Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

On Kanye, New Slaves, Kim, College Dropout, and Kill Bill

Kanye-West-New-Slaves-prada-store

1. There are few movies I anticipated the way I anticipated Kill Bill Volume 2. None perhaps. As far as sequels to movies I’d loved goes, I also was anxious to see The Dark Knight and The Matrix Reloaded. But with each of those, I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen and, most importantly, the way the story was going to be told. With Kill Bill Volume 2, though, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to see. Yes, I knew Beatrix would find a way to kill Bill at the end of the movie, but would Elle Driver and Budd be given the same type of anime-intro O-Ren received? Which genre would Tarantino lean on more? Spaghetti Western? Blaxploitation? Samurai? Would the scenes follow a chronological order? How much would be shown in black and white?

As I’ve mentioned before, this same type of imperviousness to prediction is (to me) the most notable aspect of Kanye West’s talent, the most literal manifestation of his (depending on who you ask) genius, madness, or wackness. I can’t think of any other hip-hop artist who consistently defies expectations this way. I mean, when you hear that Jay-Z or Ghostface or Drake or whomever is releasing a new album, before you even hear it, anyone familiar with their work is going to have an idea of what it’s going to sound like. The only question is whether or not it’s going to be any good. But, trying to predict how a Kanye West album is going to sound is like trying to imagine how the air tastes on Jupiter. I think that people who anticipate his albums the way I do are compelled by this volatility, while the people who can’t stand him and/or find him inauthentic are annoyed by it.

2. It would be unwise to craft your final judgments on New Slaves and Black Skinhead right now because one thing you can predict about Kanye is that a Kanye song the first time you hear it and the album version of a Kanye song are likely to be completely different. But, in the chance that these were the final versions of the songs, I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to like them as much as I do. My opinions aren’t based on whatever “messages” the songs were trying to convey. I just like the way each sounds.

3. I loved College Dropout, but I do not miss College Dropout Kanye or want College Dropout Kanye to “come back.” For those who do—and, apparently, there are many—I don’t know if you realize how selfish that is. It’s also impossible, both literally (obviously) and figuratively. You’re asking someone to recreate memories and music so you can feel how you felt when it was initially created. You don’t want College Dropout Kanye back. You want who you were when College Dropout dropped to come back. Neither will ever happen.

Thing is, even if this were to happen—if Kanye or whoever was able to transform back into a long dead version of themselves just to replicate their art—you would not be able to replicate how you felt when first hearing it. Just as they’re not the same person, you’re not either, which is why it’s imperative to create new memories and associations instead of trying (and failing) to relive old ones.

4. From a personal perspective, I am almost completely neutral about Kim and Kanye’s relationship. And, by “I am almost completely neutral about their relationship” I mean “I am neither rooting for nor against them, but if a gun was pointed to my head and I had to choose, I’d root for them. I’d then ask Panama why he pulled a gun on me.”

But, as Rembert Browne alluded to last week, it’s near impossible to listen to a Kanye song or album now and not wonder what influence Kim has had on his work. For this reason, I think being with her may end up being the worst musical decision he’s ever made. I wont pretend to know what’s going on inside of Kanye’s head, but he’s always struck me as an artist who’s more concerned with product, legacy, and praise than popularity. Not only does he want to be the best artist, he wants everyone to recognize him as such. (Ironically, this maniacal focus on product and legacy has made him extremely popular. There’s a positive message here somewhere that I’d note if I cared about positive messages.)

But now Kim Kardashian’s shadow looms over his work. Regardless of how good (or bad) this album is—and regardless of whether their relationship has any influence at all on the quality of his work and the frequency that work is produced—Kim’s name will be mentioned in every longform review and article about it, and her presence will be thought of when people assess this album. She, he, and them together are too transcendentally (and, perhaps, intentionally) bizarre for this not to happen.

For an artist so concerned with legacy, so concerned with how his work is regarded, you have to wonder why he’d willingly enter a relationship that would have such an effect on how people regard his work.

(Actually, I don’t really wonder why. Although Kanye has been the subject of numerous gay rumors, he’s always struck me as a person who’s exclusively attracted to and infatuated with women and completely dependent on their validation. Basically, he seems like the type of guy who needs women to cum while f*cking him for him to get any lasting pleasure out of sex. Sure, the woman “wins,” but it’s really all about him and proving to himself—and her—that he has that power. For a person who thinks like this, Kim Kardashian—a woman whose popularity largely stems from being the amalgamation of a million different porn-addicted men’s sexual chimeras—is not only an understandable choice, she’s the best one.)

5. I think certain decisions Kanye has made has caused many to think of him as a shameless attention whore. I’ve never agreed with this, mainly because I can’t think of a current celebrity who’s noticeably disquieted by attention more than he is. It feels like he wants to be known and thought of, but not actually engaged unless he has complete control of the interaction. Basically, he’s the music world’s unlikeliest introvert.

6. I think Kanye is the single most important person in music right now. I think he’s very aware of this. He also must be aware that his last album was regarded by many very serious hip-hop critics as one of the best rap albums ever made. I think this would put any artist under a shitload of pressure. I’m (obviously) not sure how Kanye is handling this, but I think we’ll have a better idea June 18th.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) 

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    I think everything Kanye is/ has been doing for the last few years is a direct result of him grieving for his mother. I really think losing her has thrown him for a loop. I seriously doubt he’d be with Kim (or would have been with Amber) if his mom was around. And, I’m sure his music would be a lot different. If he’s lucky in a few more years he’ll get back to being Kanye, if he gets the proper support.

    *am I first?*

    If so I’d like brownies and rum raisin ice cream please.:-)

    • nillalatte

      I’ll provide you the rum, cause this looks like a boys night chat… to me. ;) But, nah, I feel ya on the ‘if his mom was around’ thought process. I know I’d be acting a damn fool if my mom’s passed. I’d probably be finding love in all the wrong places too. That’s about all I have on this subject. Night all.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Yeah, I can definitely see this becoming a hip hop aficionado pi*sing match.

        *sips rum*

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        “I’ll provide you the rum, cause this looks like a boys night chat… to me. ”

        What? Only men can talk about hip hop?

        • miss t-lee

          Yeen know?! *cackles*

    • Secret Sauce

      If only we could grieve the loss of loved ones in the bosoms of Amber Rose and Kim Kardashian…

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Lol. Amber maybe but, Kim not so much. The thought of following in Ray J’s footsteps isn’t appealing at all..

        • Todd

          And we concur on this. Amber seems like a much more chill person, though I wouldn’t exactly turn down a night with Kim K just for the whole “I banged Kim K” trash talk. :)

        • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 McNairian

          We can’t worry about the footsteps we follow, only the ones we make.

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

            Says the man sitting in the clinic waiting for the nurse to call his name.

            • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 Fiveisthenumber

              Who got burnt?

              • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

                People whose life philosophy is “We can’t worry about the footsteps we follow, only the ones we make.”

                Lol.

                • keith

                  the few posts above me were worth clicking on this

    • JhaneSez

      “I think everything Kanye is/ has been doing for the last few years is a direct result of him grieving for his mother. I really think losing her has thrown him for a loop. I seriously doubt he’d be with Kim (or would have been with Amber) if his mom was around.”

      Agreed… I don’t think either would be someone he would take home to meet his mama, let alone incubate his seed in the cesspool of the Kardashian womb. ~JS

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        “…let alone incubate his seed in the cesspool of the Kardashian womb.”

        Lol.

    • Charlie

      I agree with Wendy Williams on the Kimye situation. She’s gonna end up being a single mom. But i’m an outsider; so who knows

      • Todd

        Well, considering Kim Kardashian’s past, are you not surprised? Real talk, look at regular chicks who have been on Kim K’s dating steez. I’m not saying that they’re all doomed, but the odds aren’t in their favor.

        • Charlie

          Not surprised at all

          “look at regular chicks who have been on Kim K’s dating steez”

          Tell me more about this steez you speak of lol

          • Todd

            Kim K is the celebrity version of that chick in the hood who is attractive, mildly annoying and STAY showing off that New Man of Hers to errbody she know…but will have a new one every 3 months. It’s a specific form of wh0ring around where they are both validated by new D, and they need the new D to be validated by everyone in church/beauty salon/sorority/social club/elementary school/etc. Truth be told, in pure body count, they aren’t even that bad, but the fact that every new dude is rubbed in everyone’s faces makes her look worse than she really is.

            Still, when that’s your MO, eventually dudes get hip to the game, and the quality of dudes she pulls slowly declines until she ends up marrying some lame…which she SWEARS is the Best Thing Ever ™. By this point, everyone is sick of her game. Eventually, either the dude turns out to be lamer than everyone first thought or gets hip to the game and rolls out on ol’ girl, leaving her a single mom.

            • Charlie

              Oh ok, but I think Kanye is one of, if not the highest level of guy she’s been with. Other than that; I agree.

            • Asiyah

              Agreed, Todd.

    • Todd

      *hands Val rum raisin ice cream and brownies, since his new clean eating diet discourages sweets, and he needs to get them out the house*

      I definitely agree on the grieving for his mom part. He NEEDED his mother, and their relationship always struck me as unhealthily close. I understand getting along with your mom, but you shouldn’t be grown and up under her all the time. I think this also dovetails nicely with what Champ said about needing validation from women, and Kim Kardashian being the ultimate manifestation of that. Simply put, if he can’t have the Best Woman Ever giving him love, he can get a woman who a large number of dudes think is the Best Woman Ever do give him love.

      Sidebar: Is it just me, or does Kim K remind you of that woman who looks like they are having the Worst Pregnancy Ever when you see photos of her? LOL

      • IcePrincess

        Yea, she big as a house. She’s carrying all over.

        • AfroPetite

          I’m the same height as Kim and about 10-15 lbs lighter than her on her best day. If this is what pregnancy is going to do to my frame I don’t want it. I don’t want it at all.

          • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

            *tries to visualize*

            • AfroPetite

              Eww, let’s not and say we did.

        • Todd

          Good metaphor, especially since that Met Gala pic with that dress that makes her look like a couch. LOL

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        Was the relationship “unhealthy close”? I think that considering Kanye’s age when he came on the scene his relationship with his mom not only defined him but made him very different from other rappers.

        I’m not an expert on his music but, when he was a new artist he seemed to not be into the ‘b*tch and h*e’, etc. routine that most rappers are, which I’ve always attributed to his mother’s influence. Am I wrong?

        • Todd

          You’re right that his relationship with women when he first came out was different than your typical rapper. That said, you can respect women without being a mama’s boy. I remember some of those early interviews he did with his mom and cringing a bit. Maybe I’m just warped from my perspective, but a man needs a bit of healthy distance from his mom as an adult.

          Kanye West did not have that distance.

      • mena

        She probably isn’t that big and it’s just the way she is carrying the weight. I am sure that once the little one pops out, Kim will make sure that she is back to where she once was.

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

          I agree, I think she looks bigger than she is because she always looks like her clothes are too tight. It’s like she’s trying to wear her regular clothes even though she’s pregnant.

          • mena

            Exactly.

            She doesn’t look comfortable and it shows in pictures. Many pregnant women are much bigger than Kim K but still look wonderful b/c they wear clothes that fit their new baby body.

          • Todd

            I think it’s a bit of this, a bit of that. Her wearing regular clothes while pregnant is a bit of a dumb move. Still, there isn’t a line of maternity clothes that’s going to hide how much she’s swelling all over, to the point I’m wondering if she’s really OK.

            It is funny how women make it through pregnancies. Some just get a bump that disappears 3 months after the baby is born. Some women go through a 2nd puberty and end up with hips, butt and boobs they didn’t have before. And some end up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow that would shoot water all over if you poked them with a needle. You can’t really predict these things until a woman gets pregnant, and even then they might vary from pregnancy to pregnancy.

        • http://twitter.com/inomallday Shamira

          no she’s not that big. see here –> http://www.usmagazine.com/uploads/assets/articles/62651-kim-kardashian-flaunts-pregnant-bikini-body-on-family-vacation-in-greece-picture/1367961568_u953cover-lg.jpg

          she’s just 1) really tiny/short so the weight will always look more dramatic on her 2) Has no idea how to flatter her pregnant frame. Girl, peplum is not your friend anymore. And STOP letting Kanye dress you!

          And for the love of God Almighty, stop trying to squeeze your swollen feet into your favorite heels from last year. It’s just not worth it.

        • prissychrissy23

          He is an only child. We’re different.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “And, I’m sure his music would be a lot different. If he’s lucky in a few more years he’ll get back to being Kanye, if he gets the proper support.”

      This Kanye isn’t Kanye?

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        No, this Kanye is an just a little bit off clone of the real Kanye.

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

          I do think this Kanye. B/c he’s a Gemini. And we are a many faceted group. However, I do see your point. I think he’s been in a several year funk. The thing about it is that he’s still able to create great music. But, I do miss the music that seemed like he actually enjoyed life. MBDTF was dark as hell. And if this new music is any indication, and I think it is, we’re in for another uberdark album.

          Which, yeah, that boy misses his momma.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

            I actually prefer this kanye. perhaps because i usually prefer darker music

            • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

              and by prefer darker music you mean you hate love.

              • Walter

                This Kanye discussion reminds me of the Prince discussion – post Purple Rain …. Rasberry Beret, et. al. Dude is an “artist.” He’s not trying to sound the same. In fact, the irony of Kanye: Cares what you think of him and his music but doesn’t care what you think about him and his music cuz he thinks he’s smarter than you… * I kinda like that about dude *

            • h.h.h.

              you sound colorist, champ.

              *protests and pickets you*

              #MusicColorist

            • Asiyah

              me too, Champ. love his old stuff but his current stuff speaks more to me. i’m biased since i do prefer darker music.

      • Jay

        I HATE the notion that Kanye is a “different person” now. It usually comes from black people who believe that “College Dropout” Ye is the real Kanye. If anything we’re seeing the real Kanye now, and College Dropout Kanye was just us having a first look and seeing a small part of an interesting character. Now he’s one of the most famous people on the planet. Like they say: “Money doesn’t change you, it just makes you more of what you already are.”

        • IcePrincess

          So true.

        • SankofaLady

          This is my though as well. Maybe “College Drop Out” wasn’t the “real” Kanye and this modern Kanye is the real Kanye.

          Either way, he was lying to me then or lying to me now, so I no longer support that musical genius LOL.

        • Asiyah

          I think he is different, but it isn’t a complete 180. Furthermore, he has experiences now that he didn’t back then. Those, in turn, affect his music. If they didn’t then he wouldn’t be an artist.

