Updated: Jan 30
Kanye has always been peculiar to me as an artist. His music was phenomenal but it was everything around the music that stood out to me. Since the beginning of his career Kanye has treated himself like a commodity. From rapping to everyone that would listen while starting out in music to his interviews and speeches proclaiming himself as the greatest. It was clear from the beginning that Kanye thought highly of himself and was determined you would too. In an era of reality shows and instagram celebrity Kanye West has become our modern day P.T. Barnum using the media as his own promotional team and his personality as his Elephant and giving us a look into his circus. The circus is the moments, music, clothes and everything around it.
As time went on he remained consistent delivering high quality music while giving the world a variety of big moments. Big moments. That's the part about Kanye that fascinates me the most. Kanye West conducts everything he does so he can have a big moment in time that's talked about around the world.
He has the world's biggest inside joke you know? Take his speech at the mtv awards when he was premiering his famous video. He made several references to personal life situations and everyone in that crowd understood. Everyone in that crowd was in on the Ray J and Amber Rose references. He used all of those moments to leverage his social currency and promote his own life.
Kanye delved into race relations in America, right before exclaiming that he is one of the top 10 memorable artist merchants of all time. It's been nearly 3 years since that speech yet I find myself going back to it often. You can see that in that moment Kanye knew he was living in a big moment in time. He acknowledges that Chance The Rapper was the future and since Chance has swept at the grammys becoming one of the highest selling rappers while being seemingly independent.
He talks to Amber Rose as if to acknowledge that she was as involved in the Ye vacuum of fame. I find myself going back and realizing, looking at his legacy he was right. His influence and impact of his moments are undeniable, and he called it at the time. It gives him the Ali effect of being able to predict the victory before the fight despite being doubted by the world. Every time Kanye says or does something out of the norm the media and people are quick to scrutinize him, but years later it becomes common belief or practice. From music, to public opinion, to fashion.
Yeezus was hated by many people but it went on to become a culture defining album that inspired tons of edm and alternative artists as much as rappers. Same with 808’s and heartbreaks. Same with the clothes with the holes in them. Same with his outspokenness of the 13th amendment and the need for prison reform back in 2013.
Publicly denouncing the president of the united states while being a prominent black figure on live television during a hurricane benefit wasn’t adored by the media as it is today. That is like a lot of Kanye West interviews and moments. I find myself going back and watching because his spontaneity and outburst of truth become a moment in time. Truly reflecting the zeitgeist and creating larger than life spectacles.
Kanye West actively knows his place in history and conducts himself as such. Creating large pop culture spectacles as a form of performance art. Kanye wore the MAGA hat and right now it's evil and he’s the bad guy. 10 years from now its that time Kanye talked about love, media programming, prison reform, violence in Chicago and Montessori schools all in the White House that only 118 years ago didn’t even allow black people inside, simply by wearing a red hat. Kanye has the largest sphere of “remember the time when” that any human on the planet has right now that's alive.
Remember the Taylor Swift incident? George Bush? Or the famous video? Or the kim kardashian marriage? Or the slavery comment? Or the confederate flag moment? Or Ray J? Or Yeezys? You ain't got the answers sway? These moments, like the white house interview, will stand the test of time because his music can stand the test of time.
If he didn’t have the spectacle Kanye would be just another really good rapper producer. But because of the moments he’s now Kanye West musical genius, billionaire, revolutionary and legend. Kanye has birthed a generation of kids who live for the big moment. That's why millenials are willing to spend more on an experience than any other generation. Kanye symbolizes living life like you are creating a movie. He treats every moment and album release like a sequel having recurring characters, narratives, inside jokes and social commentary, carving his place in the public consciousness. A place that not many people occupy and not many people will survive in. Kanye is an artist that uses the media and public opinion as his canvas, and like P.T. Barnum he uses those big moments to let us into his world. Kanye seems to be leaving his mark as one of few people and moments, and ultimately, that's what we should all aspire to do. Aspire for excellence and become the best we can possibly be. Live in every moment as if its all that exists and do some good on the way.