Panama: so i know a lot of women who absolutely love kanye west and i can honestly say i dont get it. like i cant tell if they want to be with him? or if his swag is attractive to them or what…

kanye being an attractive human being is an oddity to me

Champ: i think they like what he produces and what he’s capable of producing more than anything else
the art more than the artist
i mean, i guess that explains why guys like paul mccartney and lyle lovett have had their pick of beautiful women
the idea of kanye matters more than he does
well, not more, but just as much
women love big ideas and potential more than they love us, lol
and kanye is a big f*cking idea
Panama: that is true
Champ: but yeah, you’re right. he’s a sex symbol who women don’t seem to want to have sex with
its weird. i’ve never believed any of the “kanye’s gay” rumors, but i have a hard time believing he was sleeping with amber rose, or anyone for that matter
Panama: good point
Champ: but, he’s also admitted to a porn addiction, and i’ve heard from a few sources that he’s not particularly shy about whipping it out in public, lol
Panama: apparently a lot of guys aren’t
i’ve had chicks tell me numerous times of dudes i know who they’ve been with on some one-on-one hang shit and dude will just pull his shit out
Champ: i knew a guy in college who’d hand women business cards with a pic of him holding his wang
i always wondered who took those pictures for him
Panama: lol

Midway through our latest podcast, I made a completely extemporaneous remark about Kanye West being one of the most important black people in the world; a statement so extemporaneous and unexpected you can hear the shock in my own voice when I said it. This surprise was largely based on the fact that I didn’t believe a single word of what I had just said.

But, because the verbal edit button–a device allowing you to delete reckless things you’ve said before anyone actually hears it–hasn’t been invented yet, I went full speed ahead, citing Kanye’s pandemic effect on our culture as proof of my statement’s truth. Surprisingly, the more I spoke, the more I realized this theory wasn’t that far fetched. Culture–the way we behave, how we interact, and what we believe–f*cking matters. And, regardless of how superficial you consider their particular contributions to be, our living and breathing cultural determinants–our Jay-Zs’, our Kardashians, our Beyonces–f*cking matter too.

Kanye, his brand of unabashed and simultaneously insecure self-confidence, and the art this volatile mixture created, has done more to spearhead this current era of hip-hop androgyny we live in than any other entity. Ironically, this makes him a bit of a throwback. His visceral emoting and occasional bouts of hyper-heterosexual aggression hearken back to the 80’s, when lascivious and sexually ambiguous performers such as Prince, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George ruled the airwaves. I’m not suggesting Kanye is in fact bi or homosexual, but his particular type of emotiveness is unlike any we’ve seen in hip-hop, and by osmosis he’s helped to pave the way to mainstream acceptance and embrace for (among other things) Drake, skinny jeans, Lady Gaga, Rhianna, blazers, Nicky Minaj, eyeglasses, B.O.B., blogging (yes. blogging), Lil Wayne, frohawks, and Twitter.

Despite all of this, I’ve always wondered what exactly it is about Kanye that allows him to wield such a cultural influence. How the hell does this tiny guy from the Chi have so much power? While his persona is (somewhat) original in a hip-hop context, the characteristics contributing to this persona are completely unoriginal. His critically lauded sample-heavy and soulful production is somewhat of a copy of music the RZA was making in 1995. While he’s definitely improving as a rapper, he’ll never be confused for a “natural” like a Nas or even a Scarface. And, by the time “The College Dropout” was released, the emotive eccentricity and eclecticism he’s known for had already been “done” (and, arguably, done better) by Andre 3000. He’s basically an HD compatible betamax.

The insane buzz over his two relatively underwhelming new singles (“Power” and “Hear Me Now”. Although, I have to admit I love “Hear Me Now” and the “Power” remix) have helped me figure it out: It’s not Kanye himself as much as it’s the idea of Kanye–and what we think he’s capable of–that matters so gotdamn much. This explains why each of his albums (even the sucky ones I eventually allowed to grow on me) are cultural landmarks even among those who love hip-hop but hate him and/or his music. This helps me understand how we’ve allowed a man who has made entire albums based around the idea that college is a sham and publicly admitted to not reading books (ha!) to be the de facto musical spokesperson for the young and college educated African-American. This even explains why (many) women are completely infatuated by him despite the fact that they probably wouldn’t sleep with him if given the chance.

