In his now-infamous Pitchfork album review, staff writer Ryan Dombal writes: …Kanye West is not Michael Jackson. Unlike Michael, he’s not interested in scrubbing away bits of himself– his blackness, his candidness– to appease the masses. And while Jackson’s own twisted fantasies of paranoia and betrayal eventually consumed him whole, West is still aware of his illusions, though that mindfulness becomes increasingly unmoored with each newspaper-splashing controversy. Pitchfork gave the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a score of 10.0 – their first perfect score in almost a decade (not counting re-issued albums). The Michael Jackson comparison is an interesting one though. To borrow the opening line from “Dark Fantasy” the opening track on Kanye’s fifth studio album: “can we get much higher?” – and rapper braggadocio aside, it is almost a perfect summation of – not only the career – but the vertiginous celebrity status that Kanye’s reached over the last 18 months.
Ever since the stage crashing Taylor Swift gaffe at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards he’s become as famous as anyone doing anything right now. I’m not suggesting that he was some underground hip hop bro prior to that moment, but that was the catalyst for the singular level of ubiquity he currently possesses; – it’s greater than Beyonce or or… shit I can’t even think of anyone close to having Kanye’s level of pop-cultural cache. It’s for that reason that, hypothetically, if someone was to takeover Michael Jackson’s eminent mantle – the ‘King of Pop’ – the only person who could step into those very large, shiny black loafers is Kanye West. He is the most divisive figure in popular culture right now: from his intermittent ALL-CAPS RANTING to internet dick pics to awkward interviews and 34.32 minute short films; his every move is discussed, publicised, analysed, mocked, exalted and criticised more than other celebrity, just as Michael was during the peak of his career.
There’s no doubt Kanye feeds the rabble with his outspoken tête-à-tête with media, and his prolific twitter discourse alone has become a highly quotable source, mastering the delicate balance of emotional truth, diatribe on desperate desire for recognition as an artist, and self-congratulatory hip hop machismo to become an entertaining, intriguing text in its own right. But really the Kanye West obsession is borne of our own curiosity and fascination for someone with such prolific talent, someone with the confidence to say shit to the masses that’s completely uncensored, someone who publicly questions his choices and actions, a risk taker, multi-tasker and a boundary pusher.
To use another quote off the album, this time from “Devil In A Blue Dress”: “Hard to be humble while you struttin’ on a jumbotron”. Damn straight ‘Ye.
Here’s a small taste of the KW obsession playing out in the world over the past few days…
The controversial Pitckfork review:
Conspiracy theories emerge within the music blogging world:
Complex Mag cover
Rolling Stone review 5 out of 5 stars
Tickets to an intimate show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom were going for $100,000
Kanye-related trend alert: kids act out Kanye West tweets #ZOMG
Kanye’s interview with Rihanna in Interview Magazine
Rihanna congratulates her bro:
“That’s My Bitch” rumoured to be the first track off his forthcoming collab album with Jay-Z (feat La Roux, produced by Q-Tip) was dropped on the internet:
Kanye West & Jay-Z featuring Elly Jackson – That’s My Bitch by Hypetrak
The only person not talking about Kanye West at the moment is Kanye West. His usually incessant twitter soliloquies have ceased over the last few days and the last activity his account has seen was on 16 November, including a a tweet praising the “Really tasteful well written review” of Dark Fantasy by Jake Paine of www.hiphopdx.com who capped off his review with these contemplative words:
“Whether it’s acknowledging his mistakes, measuring his might, or fantasizing of wifing Kristina Rose, Kanye West finds a way to relate to all. He’s not forcing his hand, just reminding us that the biggest star we appointed in the last five years can still recognize our own fantasies, insecurities and desire for colorful music from his spaceship.”
Title Image by Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty