in a long time, he isn’t angry. What is unfortunate, however, is that while his opinions are both intriguing and beneficial to read, people’s perceptions of Kanye West – the ridiculous husband of Kim Kardashian, the loud-mouthed and rejected fashion designer, the Taylor Swift-interrupting egomaniac, and most importantly, the mastermind behind “ignant” bangers like “Mercy,” “All Day,” and “Don’t Like” – destroy his credibility as anything other than a musician and allow for these valuable opinions to be either overlooked or assumed to be ignorant banter.
Let me preface this by saying that I am huge Kanye fan, and he is undoubtedly my favorite rapper of all-time. But until not longer than a year ago, that man was arrogant, he was rude, and he was infuriated with his inability to succeed in the fashion industry. For me, as a fan, reading this essay brought a final end to that era.
In the past year, Kanye has put out three phenomenal new songs, found critical success with his Yeezy Boosts shoe release during New York Fashion Week, and he has changed his character. Kanye seems happier than he was when he dropped Yeezus. He’s no longer in the dark place that we found him at on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and 808s & Heartbreak. He’s a father and a husband, he’s a rising fashion designer and to put it bluntly, he’s no longer a dick. But it is the first Zane Lowe interview, the Taylor Swift fiasco, and the “you ain’t got the answers, Sway!” moment that prohibit Kanye from reaching his potential as an influential celebrity beyond the realm of music.
Sidenote: This is not to say that Kanye West isn’t a genius. I believe he’s actually the single most intelligent musician of my generation in the sense that he is innovative, diverse, multi-layered, and lyrically artistic in a way that only a handful of other rappers could compare to. But as a celebrity and an image, he was, for the longest time, an absolute idiot.
In the op-ed piece, Kanye discusses the “interbreeding of ideas.” He insists that innovation is the key to evolution and that the passing of information is the key to innovation.
“I think it’s so important for me as an artist, to give Drake as much information as I can, A$AP, Kendrick, Taylor Swift, any of these younger artists as much information as I can to make better music in the future. I care about innovating. I don’t care about capitalizing off of something that we’ve seen or heard a thousand times.”
He ends the piece with what he calls his own version of when Steve Jobs took LSD, a moment under the influence of nitrous gas where Kanye had a powerful realization. West believes that the purpose of life should be to give happiness to the world. He’s said this before in past interviews, but in the op-ed he reveals an intimate moment with himself where he fully adopted this mindset. And that is a mindset that I believe all people should adopt. That is what art is, and Kanye is one of the biggest artists of the present day. This message is most applicable and valuable for artists. If other musicians were to to think in this way, they would come out with better and more refreshing music. And how do I know this? Because Kanye West lives by this mindset, and he puts out the best and most refreshing music in the industry.
But of course, due to his reputation, these thoughts are going to be ignored. Kanye’s empowering thoughts are worthless to most people because they’re coming from Kanye. And, looking back on his past, this perception is very sound and reasonable. The man has changed, however, and I’m excited to see what this new attitude – happy, not excessively arrogant, etc. – will do for his music.