Should we boycott Kanye West?

… or get him the help he needs?

Letting him be would be a third option… if he kept to himself.

Here’s the thing:

Kanye is either dangerously immature and ignorant, or he is genuinely mentally challenged1. There is no evidence to the contrary. There is constant evidence in support. You can check what he does and/or what he says.

  • Go ahead and read his tweets. (You’ll have to search for saved copies. Kanye deleted all of his own tweets.)
  • Consider his choices.
  • Do a search for “Kayne quotes”.
  • Watch an interview with him.
  • Examine the depth of his lyrics. How many total words per song, how many unique words per song, how many misspelled words per song, how many vulgar words per song.
  • You can examine the message of any Kanye song. (Hint: it is going to be shallow, tired, and vulgar.)

As my former students can attest, I have been saying this for years. I am glad that he is alive… but I do not understand how he has sold a single album2.

I feel for the guy. But I really wish he would keep his immaturity and ignorance to himself. Or get help for his mental disablitity.

Here are some things I hear supporting Kanye. Followed by the problems with those arguments.

  • “He is a musical genius.” Impossible. He does not play an instrument (or even sing), much less has he mastered an instrument.
  • “His albums are like, the best-produced albums.” You must not listen to a lot of music. All modern albums are well-produced. Including Nickleback (who are less of a joke than Kanye.)
  • “He is a total innovator.” Which aspets of his music are innovative? The re-sampled loops from other artists, or the shockingly stupid lyrics?
  • “He is the American Mozart.” Such things could only be said by someone who has never heard Mozart’s music and/or has very little knowledge of music. Kanye is to Mozart as kicking a bucket down some stairs is to classical music. If you have never heard classical music, and knew nothing of music, you might think that the sound of the bucket on the stairs was “genius”. (It’s not.)

Update: I changed the title. I am not angry at Kanye, I just don’t want us to throw our money at him or worship him.

Update: Someone else has written about this already. Plus, Kanye has been called dumb by many people. Including the President.

_____________

1. Kanye himself says he “has a little baby Tourettes“. Which is an insult to those with Tourettes. Much like his new song is an insult to people with Parkinson’s.

2. I feel the same about Lil’ Wayne: I am glad he is alive. But how/why has he sold a single album? I chalk their successes up to The Emperor’s New Clothes effect. Which is real and pervasive and powerful.

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5 comments

  1. Of all the fish to fry… Your arguments:

    1) Kanye is crazy and makes bad choices. So do a majority of celebrities, however Kanye is extremely public about it. You evidently like Ozzy. Explain how Kanye is worse than Ozzy was in his heyday. Kanye says distasteful things… Ozzy literally dipped his testicles in an exec’s wine glass after doing a naked Nazi march down the table. Imagine if Ozzy had twitter… my god. If you base all of your musical choices on character of the artist, I don’t think you’ll have a very large library.

    2) No depth. Disagree. Example – song New Slaves. Basically explaining black culture’s transition from human enslavement to enslavement to materialism. Maybe not the greatest, but at least it’s not crying about some female like the majority of songs these days.

    3) No musicality. You can’t classify musicality as just being able to sing or play an instrument anymore. (Daft Punk??) He raps. Rap is music, despite how much you do or don’t enjoy it. (I would suggest looking into PNW talent Blue Scholars, who discuss more in depth issues than most rock artists.) Yes there is autotune. But, in my opinion, it’s done in a way that is obvious and isn’t trying to disguise anything from the listener (like say RHCP).

    4) Vulgar. Yep. Too vulgar? Probably. Your beliefs, your opinion.

    I agree there are a ton of horrible rap artists that only talk about popping champagne in the club, but Kanye isn’t really one of them. It seems odd you would choose the guy that actually does have some talent. I’m not a huge rap guy but I thought his last album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was pretty damn good. Rolling Stone, not that they’re the authority, agreed with a 5/5. This just feels like the old generation not understanding the new generation. Damn kids and their Rock & Roll!

    I can’t believe I just spent this much time justifying Kanye. Just seemed weird. Kanye says stupid things. You like Apple, who works their outsourced workers into the ground and pays them nothing, and you think Kanye is who should be boycotted?

    1. Steve, Thank you so much for commenting. I appreciate it. I agree with your opening: “Of all the fish to fry…” I am not angry at Kanye and my title did not convey my intention accurately. I have changed the title. On to your points:

      1. I don’t mind wild behavior, ala Ozzy. But Kanye doesn’t do that. Kanye does and says really, really *dumb* things: from his award show antics to bragging that he doesn’t read. He does not act wild, he acts mentally challenged. We should not support ignorance and immaturity, much less worship it.

      2. Yes. The message of “New Slaves” is sharp and the wordplay is good. But, for me, Kanye ruins it with nonsense like: horrible grammar, the ever-present N-word (I have heard some people credit Kanye with breaking rap out of gangsta rap; maybe, but why retain the degrading, tired N-word?), and the out-of-nowhere sex. He is railing against private prisons, and concludes by saying he will cum on a rich lady’s blouse. What?

      3. That’s a tough one for me. If you cannot sing or play an instrument, are you musical? Maybe, like you suggest, musical electronics can be considered instruments. Can you be musical without knowing music theory? Maybe. Maybe Kanye does know music theory??

      4. Yes. Vulgarity weakens the credibility of any argument… which, for me, points back to: maybe Kanye is ignorant and immature. Many other pop musicians have called Kanye dumb. If he were smarter, could he make his points and affect change better? Without vulgarity? I suppose he is an artist, not an activist. Artists point things out. More to your point: Kanye’s albums do get great reviews. And he has won 21 Grammys. But something seems fishy to me. There is no way that Kanye deserves more awards than, say, David Foster. However, the only sane conclusion is that Kanye’s music is good. Maybe really good.

      What Kanye songs would you recommend to someone who hasn’t found a Kanye song that does anything for them?

  2. The Tourette’s may be why he acted out the way he did at the CMA (?) with Taylor Swift… When you view photographs, there is usually an a) angry, or b) confused look on his face. I believe you are right and he does need help (possibly un-bonded, too); whatever, good luck Kim K….

  3. I saw Kanye open up for ye ol’ U2 in Portland back in 2006, he had a song about his “grandmuva” being bed ridden in a hospital. And it was the worst song i have ever heard. Verbatim live performance lyrics: “Bitch you smokin’ the reefa? I’m not leaving this room, she’s my grandmuva!”

    It didn’t even really rhyme.When it comes to judging music of any kind, (ha, its not hard to make a real rhyme) i don’t judge it; i am one of the most unconditional people i know… Unless we’re talking about Kanye specifically, that is the only condition. Yes that sounds like I am entitled, entitled to my opinion for sure. But the argument stops here, Kanye sucks, and he really doesn’t deserve anything more than a minimum wage job and some healthcare. In Obama’s own words “he’s just a jackass.”

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