    • Asiyah

      I actually agree with you, Val, though I feel Amber isn’t that bad. She’s grown up a bit, and I don’t think his mother would have had a problem with her in the long run. Kim is another story. But yeah, like you, I feel he’s still grieving and a lot of his crazy actions right now are a direct result of that. They were very close, after all. And it hurts so much more that he never had an opportunity to make her a grandmother and mother-in-law while she was alive.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Hiya, Asiyah!

        *waves*

        :-)

        You’re right, Amber seems like a totally different person than Kim. I’ve always liked her persona. But, my point was that I really don’t think Kanye would have even been checking for Amber had his mom still been around.

        • Asiyah

          Hey there Val!

          That’s a valid point. Maybe you’re right!

    • http://twitter.com/dtafakari dtafakari

      Val, I agree. 808s palpably HURT to listen to. Can’t nobody say men don’t feel. Kanye was all IN his (legitimate) feelings with that album.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        That’s one of the things that makes him different from most rappers, introspection and real emotion.

    • http://www.youtube.com/singkiamuze Kia Muze

      + 1

  • Jay

    Yeezy Season…

    • JhaneSez

      “Yeezy Season…”

      This about sums it up for me, I think I go so hard in the paint for Ye because I get it, I really do.

      Cruel Summer was in rotation in my car, ipad, iphone, for about 6 months because it was so satisfying and nuanced, it was as if I had to get past the pleasure of listening to understand, because it spoke to me so… I was compelled to listen to it single to single, no edits.

      And I wanted to understand… everything, like jazz… lyrical choices, because I know there were a hundred verses why these, the beatz, the timing, the influences… I wanted to know what he meant.

      Yeezus… I can hear it now, but I don’t know if it will be Praise Yeezus or Yeezus wept, all I know is the anticipation is killing me… like Christmas morning.

      New Slaves, Black Skinhead are an musical amuse bouche… single bites of what I hope to be a complex tasting menu… a tease really because I’m just wanting more… its a sensory need.

      I can’t tell you why I stan so hard… even with the accolades and awards I still feel he is an underappreciated genius, and I’m sure he would agree… my frustration is I find that I lack the ability to put my finger on the articulation of why I listen… the music cuts to the core of hip hop at its base cadence, but the production and lyrical word play is all artful sophistication… swoon.

      I’m not made of wood.

      But I am also indifferent to Kim, I personally find her useless, but I understand the attraction for him. As an influence I see her as nothing more than an interesting footnote, and a future triva question.

      I think what will be more interesting, and relevant will be the reflection of impending fatherhood for a fatherless black man… his son will be his living breathing legacy alongside his musical children… what are his thoughts, and more importantly what do those thoughts sound like today.

      The first releases is obviously visual, deliberately prompting a visceral reaction through the absence of both color and light… which is almost the opposite of what one would expect given the joy most people experience during similar life events love, possibly marriage, the birth of children.

      Instead what I saw was a much darker reflective side, heavy and angry rhythms driven by tribal percussions, evoking the side of the brain that taps into the fear that every parent feels at some point, when they give themselves over to the idea that they will be protecting and nurturing a new life in a very corrupt world.

      I know this feeling very well…

      Sigh.

      I done got way too deep… let me got to bed ~JS

      • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 McNairian

        You Stan eloquently…+5

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        “I can’t tell you why I stan so hard… even with the accolades and awards I still feel he is an underappreciated genius”

        I agree with this as well. Maybe I wont go as far as to call him a genius, but I don’t think his music is respected the way that it should be

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

          I don’t know about that, Champ. A while back I heard a review of his last album on NPR and that reviewer seemed to think Kanye was at or near the genius level. The general public doesn’t see him that way but, music industry folks do, i think.

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

          Exactly how respected do you think it should be if its not respected enough? Everybody you know lauds him. He’s critically acclaimed every time out. He’s easily recognized as one of the most ambitious artists out there and has managed to snag mainstream success doing something usually reserved for indie artists due to his experimentation.

          If he isn’t as respected as he should be, and I’m not sure he isn’t musically, it’s because his antics have at some points outshined his music. Which would be his fault. But I do think that when people say he is underappreciated its likely because no discussion of his music is without discussion of personal life…but he’s made them so much one and the same. And he’s a rapper, a genre where your personal narrative is germane to your art.

          All that to say…lol…why do YOU think he’s underappreciated?

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

            “All that to say…lol…why do YOU think he’s underappreciated?”

            I actually see some parallels between the way him and lebron are regarded. people who follow music/basketball closely—even if they aren’t particularly fond of them—have to admit that they’re all-time great talents whose names belong up there with whoever else’s names are usually thought of with all-time greats.

            but, there’s a certain segment of the public that just refuses to admit that, that believes they’re generally untalented and fabricated and that it’s near blasphemy to even mention their names in the same breath of any all-time great. it’s an intentional lack of recognition that, aside from maybe Beyonce, no one else in that position has had to deal with. Basically, I think Kanye is somewhat underappreciated for the same reasons I think Lebron is actually somewhat underrated

            • Todd

              You’re right, and for a reason PJ touched on. I’m not saying Lebron is on Kanye’s level in terms of antics, but both have done stuff that has managed to alienate a large number of people irreparably. In other words, you can’t serious piss people off and then expect them to love you unconditionally. Human being have feelings and stuff.

            • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

              how does that make them different than anybody else? Sure we all agree now that MJ is the greatest entertainer of all time, but even he had his detractors who felt like his greatest outputs (Thriller, Bad) were fluff and pop BS. It happens. Nobody is going to be universally lauded. Stevie Wonder has his detractors. Hell, some people HATE The Beatles. And loudly so. Those folks are generally drowned out by those who love and admire their works though, which happens with Kanye. Sure you’ll find people who don’t think MBDTF was great…but they’re in more of the minority.

          • JhaneSez

            “All that to say…lol…why do YOU think he’s underappreciated?”

            He gets nominated but he doesn’t win, even when considering the competition for certain awards he clearly should.

            He talks reckless and shows out on occasion… that is the part of his persona that he gets penalized for.

            He hasn’t raped, molested, killed, shot, stabbed, hit, stole from anybody, or even broke a paparazzi camera … these are the lifestyle things that usually get you labeled, judged, and penalized.

            Ye just runs his mouth and snatches mics on occasion.

            I think that there is a level of arrogance along with the innovation and critical acclaim that still makes people say he’s overrated, or they don’t care for it, and then they start to rattle off all their exception songs until they have listed all but a couple songs on a Kanye album they swear they were indifferent too.

            I won’t call one out because you can pick any one of them, including 808’s and it would illicit a similar response, especially if you play a track that wasn’t a single and people start riding the vibe asking what track, what album.

            That’s what I call the height of underappreciated… being at the top of your game, and being met with reluctant recognition ~JS

        • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

          That sounds like something Kanye would say.

      • http://www.TheNewEve.com Bunni

        +millions

        Cruel Summer was like the low grade hit that I needed till Kanye dropped a new album…I was really on Pookie status lol, playing it everyday, hyped when it was a kanye verse…now June 18 couldnt come any quicker…

        I love Kanye the way I love Van Gogh and Warhol and Kerouac….theres a madness behind his genius, and he is falteringly imperfect….I accept and adore his hypocrisies, I love that I NEVER know what to expect from him, and if Kim breaks his heart, I will have her azz on a platter. (**sidebar: It really irks the crap outta me when ppl refer to Kim as a “white american” …sure she has a few privileges, but that heffa is Armenian, not white american…unless we’re going by the whole “if youre not black, youre white” rule. blegh)

        …speaking of, I’m not necessarily a Kim fan (I’m Team Khloe all day errday), but I respect her hustle. We cant deny her business savvy. Her and Ye have been friends for a VERY long time, so them being together didnt surprise me, nor did it bother me. Theyre so alike in so many ways, its a waste of time tryna dissect their relationship. Much ado about nothing.

        I honestly dont think she will influence his music that much. Kanye has changed HER whole life around, but I really dont see him being that swayed by her….the only woman to have an effect on him was Donda….but maybe this baby will be the big stakeholder…

        either way im hype and this new album will be all that i play till 2014 lol

      • Asiyah

        I like what you said, Jhane Sez!

      • Daisy

        Yes!!!! Somebody else Stans down for Yeezy too. I loves me some Ye always has. New Slaves knocks! Rants, tantrums, dark music etc I’m here for it all.

        I like Kim K too #judgeme

  • Jay

    I 100% cosign your 3 and 4… and I’ve never considered it before, but 5 is also on point. I really, really, really like MBDTF but I’m really confused as to how anyone could consider it as one of the greatest ever in hip hop history. Maybe the greatest since 2010… maybe one of the most masterfully produced ever, but best ever… I don’t see it.

    • JhaneSez

      Jay… please don’t make me cut you…

      I haven’t got the energy right now to do a post mortem on the wonder, timeless beauty and perfection that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

      And how it is a seminal work of art not just for Kanye, but for the annals of hip hop history.

      I will suffice to say you are wrong… and that is not an opinion, but a clear irrefutable fact (to be debated later) ~JS

      • Nomadanare

        Please explain this! I’ve only given mbdtf a cursory listen (honestly about all I need to determine if an album is good), but it didn’t strike me as a particularly good album. How much of your opinion and also Champ’s ‘critics’ are based on the pitchfork review (whose opinion I don’t really respect)?

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          “How much of your opinion and also Champ’s ‘critics’ are based on the pitchfork review (whose opinion I don’t really respect)?”

          The album was receiving unprecedented critical praise (well, unprecedented for a rap album) even before that Pitchfork review was published.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      I think its only hard to consider it a greatest ever b/c there’s a solid pre-2001 cannon of music that we tend to hold holier than all else. Even looking at my favorite albums of all time in hiphop, they’re all from the 90s. And it feels weird placing MBDTF next to The Chronic…but it does belong there.

  • Malik

    Eh. Kanye pretty much solidified to me that I’m no longer his audience in my mind. It’s cool though.

