Since his appearance on the music scene in 2004, I have had an on-again/off-again relationship with Kanye West. My first impression was that he was arrogant and insecure. I often found myself asking rhetorically, ‘who does this guy think he is?’ I would express my disdain for him to anyone who would listen. Me and Kanye: Off
However, after being involuntarily and continuously exposed to his music, I fell in love with his first single, “Through the Wire,” an uplifting track about his miraculous recovery from near fatal injuries suffered in a car accident, and later purchased his album, The College Dropout. In interviews, he appeared charming, intelligent and friendly (he smiled more then), and eventually dispelled my prior beliefs about him. With his soul seemingly in tow, Kanye continued to woo me with the release of yet another single off his debut album, “Jesus Walks,” a religious club banger that led to the fulfillment of his dream of hearing young people declare in nightclubs across the nation that ‘Jesus walks with them.’ Me and Kanye: On.
Initially, what I appreciated most about Kanye was that he rapped about more than just fancy cars, loose women and money. He actually had something meaningful to say, and he wasn’t afraid to say it, even if it might ruffle a few feathers. His most controversial and highly publicized statement that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” in reference to Bush’s efforts, or lack thereof, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, won me over entirely. Although his comment was brash and outlandish, it is truly what he felt (and what others felt, but wouldn’t dare say out loud). This was refreshing, considering the plethora of artists who stand for nothing and simply say whatever is necessary to ensure that their albums go platinum. Me and Kanye: On
However, to date, Kanye West and I have fallen out yet again. He just hasn’t been the same since the passing of his mother, Donda West, in 2007, and I think it’s because ’somewhere far along the road, he lost his soul,’ or he sold it. I do understand that these are strong accusations, so let me explain. Me and Kanye: Off
Prior to selling his soul, Kanye was in a long-term relationship, and even engaged at one point, to normal, girl next door type, Alexis Phifer. Now, he is dating strippers and skanks who seem to offer nothing more to the pissed-off prodigy than a “good time.” His music has even shifted from tight beats and progressive lyrics to depressing ballads (e.g. “Love Lockdown” and “Heartless”) powered by Auto-Tune. His “All of the Lights” video carries a warning by Epilepsy Action, as it could trigger seizures due to its overstimulating and hypnotic visual images, and personally, “Runaway (The Douchebag Song)” sounds like something straight out of The Shining, a 1980 horror film that is just as scary now, as it was then.
Kanye has further alienated himself from his fans with random twitter rants and outbursts, namely his interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. His outspokenness no longer appears to be fueled by a desire for change or awareness, and only leaves the public wondering if he has been recently diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. He has been subsequently banned from various events and venues largely due to his odd and unruly behavior, and his appearance lacks the innoxious and endearing quality it once had. He went from wearing preppy sweaters and teddy bear suits to edgy black and red leather ensembles and shades.
Soul-selling aside, every relationship has its problems, but they also have a breaking point. For me, Kanye West’s apology to Bush on national television a couple of months ago was just that. I hated how they painted Bush as the victim and West as the big bad wolf. If anything, Bush owed this country an apology for his failure to take action when it was so desperately needed on the Gulf Coast. Kanye West lost what little credibility he still had with this public retraction, and has thereby permanently lost my respect. The thrill is gone. Me and Kanye: Permanently Off