With Kanye, it’s not so much about who he is or what he’s accomplished as much as it’s who we want him to be and what he just might do. While he has definitely produced, the power we’ve given him lies in the fact that his otherworldly range of personality makes him potential personified, and this makes him completely unstable and completely impervious to prediction—exactly like culture. He’s a living and breathing cultural cipher for our Id’s and expectations (whatever they might be), and he matters so gotdamn much because we need him to.

—The Champ

***By the way, If you haven’t done so yet, check out “The Black Blog Tea Party“, The Champ’s latest piece at Clutch Magazine***

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.

  • P.

    Regardless of how much of a douchebag I think he is, he gets a free pass in my book solely because the Kanye shrug was one of the greatest things mankind saw this (last? I can never figure this time sh*t out) decade.

    • Honey

      i agree with P. 100%. kanye’s music is great, pure and simple. and he creates most of it completely on his own. i love people who write AND produce their own stuff. not to mention he is actually saying something meaningful…well usually lol. even when he’s not, the things he says are highly entertaining, clever, and quotable. these things, compared with his overall image and outrageousness, make him a star. he will be remembered for a very long time, along with the rest of the greats i think. and rightly so.

      i think his “power” also has a lot to do with the fact that he says things that people feel but don’t have the nerve to say, and this touches people. he’s just very raw, and people feel that. i went to his “glow in the dark” tour a few years ago, and i was amazed not only at the quality of the show but at the number of people (all races, both genders, various ages) who knew every lyric and truly felt those words. it was a beautiful thing. is he the voice of our generation? maybe…i’m not sure if i’d go that far, but you would certainly think so being in that arena.

      p.s. it doesn’t hurt that he has all that respect in the industry. dude has collaborated with everybody who’s anybody, from jay-z to jeezy to justin beiber. his market is ginormous.

      • Honey

        just re-read P.’s comment and realized he was talking about the “kanye shrug” and not kanye’s music….so i take back the whole agreeing 100% thing lol. i was talking about the man’s music and sh!t. geez, i need to go to sleep.

      • Honey

        just re-read P.’s comment and realized he was talking about the “kanye shrug” and not kanye’s music….so i take back the whole agreeing 100% thing lol. i was talking about the man’s music and sh!t. geez, i need to go to sleep.

    • Honey

      i agree with P. 100%. kanye’s music is great, pure and simple. and he creates most of it completely on his own. i love people who write AND produce their own stuff. not to mention he is actually saying something meaningful…well usually lol. even when he’s not, the things he says are highly entertaining, clever, and quotable. these things, compared with his overall image and outrageousness, make him a star. he will be remembered for a very long time, along with the rest of the greats i think. and rightly so.

      i think his “power” also has a lot to do with the fact that he says things that people feel but don’t have the nerve to say, and this touches people. he’s just very raw, and people feel that. i went to his “glow in the dark” tour a few years ago, and i was amazed not only at the quality of the show but at the number of people (all races, both genders, various ages) who knew every lyric and truly felt those words. it was a beautiful thing. is he the voice of our generation? maybe…i’m not sure if i’d go that far, but you would certainly think so being in that arena.

      p.s. it doesn’t hurt that he has all that respect in the industry. dude has collaborated with everybody who’s anybody, from jay-z to jeezy to justin beiber. his market is ginormous.

    • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      Right? I mean, that shrug can be applied to a ton of things. Like, I can’t even shrug anymore without it naming it “Kanye.” In fact, I think I like that.

    • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      Right? I mean, that shrug can be applied to a ton of things. Like, I can’t even shrug anymore without it naming it “Kanye.” In fact, I think I like that.

  • P.

    Regardless of how much of a douchebag I think he is, he gets a free pass in my book solely because the Kanye shrug was one of the greatest things mankind saw this (last? I can never figure this time sh*t out) decade.

  • fixedwater

    All I can say is he doesn’t matter to me

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      that doesn’t matter

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      that doesn’t matter

    • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      LOL, I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone said this. Which…valid.

      Guess that can be said about everyone, though, right?

    • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      LOL, I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone said this. Which…valid.

      Guess that can be said about everyone, though, right?

  • fixedwater

    All I can say is he doesn’t matter to me

  • http://lizburr.com Liz

    Is this a Why I Love Yeezy post? Cuz I’ll go in.

    I don’t really wanna have sex with Yeezy. He doesn’t really do it for me, but I still love him lots. His thirst to want to improve himself and his art is what attracts me most. It inspires you to want to do better for yourself, and it makes you want to root for him too. I’m not into egos but Kanye’s ego is like none other. Besides that, I do like his word play, which is why I used to like Jigga so much (not so much anymore; he’s getting old; literally). I could do without his gaudy tastes in interior design as of late, but he’s def cool in my book. I just hope this new album isn’t wack.

    And I love our podcasts simply because you can’t edit yourself which is great because your obsessive editing drives me nuts. In a nice way, of course.

    • http://twitter.com/naimafiasco TheTalentedMs.Fiasco

      YES! I totally agree. I don’t find him attractive. He actually looks like my brother in law A LOT, so it freaks me out a bit. Anyway, I just think he is extremely adorable. He just seems so genuinely into what he does and he produces some great albums. I am definitely a stan! :-/

      • morningjoi

        Double co-sign! My chicks and I are all big fans of Kanye. Not one of us ever calls him sexy, fine, or drool over the idea of sleeping with him. SImply put: he’s one of the most interesting people in the limelight right now, and – right or wrong – he always goes hard.

      • morningjoi

        Double co-sign! My chicks and I are all big fans of Kanye. Not one of us ever calls him sexy, fine, or drool over the idea of sleeping with him. SImply put: he’s one of the most interesting people in the limelight right now, and – right or wrong – he always goes hard.

      • Sula

        You guys have captured it quite nicely.

        And what The Champ calls the Huge albeit insecure self-confidence definitely rails me in.

        I do heart Kanye a whole bunch. I want to give him kisses and stuff and go sit in the park with him while he shares his vision with me and sh!t… :)

        • http://www.thepowermixer.com bizchick

          omagawd. I caught a tear sharing this vision of him sharing his vision with you. ’cause I totes feel like that ma damn self, lol. it’s sick really how much I adore him.

        • http://www.thepowermixer.com bizchick

          omagawd. I caught a tear sharing this vision of him sharing his vision with you. ’cause I totes feel like that ma damn self, lol. it’s sick really how much I adore him.

      • Sula

        You guys have captured it quite nicely.

        And what The Champ calls the Huge albeit insecure self-confidence definitely rails me in.

        I do heart Kanye a whole bunch. I want to give him kisses and stuff and go sit in the park with him while he shares his vision with me and sh!t… :)

    • http://twitter.com/naimafiasco TheTalentedMs.Fiasco

      YES! I totally agree. I don’t find him attractive. He actually looks like my brother in law A LOT, so it freaks me out a bit. Anyway, I just think he is extremely adorable. He just seems so genuinely into what he does and he produces some great albums. I am definitely a stan! :-/

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      I don’t really wanna have sex with Yeezy

      thanks for making that clear, liz

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      I don’t really wanna have sex with Yeezy

      thanks for making that clear, liz

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      His thirst to want to improve himself and his art is what attracts me most. It inspires you to want to do better for yourself, and it makes you want to root for him too.

      kanye actually inspires you to be a bigger, better, and greater person? i think this is the first time i’ve heard anybody say that kanye inspires them to be better.

      • Sula

        You need to hang out with different people. :)

      • Sula

        You need to hang out with different people. :)

      • http://lizburr.com Liz

        yeah what Sula said. When Kanye was his hungriest?? Back during college dropout days? do u not know the story behind through the wire? lol. He’s always been thirsty, aspirational. today hasn’t changed, its just from a different angle. some see it as all ego but part of his ego thing is that nobody else is better than him, so he has to constantly be better than himself. before then, it was that he was so great, but people slept on him…but he’d show them one day.

      • http://lizburr.com Liz

        yeah what Sula said. When Kanye was his hungriest?? Back during college dropout days? do u not know the story behind through the wire? lol. He’s always been thirsty, aspirational. today hasn’t changed, its just from a different angle. some see it as all ego but part of his ego thing is that nobody else is better than him, so he has to constantly be better than himself. before then, it was that he was so great, but people slept on him…but he’d show them one day.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      His thirst to want to improve himself and his art is what attracts me most. It inspires you to want to do better for yourself, and it makes you want to root for him too.

      kanye actually inspires you to be a bigger, better, and greater person? i think this is the first time i’ve heard anybody say that kanye inspires them to be better.

  • http://lizburr.com Liz

    Is this a Why I Love Yeezy post? Cuz I’ll go in.

    I don’t really wanna have sex with Yeezy. He doesn’t really do it for me, but I still love him lots. His thirst to want to improve himself and his art is what attracts me most. It inspires you to want to do better for yourself, and it makes you want to root for him too. I’m not into egos but Kanye’s ego is like none other. Besides that, I do like his word play, which is why I used to like Jigga so much (not so much anymore; he’s getting old; literally). I could do without his gaudy tastes in interior design as of late, but he’s def cool in my book. I just hope this new album isn’t wack.

    And I love our podcasts simply because you can’t edit yourself which is great because your obsessive editing drives me nuts. In a nice way, of course.

  • http://awordorthree.com Crystal Marie

    Maybe if I start talking about important I am and golden goblets, I too can convince others that I matter. O_o

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      or you can just join the illuminati. that always seems to help

      • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

        Or the VSBluminati. Where e-celebs reign and sh*t. o_O

      • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

        Or the VSBluminati. Where e-celebs reign and sh*t. o_O

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      or you can just join the illuminati. that always seems to help

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      it worked for lil wayne. nobody ever considered him as the “best rapper alive” until he started saying it with every other line on the first Carter album. next thing you know, folks started saying, “hey, is lil wayne the best rapper alive?”

      if you say something enough, people will start to wonder if its true…then people will start to believe it.

      it’s why i’ve been calling myself sexxy for the last decade. visualization breeds actualization. or some such freudian f*ckery.

      • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

        “it’s why i’ve been calling myself sexxy for the last decade. visualization breeds actualization. or some such freudian f*ckery.”

        Mmmhmm. The 3 thing, though? That’s true.

      • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

        “it’s why i’ve been calling myself sexxy for the last decade. visualization breeds actualization. or some such freudian f*ckery.”

        Mmmhmm. The 3 thing, though? That’s true.

      • V Renee

        it worked for lil wayne. nobody ever considered him as the “best rapper alive” .

        Actually I’ve been saying it since “Lights Out”. What can I say, I’ve always been a fan. *Kanye Shrug*

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          Actually I’ve been saying it since “Lights Out”. What can I say, I’ve always been a fan. *Kanye Shrug*

          wow. you’ve been wrong for a long time

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

          Actually I’ve been saying it since “Lights Out”. What can I say, I’ve always been a fan. *Kanye Shrug*

          wow. you’ve been wrong for a long time

      • V Renee

        it worked for lil wayne. nobody ever considered him as the “best rapper alive” .

        Actually I’ve been saying it since “Lights Out”. What can I say, I’ve always been a fan. *Kanye Shrug*

      • http://awordorthree.com Crystal Marie

        This last line is begging me to say something extremely rude. But I’ll refrain, bc you’re nice in person.

      • http://awordorthree.com Crystal Marie

        This last line is begging me to say something extremely rude. But I’ll refrain, bc you’re nice in person.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      it worked for lil wayne. nobody ever considered him as the “best rapper alive” until he started saying it with every other line on the first Carter album. next thing you know, folks started saying, “hey, is lil wayne the best rapper alive?”

      if you say something enough, people will start to wonder if its true…then people will start to believe it.

      it’s why i’ve been calling myself sexxy for the last decade. visualization breeds actualization. or some such freudian f*ckery.

  • http://awordorthree.com Crystal Marie

    Maybe if I start talking about important I am and golden goblets, I too can convince others that I matter. O_o

  • Andi

    Aww I love the podcast :D I found that comment a touch out of left field as well, but you did a good job defending it.