    • IcePrincess

      Why, Malik?

      • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 McNairian

        I agree Malik. Kanye has agendas. For example, College Dropout was the ultimate eff you album. It’s like the last player picked was one of the best players and there was nothing you could do about it. Every subsequent album was and has been a peacock album. “Look! Watch! Marvel in my abilities!” I can’t consistently get with that.

    • Rachmo

      @Malik it’s like you’re in my head. Just yesterday I said to a friend that I felt like I was in too positive a head space to listen to Kanye right now.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        I can see that. His music – and I like to pretend that Cruel Summer doesn’t exist, makes my nights easier – has taken a decidedly dark bent and it can be hard to listen to. Lyrically. I’m a music person so the musical aspect of me sh*ts unicorn poptarts every time he releases something.

        • JhaneSez

          Cruel Summer isn’t Godfather 3, which we know doesn’t exist ~JS

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Kanye pretty much solidified to me that I’m no longer his audience in my mind.”

      please expound and shit

      • Malik

        Just the locations he decided to display the new tracks at says a lot to me. Even though he’s being critical of these same establishments as a “new slave” that’s exclusively where he’s at when displaying his new music.

        • That Ugly Kid

          Maybe it’s because he wanted those establishments to know he means business. Kinda like how when people were urging Reebok to drop Rick Ross, where were people protesting? Right outside of Reebok headquarters. Or maybe because these are establishments people frequent, thus, it will reach more audiences. I mean, the point of getting out a messege you want people to hear, is to make sure as many people as possible can hear it.

          • Malik

            There is a DISTINCT class and racial diverse between the audiences he choose and what he is attempting to communicate and who he has been attempting to ingratiate himself towards over the last 5 3-4 years.

            • SankofaLady

              +1

            • That Ugly Kid

              Not really. He seems to want to be recognized and accepted by all people. I disagree with the thought that’s he’s trying to get himself into white society. His music and antics contradicts that thought. Heavily. Especially the music he’s recently released. I just see him as a person who wants his credit. It seems like pushes hard for mainstream media/America because between him not getting certain awards (I’m looking at you, Grammys), and him garnering enormous amounts criticisms (death wishes even), he feels like people still don’t appreciate him, musically.

    • NomadaNare

      Completely agree with this.

  • The Other Jerome

    Number 4 is so on point that (especially the last paragraph of it) should be framed!

    Great post!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      Thanks and shit

  • NipseysKlub

    Shout out to Kim K for becoming the Armenian version of Ekryah Badu with her musical influence on men. I have been roo far removed from music to have any true idea of Kanye current music. Not sure if I would call MBT album Kanye best but who knows.

    • Jay

      I have been roo far removed from music to have any true idea of Kanye current music.

      Shout out to Kim K for becoming the Armenian version of Ekryah Badu with her musical influence on men.

      The first statement… proved by the second.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

        Ouch. *opens First Shade Kit*

        • Jay

          Nice…First Shade Kit…. I just got that. =/

  • The Other Jerome

    BTW, Kanye is one of the reason’s i still love Hip-Hop.

    My 90′s rapper homies that are still creating are holding me down as well.

    But for me Kanye is approaching G.O.A.T status as a total package. Others may be better lyrically, but it takes more then just lyrics to create a Hip-Hop super hero.

    The dude consistently puts out “complete” albums. In a society full of “one-offs” and singles, you can’t tell me he’s not “check-mating” the game.

    • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

      “but it takes more then just lyrics to create a Hip-Hop super hero.”

      Thats blasphemy.

      • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 McNairian

        Pure, unadulterated blasphemy.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        How exactly is that blasphemy?

        Isn’t that why ninjas like Supernat and Canibus never quite got their shine. Lyrical beasts who couldn’t put together songs or albums worth listening to?

        I could be missing the issue here, but I’m curious.

        • http://twitter.com/dtafakari dtafakari

          This may be disingenuous of me. But isn’t the point of being a rapper…to rap well?

          Forgive me, I’m a purist! I think musicality and beat choice and production are essential. But lawd, what else am I going to listen to rap/hip-hop for, if not to get hype over lyrics? You could spit lyrics over a garbage MIDI beat and still have my respect.

          • That Ugly Kid

            But isn’t the point of being a rapper…to rap well?

            Sure. But the point of being a rap ARTIST is to make good songs. You can be as lyrical as Eminem, but if you can’t make a good song, then you’re a terrible rap artist. Being a Rap Artist is more than just lyrical ability, because crafting a song has way more variables to it then just standing on a street corner freestyling or going off the dome.

            This is why battle rappers are typically known to make horrendous Rap Artists (Eminem and Biggie were exceptions). Because while many of them are lyrically proficient in one way or another, the vast majority of them are TERRIBLE songwriters. I’d rather be someone who’s lyrically slightly above average, but can craft complete albums, than someone who’s only notable talent is being able to stuff as many syllables in bar as humanly possible, but otherwise makes lackluster music.

