After making a few jump shots in a row, occasionally Lebron James will race down court the next time he gets the ball and shoot an uncontested 35 to 40 footer with 20 seconds left on the shot clock (watch from 0:29 to 0:59 here for an example). For those not familiar with basketball, doing this is the equivalent of approaching your manager to ask for a raise and your own parking spot, receiving both, and then approaching him later that day to ask for a blow job.
In basketball terminology this is known as a “heat check.” Basically, you’re doing something seemingly outrageous to test the limits of how far your “hot” streak will go.
This idea isn’t limited to basketball. Pop culture is filled with popular artists heat-checking themselves, and Erykah Badu’s Window Seat vid is another example of that.
While many have lauded this as ultra-creative, paradigm shifting, envelope pushing, and iconoclastic, personally, I just think it’s her way of saying “I’m Erykah f*cking Badu. I have millions of die-hard fans, I single-handedly made a jersey-rocking rapper from Atlanta start dressing like a drag-queen mannequin at an H&M fashion show, and I have a fat ass. I’m bored, I can do whatever the hell I want, and my fans will still love me. Creative schmeative“
I wrote this three years ago, as the beginning to a post about Erykah Badu’s Window Seat video. Aside from adding my own interpretation of Badu’s motives for creating this video, I somewhat condescendingly imply that her diehard fans are incapable of being objective when assessing her work.
I felt the same way while attending an event at the Andy Warhol Museum last weekend. That Warhol was a visionary deserving of all lauds and accolades is undeniable. But, the visit just reinforced the fact that when certain people reach a certain stature, anything they do is accepted as genius, including some things that garner “Wows” when they should be receiving a chorus of “WTFs.”
I guess you can argue that status is earned. If a newly found, ketchup-stained napkin with Warhol’s signature on it is able to command 1.6 million dollars at an auction, this says more about the transcendent force of Warhol’s talent that anything else. His resume allows him to receive the benefit of the doubt.
But, the person actually making that purchase allows himself to be gamed by a person’s name instead of making an honest assessment of the actual product. And, not only are they lying to themselves, they perform the worst type of self-delusion—one where a person is completely aware of the lie they’re telling themselves, but they’re completely sold on selling it to themselves anyway. They’ve fully bought in to the bullshit, and when you buy bullshit that you literally saw drop out of a cow’s ass, you have no integrity. You make yourself a slave to a person instead of what that person creates and/or what they represent.
Anyway, I downloaded Kanye West’s Yeezus Friday, and have listened to it approximately 10 times since. It is an incoherent, jumbled, rhythm-adverse, pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, racist, and misogynistic mess. It may very well be the first major label hip-hop album that caused listeners actual physical pain while listening to it.
I’m also in love with it.
The irony isn’t lost on me.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)