Post with 21 notes
I feel as though I am missing something. This Kanye album: it’s fairly good. I’d give a few tracks repeated listens, but I just can’t seem to frame it as this 21st century magnum opus. In order for me to view it as such, I would have to form an instant and strong attachment to the songs and also something somewhere would have to resonate. And deeply. I feel a complete disconnect from West’s creepy, weird, fantasy; I think it’s because I am not a megalomaniacal celebrity who aspires to be the second coming of the King of Pop. I have no point of reference. Better yet, I do not wish to have one. I am not even sure Yeezy wants me to connect. This is his fantasy, after all. He’s running the show. I am just privileged to witness the results of his mad ambition.
Like Ewing (who really nailed it, by the way), I rather enjoyed 808s and Heartbreak as a reflection of West’ mourning for a lost love and a departed mother. It was icy, barren, desolate. A hollowed-out, detached inhuman voice calling out of nowhere for someone, anyone, to not only listen but to try to understand. The album asked for my empathy and I did not hesitate to try and see how this man who had lost his only ties to normalcy and now was set adrift to face the flashing, glaring lights of fame alone might feel. My mother died when I was young and confused. In some small way, I could relate.
Those early stages of mourning, denial and anger, are both equally represented on 808s. The anger and hurt funnelled through autotune as if to deny that these were Kanye’s actual feelings. He offers himself a comfortable distance from the actual pain by expressing himself in a way that people did not normally associate with him: by singing. Yes, West wallowed in self-pity. Yes, he had grandiose ideas about his Art and how his own personal reflections were somehow important to us all. But considering how he reached a new pinnacle of celebrity while his world fell apart, I could forgive him most of it. Especially since 808s spawned some outstanding tracks: “Paranoid,” “Street Lights”, “Coldest Winter.”
Now, we have My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy. The use of the pronoun already putting the audience at a remove. From what I can gather, the album is Kanye’s demented, self-indulgent view of the pitfalls of celebrity writ large and fleshed out in all the nauseatingly rich color and florid detail of a rococo painting. It’s ambitious. It’s brimming with imagination, innovation, and a helluva lot of ego. And this is all great and commendable. But is it interesting? No. Not to me.
Beneath the bravado and the confidence of this epic work is a rather vulnerable unhinged and misguided man-child. A perfectionist, a people-pleaser, a coddled mama’s boy that has yet to reconcile what it all means. Now that’s interesting, but I don’t think that is what Kanye wants us to see. He wants us to see someone who doesn’t give a fuck, who is in complete control, someone who is aware of the bullshit and is tired of it more than anyone. He’s someone who is using his own celebrity to transcend the crass world of fame and fortune that has reared him and ascend straight to the upper echelons of ART. I’m not buying it.
Viewed through the lens of the stages of mourning, MBDTF would represent West’s bargaining stage. A stage in which the normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness is the need to regain control. This meticulously crafted album surely seems the work of a control freak. On “Runaway,” Kanye makes a vain attempt to redeem himself by pushing us away. He’s a douchebag, an asshole, a scumbag. He’s going to make that call before any of us can. And then he’s going to again put us at a far, far distance by asking us to get away as fast as we can. West gives the impression of vulnerability on this track, but really he isn’t letting us see anything that he doesn’t want us to see. It’s a tableaux, a brilliantly ornate facade devoid of any true reality.
I’d rather have what’s real without all the trimmings. I’d rather have The Fantasy, raw and uncut. Or rather cut down to the bone. I want Kanye to really lose his head, to relinquish control to the muses that dance in his brain and get dirty and dangerous. When that happens, I’ll be interested.