            • http://twitter.com/dtafakari dtafakari

              I concede your point about artistry as opposed to naked lyricism selling whole albums. It’s important for industry-minded people; yet an album isn’t the only litmus test for great rap artistry, is it? But if you ignore the lyrical component, as so many cats do (or end up doing toward the wane of their careers), you are beholden to a beat. A great song (dope beat/hook), with wack lyrics, to me, is a wack song. Just my taste in music, I guess.

              • That Ugly Kid

                The thing is, no one completely ignores lyrical ability. It’s just that people realise that everyone doesn’t have to be Nas or Eminem on the mic to craft great music. People who completely ignore lyrical prowess (like Waka, Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, etc) despite have sometimes great production, still aren’t consider great rap artists. There has to be a balance.

              • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

                I agree. Its one thing to be dependent on a stage presence and an ambiance to put on a show. That’s cool right there and its nothing wrong with it. But a made up personality (or personality disorder) can only go so far. When you talk about somebody that’s gonna last in the game as I suppose a hip hop superhero would, you need somebody that can have content that sounds nice acapella or at least close to it.

            • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

              but again battle rapping doesn’t make you a good lyricist. That’s an example where some good lyricists shine, but that not the apprentice step to becoming a lyricist.

            • Asiyah

              “This is why battle rappers are typically known to make horrendous Rap Artists (Eminem and Biggie were exceptions).”

              Makes sense. Canibus is a good battle rapper but has crappy music, and so is Dizaster.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

            But that does not a good song make. I listen for music as art. The art of hip-hop music involves words, beats, and life. Tribe taught us that back in like 1996. lol. point is, good lyrics of a trash beat is not worth listening to.

            You want to rap without beats…go ahead and be a slam poet or something. But these n*ggas CHOOSE to rap over beats. You are a rap artist.

            At the end of the day, you want dope lyrics as well. Just like you want a hot beat as well. You hope for balance between the two. These guys legacies are cemented in vinyl/CD form. That is not a spoken word album but one that is a total package. YOu need the total package.

            • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

              Yeah, but you also want to be the one to create that song that all the lil kids are singing on their way to school without a band or drumset behind you. When all the kids was singing Hard Knock Life back in 1998 or whenever it was it wasn’t cause they wanted to be poets. It was because the song had such great lyrics that people wanted to hear it and sing it with or without the (great) production behind it.

              I’ve said before that Nas has made me (two times that I can remember) as a grown man sit in my car and put his songs on repeat so I could learn them myself. First one was One Mic, second one was N.I.*.*.E.R. I think those lyrics could be said at Def Jam but that doesn’t mean they’re not hip hop classics.

              • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

                You actually think that people love that song more for the lyrics than the hook, sung by lil orphan annie” that inspired the words? c’mon son.

                you cant be serious. people sing the hook. while i love the song, there’s a reason why Jay and other ninjas were fighting to get that beat off of mark the 45 king after kid capri played it in the club. that beat is insane. added with jay’s lyricism and you get a monster hit. but don’t downplay the beat’s factor in it. those lyrics without that music behind it dont carry near the same punch.

                • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

                  You know what HKL is probably a bad example, but go back to reasonable doubt, matter of fact go to illmatic – one of the best LPs ever to hit stores. You telling me that people was singing Memory Lane because of the beat? Or go to Reasonable Doubt and Can’t Knock the Hustle and its the same thing.

                  Its all good to have a good beat to your song and I’d agree that thats a critical part of achieving commercial success. But there’s a reason that a guy like Memphis Bleek never got any good beats – his flow is garbage and his lyrical content is nonexistent. If I’m a producer then I don’t want to give my best stuff to just anybody, I want to give it to somebody that’s going to do something nice with it. I mean what’s the point of John Wall throwing up the perfect lob pass for the alley-oop, only to have a bum like JaVale McGee fumble it and turn the ball over?

        • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

          Why when somebody talking about lyrics people always gotta mention Canibus? Canibus was a decent rapper, but being able to use big words doesn’t make you a lyricist any more than being able to add big numbers makes you a mathematician. Canibus has other problems. When you talk about longevity and stuff then you’re talking about appealing to the masses and appealing to the masses don’t mean you’re the best, just like the smartest person isn’t the person who’s always on CNN. But there are several talented lyricists who have been able to make a good living for themselves.

      • That Ugly Kid

        Canibus would like to have a word with you.

        Busta Rhymes would like to have a word with you.

        The entirety of Slaughterhouse would like to have a word with you.

        • http://twitter.com/inomallday Shamira

          dog, you’re really using Canibus and Slaughterhouse to prove your point? Canibus is walking punchline at this point, and that’s NOT a positive. Slaughterhouse tried to put a cohesive album TWICE and missed the mark both times. I love all of those rappers individually, but they seem not to be able to put a good track together that isnt a simulated cipher. I’ll let Busta rock even though he’s with the prepubescent Motley Crue that is Young Money.

        • http://twitter.com/inomallday Shamira

          wait…I just followed that thread properly….I take back my shade. Sorry TUK!!! Lol. *hugs it out?*

          This new comment organization has me all out of sorts.