    While I don’t think Kanye is the cultural maven he thinks he is (voice of my generation…. really?) I do think he paved the way for this new breed of emo hiphop where we talk about out feelings. Feelings beyond lust and pissed offedness anyway. Now we have Drake talking about how he loves the fame, but he hates the fame, but he’s soooooo over it, and Wale kvitching about how girls in high school wouldn’t talk to him, and BOB who is a ghost in a machine and you can’t see past his shades. Don’t look at me!!! …Sorry just had an emo moment. Anyway, I do think Kanye has fashioned a new school of hip hop, but cultural icon? We’ll see….

    • Andi

      You know what’s interesting? I feel like more people would give Kanye the musician his deserved props if Kanye the personality wasn’t such a douchebag. It’s hard to like someone who clearly doesn’t give a rat’s hind parts whether you support them or not…

    • Andi

      You know what’s interesting? I feel like more people would give Kanye the musician his deserved props if Kanye the personality wasn’t such a douchebag. It’s hard to like someone who clearly doesn’t give a rat’s hind parts whether you support them or not…

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      While I don’t think Kanye is the cultural maven he thinks he is (voice of my generation…. really?) I do think he paved the way for this new breed of emo hiphop where we talk about out feelings

      that’s the thing, if you’ve managed to alter a pretty widespread culture (hip-hop) you are a cultural maven (even if your effect might have been accidental)

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      While I don’t think Kanye is the cultural maven he thinks he is (voice of my generation…. really?) I do think he paved the way for this new breed of emo hiphop where we talk about out feelings

      that’s the thing, if you’ve managed to alter a pretty widespread culture (hip-hop) you are a cultural maven (even if your effect might have been accidental)

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      douchebag though he may be, kanye is definitely a cultural icon. right now, he and lady gaga are probably the most significant measures of where hiphop and pop music are. kanye, lil wayne, gaga, beyonce and to a lesser extent rihanna and jay are all the people folks are paying attention to and we’ll be referencing 20 years from now about this era. what they do inspires other people to do sh*t.

      heck, bc of kanye, i’ve been trying to date a racially amibiguous bald headed light skint woman. and i hate mannequins.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      douchebag though he may be, kanye is definitely a cultural icon. right now, he and lady gaga are probably the most significant measures of where hiphop and pop music are. kanye, lil wayne, gaga, beyonce and to a lesser extent rihanna and jay are all the people folks are paying attention to and we’ll be referencing 20 years from now about this era. what they do inspires other people to do sh*t.

      heck, bc of kanye, i’ve been trying to date a racially amibiguous bald headed light skint woman. and i hate mannequins.

    • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      “I found that comment a touch out of left field as well, but you did a good job defending it.”

      Right, I mean from what Champ has said…it makes sense. But, I still think he’s just as funny unedited as edited, which is no easy feat. Panama, I can’t compare because that ninja is always unedited. Consistent self.

      “While I don’t think Kanye is the cultural maven he thinks he is (voice of my generation…. really?) ”

      LOL, yeah see, we’ll never compliment Kanye better than he compliments himself. We can say he was the best thing in the history of the word “best”, and he’ll still be all, “Um…I’m better than that, peasant.”

    • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      “I found that comment a touch out of left field as well, but you did a good job defending it.”

      Right, I mean from what Champ has said…it makes sense. But, I still think he’s just as funny unedited as edited, which is no easy feat. Panama, I can’t compare because that ninja is always unedited. Consistent self.

      “While I don’t think Kanye is the cultural maven he thinks he is (voice of my generation…. really?) ”

      LOL, yeah see, we’ll never compliment Kanye better than he compliments himself. We can say he was the best thing in the history of the word “best”, and he’ll still be all, “Um…I’m better than that, peasant.”

  • Andi

    Aww I love the podcast :D I found that comment a touch out of left field as well, but you did a good job defending it.

    While I don’t think Kanye is the cultural maven he thinks he is (voice of my generation…. really?) I do think he paved the way for this new breed of emo hiphop where we talk about out feelings. Feelings beyond lust and pissed offedness anyway. Now we have Drake talking about how he loves the fame, but he hates the fame, but he’s soooooo over it, and Wale kvitching about how girls in high school wouldn’t talk to him, and BOB who is a ghost in a machine and you can’t see past his shades. Don’t look at me!!! …Sorry just had an emo moment. Anyway, I do think Kanye has fashioned a new school of hip hop, but cultural icon? We’ll see….

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