Kanye West is one of the most interesting people to watch in our current era. In many ways he’s an artist that could only exist in the Internet age, his popularity existing as an extension of his persona. That’s not to say his music isn’t great. It is. But its value has given us a greater gift, which is the presentation of his interior humanity in an exterior form. Sometimes we see this in verbal/visual outbursts but more often it manifests in a shorter, more digestible form. Regardless of the medium these tantrums are always public – that’s just one of the reasons why we love him. He gives so much of himself, even when he really shouldn’t. Like sometimes he should really just stop.
Earlier in the week Kanye announced the title and track list for his upcoming album. It’s a momentous occasion for the artist, whose music is sometimes experimental, sometimes strange, and always compelling – like the man himself. On Sunday the announced title was “Swish,” a word presumably meant to evoke the smooth transition of a basketball through a net, but which also carries a negative connotation in reference to homosexuality. It would be an interesting progression in West’s attitudes were it intended as such, but it probably wasn’t. So no one was very surprised when he retitled the album “Waves” late yesterday. Not everyone was pleased.
buried somewhere in all this bullshit is a tracklist
Unhappy with West’s appropriation of a word he considers the property of another artist, rapper Wiz Khalifa took West to task, tweeting out “Please don’t take the wave.” and “Max B is the wavy one. He created the wave. There is no wave without him.” I don’t know how much right one man has to claiming a title (especially when he’s not even doing it for myself), so Khalifa’s entitlement is already pretty shaky, but he definitely should have thought better of saying anything at all, because it led straight to Kanye’s now-infamous barrage. Such a hurling of words is certainly fun for us as outsiders to watch – who doesn’t enjoy instant classics such as “I made it so we can wear tight jeans” and “I am your OG and I will be respected as such” or “maybe I couldn’t be skinny and tall but I’ll settle for being the greatest artist of all time” – but I can’t imagine that it’s fun to be on the receiving end.
Actually, I know it’s not fun to be on the receiving end, as I recently was. New Year’s Eve can be a hell of a night and that “hell” can exhibit as “devilishly fun” or “relentlessly terrible.” This year I opted for the latter, which involved a long string of hostile, aggressive, and scary texts. Now I won’t sit here and claim that I am totally blameless in the impetus of these textual attacks (I’ll take only the smallest amount of responsibility, because I’m an enlightened liberal and that means that I have never done and will never do anything wrong). The messages I received were mostly meaner and didn’t include any complements (“I went to look at your twitter and you were wearing cool pants,” Kanye blasted out at one point), but at least my situation didn’t play out for everyone to see. Because once Kanye gets on a roll it’s kind of asking a lot of the followers of his Twitter feed not to hop right on board.
It’s because he so enthusiastic and ostensibly honest – no one is really like that anymore. Well, except for Charlotte Rampling
. Actually Twitter has allowed celebrities to be more open than ever before – more open than they ever should have been. In fact Twitter has become the go-to source for putting nails in coffins since its inception. And as much as we love Kanye, he is not immune to the ravages of on demand free-thought and free-speech. As you read through the his now-deleted tweets via this link
(Buzzfeed, I know, but they were the best source I could find), you’ll spend the first portion of it nodding your head in agreement with Kanye, not necessarily because you stand by what he stands by, but because you have a huge affinity for him and don’t really care about Khalifa (Kanye’s kind of right when he tweets that Khalifa’s breakout single “Black and Yellow” is “corny as fuck”). But then you start getting to the following: “you let a stripper trap you,” referring to West’s ex-girlfriend Amber Rose, with whom Khalifa shares a child; and “I know you mad every time you look at your child that this girl got you for 18 years.” While certainly in line with the other insults that West has been throwing out, these are little out of bounds – they’re attacking a woman who is not involved and they’re attacking her for wholly unjustified reasons. Come on ‘Ye. You’re better than this
Rose, who – as you’ll see – was not to be trifled with
Wait, what am I saying? No you’re not. This is pure West. Plus, this is exactly what we as an audience want from you – we want to be able to laugh with the artist and we want to be able to scream at them. We don’t want to feel bad or awkward when Rose gets involved and tweets in return “are u mad I’m not around to play in ur asshole anymore?” We want to relish in it! We want to be able to look at that and think it’s hilarious, when in reality it’s other people’s drama that we not only shouldn’t be involved in, but that also might be harming the very concept of social discourse. I’m not putting all the blame on us (again, I’ll only take so much) – no one is forcing notable figures to air their dirty laundry, but maybe we shouldn’t give said laundry so much attention (says the guy who just wrote a thousand words about it). Having said all that, it is pretty fun. Besides the social implications, my only real issue is that Khalifa didn’t fire back – though he seems to be over it, having most recently tweeted a “Shoutout to all the growers in Argentina. Your work is very much appreciated.” Once again, Yeezus takes the burden upon himself.
Kanye West v. Wiz Khalifa gets three out of five Imma let you finishes: