Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
10

Kanye West: Diva, Annoyance, Genius, Producer of Kid Cudi

Kanye West is the biggest diva hip-hop has ever known. Arrogant, petulant, obsessed with self-image, he's thrown tantrums at award shows, kept fans waiting hours for concerts and smashed cameras in rage. Lots of people don't like him. He knows this. The "international asshole," he's called himself, and has often detailed his faults in song, while rarely sounding anything but proud of himself. And, hip-hop owes him a huge thank you.

Because over the past few years, with business tanking and much of the music stagnating stylistically, he has brought avant garde experimentation and unabashed artistry to the forefront of a field that has so often sneered at anything even hinting at highbrow.

Check the colors in the video for "Make Her Say" (above), a song Kanye produced for his protege, Cleveland's Kid Cudi. Check the beat-and the main sample, a chilly bit of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," AKA that song that you cannot get away from. And the rhymes, so soft-voiced and melodic (Kanye raps in it too, as does his longtime Chicago cohort, Common.) The aesthetic is more cosmopolitan, European even, and, yes, feminine, way more than hip-hop usually allows itself to get-all, of course, while detailing the joys of getting a blowjob.

10 Comments / Post A Comment

olmucky (#542)

I liked it equally little when it was a song from "Room For Squares."

"avant garde experimentation and unabashed artistry to the forefront of a field that has so often sneered at anything even hinting at highbrow."

I don't think you know what you're saying. It can only be experimentation and artistry if you call it highbrow? Or allow it to be called highbrow? Or it has to reach people as square and highbrow as you to be considered experimental and a artistic? Anyway, if you think hip hop has avoided experimentation and artistry, don't write about hip hop anymore.

olmucky (#542)

"avant garde experimentation and unabashed artistry to the forefront of a field that has so often sneered at anything even hinting at highbrow."

I don't think you know what you're saying. It can only be experimentation and artistry if you call it highbrow? Or allow it to be called highbrow? Or it has to reach people as square and highbrow as you to be considered experimental and a artistic? Anyway, if you think hip hop has avoided experimentation and artistry, don't write about hip hop anymore.

Dave Bry (#422)

That was so nice, you said it twice!
Olmucky, I love hip-hop. But I do think the form, at least that of it that reaches a wide audience, has for too long hurt itself by shunning experimentation in favor of a stick-to-what-we-know keep-it-real attitude. An attitude that questions the value of, say, Andre from OutKast because he starts dressing differently and drinking tea. But don't get me wrong, I love the keep-it-real stuff, too. Gangsta rap is probably my favorite kind. But lots of rap, like lots of all types of music, suffers from a herd-mentality sameness problem. And its good when someone like Kanye (or OutKast before him, though in a way that seemed less paradigm-shifting) can make trying new stuff cool. That's all I'm saying.

olmucky (#542)

Yeah, sorry about the server problems.

"I do think the form, at least that of it that reaches a wide audience, has for too long hurt itself by shunning experimentation in favor of a stick-to-what-we-know keep-it-real attitude." — What qualifies as mainstream hip hop has often shunned experimentation in favor of microwave music. Yes.

"An attitude that questions the value of, say, Andre from OutKast because he starts dressing differently and drinking tea." — Well, whatever, we're talking music, not fashion.

"But don’t get me wrong, I love the keep-it-real stuff, too. Gangsta rap is probably my favorite kind." — I think you're implying that gangsta rap cannot be avant garde or experimental? That's just foolish, from almost every verse Ghostface has ever written to the origins of gangster rap which include three white guys releasing "Licensed to Ill."

It has always been cool to try new stuff in hip hop. But it's only cool if the new stuff is good. And that Kanye produced bit, although I like some of Cudi's other stuff, is John Mayer music.

This is experimental and contemporary and weird and more interesting than that Kanye: http://hiphopisread.blogspot.com/2009/07/video-spree-wilson-word.html

Hez (#147)

Pfft. I personally love that I can come to one site and find commentary about politics, pop culture, gardening, uncontrollable crying jags, AND PILES OF NEATLY FOLDED SWEATERS (still waiting for my update on those, Choire!). Opinions/assholes, blah blah blah, so write about hip hop all you fucking want, Bry (and don't apologize). Especially if you keep posting dope jams like this. My personal bowl of cornflakes remains refreshingly piss-free.

rj77 (#210)

'Medulla oblongata' is not used in hip-hop enough.

monkeyajb (#524)

Who is this "Dave Bry" and why isn't Cho blogging the 'Ye stuff?

FeyBoohoozer (#410)

I like hip hop alot so thanks for that Dave, but I still prefer getting my blowjobs in silence.

fek (#93)

Did Yeezey just rhyme "medulla oblongata" because that is AMAZING, yes, he did, wow. I like this. Also impressive: turning Lady Gaga into a lesser Regina Spektor. Nice.

curbjob (#788)

You know, olmucky, you almost sounded like you knew what you were talking about, until you said something about the origins of gangsta rap include the beastie boys?

pft.

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