BY SOUHAIL SIDDIQI
Kanye Omari West is a prominent American rapper, artist, fashion designer and entrepreneur. West began his career as a producer, most notably producing for rapper, Jay Z’s, album, The Blueprint. It was after the album’s release when Kanye decided that he wanted to make a name for himself by becoming a rapper. The rest is history.
To say that he’s been successful is an understatement. West has been nominated for 57 Grammy awards and won 21 of them, as well as several BET hip hop, MTV, and Billboard music awards. He has sold over 32 million albums and celebrates over 100 million song downloads. West is famous for countless hit songs, including “Jesus Walks”, “Gold Digger”, “Stronger”, “Heartless”, “Power”, and “Ultralight Beam” just to name a few. He has also contributed on a number of songs with artists like Chance the Rapper, Bon Iver, and Big Sean. As of October of 2016, after releasing his latest YEEZY clothing line and most recent album, Kanye has amassed a net worth of 145 million dollars. In addition to this, his marriage to fellow icon Kim Kardashian in May of 2014 instantly turned them into one of Hollywood’s premier power couples.
Despite all of this success, West has constantly found himself in hot water as a result of his outspoken views after a great number of controversial incidents. For example, in 2009, West interrupted singer Taylor Swift in the middle of her acceptance speech for “Best Music Video” at the VMAs, abrasively proclaiming that Beyonce should’ve won instead. After such behavior, it might be easy for someone to misjudge Kanye as a talentless egotistical maniac, but this is simply not true.
In the past, West has compared himself to Steve Jobs, Pablo Picasso, and Walt Disney, statements that are frequently subject to mockery because people feel they portray his arrogance. Nonetheless, Kanye West is right when he makes these statements.“Legends” like the ones listed above had their own issues. Steve Jobs was known as someone who was extremely rude and demanding. Picasso carried a gun around and would fire at people he found “dull” while Disney was “anti-Semitic” and a sexist. Like these legends, Kanye has a laundry list of issues. But when you take into consideration the effect of the constant mainstream media attention he unwillingly receives (an issue that Jobs, Picasso, or Disney never dealt with), it’s easy to see why he might get frustrated on certain occasions and lash out. Nobody is perfect and West himself said it best when he once tweeted out that “Everybody makes mistakes. I just make them in public”. This tweet really sums up why he receives so much scrutiny.
Kanye West is more than just an amazing rapper. Francisco Lazo (Sr.), a huge fan, said he “respects Kanye so much because West is never afraid to try something new or go in uncharted territory. He’s such an innovative and creative musician”. Lazo makes an important point when referring to Kanye’s courage to try something new on each album West makes, an aspect of his art that was inspected closely in a riveting video by Vox. The video, titled “Kanye deconstructed: The human voice as an instrument”, studies Kanye’s progression as an artist, describing how his producing skills and perfectionism is comparable to that of a conductor of an orchestra. The video also points out how the use of the human voice as an instrument can be seen in many of the rapper’s songs. This is apparent in his debut album, The College Dropout, with his song “Jesus Walks” and recently with “Wolves” from his album, The Life of Pablo. His evolution, not just as a rapper but an artist as well, is a trait he shares with other successful people who strove for greatness.
Another aspect of Kanye’s greatness is his untamed confidence, something that many of his haters characterize as arrogance. As mentioned in Time magazine, Kanye “doesn’t believe in false modesty,” and has no reason to do so. This attitude is evident in his music and his persona, and resonates with his fans. When he speaks in an interview or in front of a crowd, critics tend to ignore his speech instead of acknowledging the transcending wisdom that he provides. His comments discuss topics that vary from people’s self esteem to the media and always contain an incredible amount of truth and substance. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Kanye talked exclusively about self esteem, saying that “my mother made me believe in myself. No matter how many people told me to stop believing in myself, I refuse to follow the rules that society has set up to control people with low self esteem”. In addition to this, his tenacity is unmatched, an attribute of his that was demonstrated back in 2004 when West released his first single “Through the Wire” with his jaw wired shut after a near fatal car accident. This perseverance is one of the many things that has got him to where he is today.
Kanye West is one of the greatest artists of our generation. His legion of loyal fans and impressive list of awards and accolades speaks for itself. But his greatness goes beyond that. His style of self expression is beyond transcending; rather, it is a form of art that gives people hope and confidence in themselves. His music has made our world a better place and it is unfair to misjudge him based off what certain biased media outlets may say.