Let's get this out of the way first: Kanye West makes incredible music. That much is undeniable. If anyone tries to dispute that, they deserve to be smacked. He's an innovator whose talents are better than a vast majority of rappers and producers in the hip-hop game right now. However, the following rant has nothing to do with his talents in either of those two fields.
The new songs he premiered on Saturday Night Live last weekend are actually really good. Lots of the early reviews and listens have compared “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead” to harder edged stuff like early Nine Inch Nails and even Death Grips. Lyrically, Kanye comes out swinging against the paparazzi and corporations (of course we all love to hate both) to take his music to new artistic territory. If these two songs are an indication of what's to come, it sounds like he's got a lot to say on this album. And we are right there with him, until…we get to the album title. Yeezus? Really? If there was a question about his God complex before, we certainly can't deny it now.
Somehow, some way, anything that Kanye does now is perceived to be an instant classic, ahead of anything that anyone has ever done before. This past weekend's antics have proven such. For someone of his stature, he carries a gigantic chip on his shoulder that has provided the fuel to his proverbial fire, best demonstrated on his first three albums. Yet at the same time, he took this as a license to do whatever he wanted and no one close to him had the balls to put him in his place.
Along the way, Kanye became bigger than his music. It's everyone's fault for letting his ego to go relatively unchecked outside of the Taylor Swift incident, thus creating an aura of megalomania that's both annoying and infuriating. Usually after event like swiftboatting Swift would humble someone and while it seemed to for a little (just look at how the underrated My Dark Twisted Fantasy was received), it looks like old Kanye is back and more out of control than ever.
When he broadcasted his new single “New Slaves” on the walls of 66 buildings across the globe, it was met with universal shock, awe and OMGs, thus feeding the machine. At first I met with this ambivalence and disinterest because all it was nothing more than a lavish publicity stunt for a record that will probably be cool without this unnecessary hype.
But it's the fawning and gushing over his every move that's almost as ridiculous as Kanye the caricature itself. If you went on Twitter Friday night, there were multiple mentions of the projection promotion, which in the end further proved effective. Those of us who met the event with ambivalence and a collective “meh”–despite the provocative shots taken at White America in the lyrics–were seen as outcasts for not buying in. Judging by the way people gush over his every move, one would think we're watching Elvis with all of the hype surrounding these actions.
Incredibly enough, that wasn't the worst, corniest and most over-hyped thing Kanye did last weekend. No, that would have to go the unveiling of the title of his soon-to-be released. If you had Yeezus in your office pool as most likely title to his next album then congratulations, you win. Yeezus has to be one of the most ridiculous names for anything on any level. Is his God complex so huge at this point that the only place left to go is to compare himself to Jesus Christ? If so, then he really hasn't learned anything and has gotten caught up in his own legend more than ever.
Music fans want to like, even love the rapper we've come to call Yeezy. Some even see him as the savior of popular music. That may be a bit extreme, but clearly with an album title as ridiculous and potentially as inflammatory as Yeezus, apparently the rapper/producer views himself that way. Even when he does something good with his lyrics, he manages to name his album something so far out there that it distracts from the message he's trying to convey. But that's what Kanye does, he pushes the public and we respond, but how long until his role as a pop culture provocateur outweighs his value as an artist?