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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Wednesday
Dec082010

« In Which She Meets Her Maker »

Me And Mr. West

by ALMIE ROSE

She finds pictures in my email/I sent this girl a picture of my dick/I don’t know what it is with females/but I’m not too good at that shit.

Kanye West has become an ingenious parody of himself. He is bigger than Kanye West. And this thrills me. I’ve never seen someone embrace their own legend the way Kanye has. Keith Richards, in a drunken mishap, get hits in the head with a coconut, then denies it. He says he snorted his father’s ashes, then denies that too. But Kanye continually interrupts award shows (“If I don’t win, this award show loses” from the EMA’s in 2007) and then parodies it on SNL. I hate even mentioning the infamous Swiftgate because I am disappointed that he apologized for it as many times as he did. I understand why he apologized but he shouldn’t have. Because he’s Kanye. Kanye is known for his love of all things designer, and “LOLs” to tweets on twitter poking fun of his Louis Vuitton obsessions. Because he’s Kanye. Yet even though he seems like one of us, he is in his own world. He claims to not own a cell phone. How does someone so famous and so connected not have a cell phone? Because he’s Kanye.

Kanye Omari West came from a middle-class background in Atlanta, Georgia. At age three his parents divorced, and he moved with his mom to Chicago. His mom, Dr. Donda West, was the former chairwoman of Chicago State University’s English department. Kanye was closest with his mom who unexpectedly died in 2007 after complications from cosmetic surgery. Jay Leno shamefully used Kanye’s love for his mother as leverage against him when he asked Kanye on his show, “How would your mom feel about what you did [to Taylor Swift]?”

In an interview with Rolling Stone in ’06, His dad, Ray West, sociology professor and former Black Panther Activist, criticized his son’s lyrics: “Fine, you're trying to get some street acceptance. Now that you got that, get back to your roots. You know that's not where you came from. You know that's not how you were raised.” During high school, Kanye worked at The Gap. (Imagined interaction: “Yo, why don’t you like these khakis? I was in the back room for hours looking for your size in these khakis!”) He attended college but left after one year to pursue a career in the music industry. And that was it. Boom.

Though Kanye says that when it comes to women he’s “not too good at that shit” he seems to do all right. He was in a long term relationship (about a year) with MTV assistant Brooke Crittendon that must have ended in around ’06. Not long after he became engaged to Alexis Phifer, a designer, over a lobster dinner in Capri. A year and a half later they were over. Kanye’s next serious relationship (depending on how you define serious) was with Amber Rose (so close to Almie Rose, Kanye, so close) who may or may not be a real person.

I’m not saying anything bad about her, I’m just not sure what she does or who she is or if she exists or if she is just some wonderful art project Kanye created. She may or may not be CGI. She may or may not be a hologram similar to the ones the Scooby Doo gang chased after in haunted mansions before finding the bad guys behind a curtain with a projector. I don’t know.

If everyone were like Kanye all the time, shit would get difficult, but if we can release our inner Kanye when we really need it, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. When I need confidence I used to think, “What would Faye Dunaway do?” Now I think, “What would Kanye do?” because if I need an answer, I usually find it on his twitter. It’s like how when Christians feel lost they open and point to a random page in the Bible and see what word they hit and find an answer in that.

To those who find this comparison ludicrous or ridiculous, insert Kanye shrug here. Faye Dunaway should really have a twitter. I’m sure it would contain illuminating updates like, “I don’t think today’s young actresses are worth a damn” and “When I worked with Steve McQueen I felt alive” and “I can’t talk about Jack Nicholson right now.”

What I love about Kanye’s lyrics are his open love of himself but also his ability to surprise. Kanye has a habit of rapping about one thing and then two lines later he’s rapping about something completely different and you’re like, “Wait, what” or delivers references that are hilarious in their randomness. In “All of the Lights” (from “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”) he raps “We met at Borders.” In “Run This Town” he laments the downsides of his own fame, then suddenly talks about a girl who “got a ass that’ll swallow up a g-string” and then apropos of nothing says, “Reebok, baby, you need to drop some new things/have you ever had shoes without shoe strings?” In “Gorgeous”, also from his new album, he references Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock and American Apparel tights.

I can relate more to Kanye’s songs than anything Gaga, Ke$ha or Taylor Swift puts out, and I’m part of their demographic. (Maybe not Swift’s. I’m still not sure who makes up Swift’s demographic.) Of course those references do not make up the depths or the meanings of his songs. I realize that some of his experiences and struggles I cannot and will never relate to. But some of his tracks are universal. Like “Heartless.”

Some other highlights of Kanye’s, in their original form:

“YOOOO WHY WON'T YOU LET ME BE GREAT!!!   I HAD THE TWO GREATEST DAYS OF MY LIFE AND WHEN I GET BACK FROM THE LOUIE SHOW I READ SOME SHIT CLAIMING I SAID I'M DOWN TO DO PORN AND SOME BISEXUAL PORN!!!!”

 "SHE IS VERY TALENTED! I LIKE THE LYRICS ABOUT BEING A CHEERLEADER AND SHE'S IN THE BLEACHERS! ........................ "

 "This is the most offended I've ever been... this is the maddest I ever will be. I'm typing so fucking hard I might break my fucking Mac book Air!!!!!!!!"

"I hate when I’m on a flight and I wake up with a water bottle and next to me like oh great now I gotta be responsible for this water bottle." Tell me you can’t hear this in Larry David’s voice.

(on his favorite Grammy performance): “I liked when Train did ‘Drops of Jupiter.’ That was the first time I’d heard that song and I was like, ‘Oh shit, this is great!’ The performance was that good.”

If you hate Kanye West, then there’s nothing I can say that’s going to make you change your mind. He’s just one of those celebrities that you either hate or love. But I will suggest that you listen to his music. It’s possible to love the music without joining the church of Kanye.

Almie Rose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She blogs here and twitters here.

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Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it/I guess every superhero need his theme music. 

Kanye West: A-

 

Reader Comments (7)

i hate kanye west.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterderby

I think this is one of my favorite This Recordings ever. This is exactly how I feel about Kanye, explained perfectly.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersmut-to-go.tumblr.com

Naw, he's not one of those celebrities you either love or hate. I just kind of like him now. I used to love the dude's music. But then he went through a period of music I deemed, "this shit is just repetitive". But now with Fantasy he's doing something a little better, artistically. But, I mean, the lyrics to "Monster"... his verse is sorry. But so is Jays, with Nicki clearly merc'ing that track, but that is what I mean. There's no reason why Ye should not know, you feel me, *know* he needed to step his verse up, even before he heard Nicki's (you see that ass in the Monster trailer? Ridiculous. It was both hot as hell and very sorrowful, because she feels she has to do that for some reason... I dunno). But what other rap artist is doing short films like that? Being an artist, period. Not just a rapper. I dig that, because I can relate to it. My ultimate goal is to make an album, make a short film, make a feature length, write a novel, write a novella, a book of poetry, all viewing the same subject from various artistic perspectives. Been at it since like, '08. Trying to make that shit my life's work. Word up Ye.

And I laughed at the Amber Rose CGI thing. You right. She's fine too. But, I dunno, she's all Jerry Bruck'd out.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J.

I can't find that quote he has about spending all your time trying to become invincible and larger than yourself and then spending the rest of your time trying to convince people you're a regular dude

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

I like his music. I love his public persona- it's great for the lols

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersally

I love Kanye.

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurene

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