    • http://www.TheNewEve.com Bunni

      agreed. kanye doesnt put out a compilation of singles and forgettable tracks….808′s was MAYBE his only album that I skipped some tracks on….MAYBE…but otherwise, he consistently puts out albums that you listen to from top to bottom and back again…

      ….I feel like Kanye stans should just take the day off at VSB lol, we’re about as biased as a member of the Church of King Bey

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        “agreed. kanye doesnt put out a compilation of singles and forgettable tracks….808?s was MAYBE his only album that I skipped some tracks on….MAYBE…but otherwise, he consistently puts out albums that you listen to from top to bottom and back again…”

        let us not forget, that with “good friday” he basically released an entire album full of good songs as an appetizer to his album

  • That Ugly Kid

    Well, MBTWF is one of my Top 10 albums (of any genre) of all time. And very few artists (who’s released at least 3 albums), in any genre, have a discography as near-flawless as Kanye’s. Especially as far as his solo albums go. Dude is one of the greatest artists ever and is currently my second favorite rapper of all time (Eminem’s #1).

    Also, it also amuses me seeing people get butthurt at Kanye naming his album Yeezus.

    #AllHailYeezus

    • Todd

      My problem isn’t the title but that attitude it represents. Dude, you are not a deity. Chill playa. Stop trying so DAMN HARD!

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

        musicians pretending to be deities isn’t exactly new tho

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

          Usually it’s the fans that try to make gods out of artists though.

      • That Ugly Kid

        Get over it.

        #AllHailYeezus

        • http://www.TheNewEve.com Bunni

          #YeezusBe
          #YeezusOnTheMainline

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          “Get over it.”

          this made me laugh aloud

      • http://twitter.com/inomallday Shamira

        I feel like any fan of Jay-Z who refers to him as Hov doesn’t have a leg to stand on. (not saying you do, btw.)

        My issue with the title is that, along the lines of what someone said on twitter, its a name that stans have been giving him for a minute and so it just seems lazy/uninventive and pandering. Is Beyonce’s next album gonna be titled “Yaaaaaaaaaaaassssss” ?!

        I would die of laughter if it was, btw.

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

          I’d die if she titled it Beysus.

          • http://twitter.com/inomallday Shamira

            or, since we’re putting hashtags on songs now…

            #BeyHive

        • Rachmo

          @Shamira “Yaaaassssss”

          I flatlined.

      • Asiyah

        “My problem isn’t the title but that attitude it represents. Dude, you are not a deity. Chill playa. Stop trying so DAMN HARD!”

        Have a problem with the title AND the attitude it represents, Todd. And to top it off, I know Kanye doesn’t see himself as a deity, but his need to show that he’s amazing and get respect at all costs clouds his judgment sometimes. Chill, Kanye. No need to prove yourself all the time. Let your work speak for itself.

  • http://nappytite.net PdotFunk

    What I’d like to know: Why is Kanye so angry?

    (P.S. Y’all trippin with this GOAT talk)

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      I’m with you on calling him the GOAT. I’ve been wracking my brain to determine if I’ve ever said anything like that personally. lol.

  • kid video

    When Ye first signed to the ROC nobody could have seen him being where he is today…That 50 Cent/Kanye “showdown” a few years back definately cemented his (stadium)status music in the music industry and help usher in the “emo era”(Pharrell was the “first” Kanye)…his albums releases are “events” like Micheal Jackson and Guns-n-Roses albums in the 90s where ppl would line up overnite at the record store.
    Basically, its Ye’ season once again…its gonna be a long summer.

    • Malik

      Don’t you DARE put Kanye within the same book as Michael Jackson. They are nowhere near events on even the lowest of MJ’s life. Come one man. Stop that foolishness.

      • Ocia

        Tell them!

    • Sahel

      Kanye at par with the game changer that MJ was,i think not

    • Todd

      First of all, Gun-and-Roses isn’t on Mike’s level, period. No disrespect to Axl Rose, Slash and the fam, but they would have killed their own mother in cold blood to move the same units as Blood On The Dancefloor every album, and they played to sold out stadiums on the regular.

      Is Yeezy popular? Yeah. But fall back on the MJ rhetoric. We might not live to see someone that popping ever again.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

        We won’t….the era is just different now, we drag our stars thru the mud now

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com esa

          MJ got some baaad press. he still gettinn it now, and he dead. they wont eva let him rest. but he knows this. thas why he got Paris. she gonna take care of things ~*~

        • Malik

          It’s a different era, but people still sale big. Adele’s 21 has sold 26 million worldwide. That’s more than Yeezy’s entire catalog. Stars are still big. I think people with a hip hop bias are dramatically overstating his importance and mindshare.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      Yeah, I think you’re overstating a bit. His albums are “events” in a sense, but nowhere near MJ. Or even GnR.

      Sh*t, Lil Wayne still sells more than he does.

      • Asiyah

        yeah we’re still talking about Chinese Democracy here and it’s been almost 20 years