The first time I listened to a Kanye album, I was a young teenager and much of what he was rapping about was over my head and out of my experience. I was chasing any dreams, making huge decisions, or overcoming anything in particular but somehow, he music was transcendent. Late Registration, to be exact, changed the way I listened to music from that moment on. I rocked that album until the lyrics were engraved on to the surface of my brain.
Now, 12 years after his first album, Kanye West has evolved into an artist that has a reputation that is, at times, louder than his art. I’ve heard people that have never listened to an entire Kanye album a day in their life saying that he is unnecessarily arrogant and a lunatic. While his actions over the last couple of years has been a wide array of erratic, spontaneous, and often times confusing, I can’t help but defend him in these conversations. I can’t help but reply with the fact that he is literally a musical genius. He is not a run of the mill artist. He isn’t new at this.
I have been thinking about Kanye’s latest rants and I feel like the more I think about it, the more I understand him. The more he makes sense to me. The year I graduated high school, Kanye’s mother died unexpectedly. One of his major catalysts into success was plucked from his life in a moment. To lose a parent is comprable to losing a physical part of yourself. It is like losing an arm. It will never grow back and you will always be without it. Through stumbles and clumsiness, you learn to function, even if barely, without it. I think that is the Kanye we have seen much of. From a fan on the outside looking in, Kanye reminds me a lot of myself in that way. A motherless child in recovery that still has to perform and show up in his everyday life.
In one of Kanye’s recent twitter rants, he talked a lot about chasing your dreams and the sacrifice that is required to do so. While most people rolled their eyes at this because, I mean, he is a celebrity (I admit, I did at first) I felt that message. As a writer, I have to sacrifice in the name of art. I have to give up pieces of myself, open up old wounds to produce art that I believe in. Creation, on the lowest level, requires vulnerability. While Kanye is far from heading to the poor house, I understand that angst of wanting to bring your ideas to life but not having the pieces of the puzzle to do so. When I read his tweet begging Mark Zuckerburg for money, it actually made me sad.
Lastly, Kanye’s obvious inability to let go of his ex Amber Rose is a story I think most people can relate to. I am not going to pretend to know why they split because I don’t have a clue but I do know, through his music and performances, he was hurt. I think Amber was more than a partner but a muse; a vessel of which his creativity could freely flow through. Love can sting so much at the end.
Kanye isn’t perfect. He says inappropriate things sometimes and I don’t doubt that he has unresolved issues. But, his music and talents are undeniable. He is human with millions of humans looking back on him.