Kanye West is not over. Kanye West has largely informed the culture of the past 10 years. This has as much to do with his persona as much as it has to do with his incredible talent. The foundation of Kanye's persona, and his appeal or ire depending on whom you ask, is a product of how much Kanye feels. Kanye ushered into the spotlight what rappers like Jay z and even Kool G Rap before him were introducing into the rap landscape for years, that thing being feeling. Moreover, being able to be a hustler while not being a monolith of machismo and male bravado. Introducing a rendition of that archetype that averts not only obstacles posed by the immediate struggle of that day to day lifestyle, but imposed by society, and the feelings that resonate in hurtling those obstacles as well as the ones already in your personal life. In other words, exploring the territory of not just a hustler, but a calculating human being that transcends the circumstances that challenge your very existence.
With all of that being said, Kanye rose to the cream of the crop by way of his undeniable talent, but also his provocative behavior. This has proved true, ever since describing the struggles of a middle class black man in "The College Dropout" to his eventual rise to where he is now, atop the hierarchy of fame. This is epitomized in his latest album The Life of Pablo which is largely informed by the hurtles imposed on one with incredible fame, which in itself may sound ridiculous (privilege check) but it explores how fame is disorienting in that it complicates what a genuine relationship is. In other words, this album works largely within the world of feeling. Throughout all of his career Kanye has been able to put himself atop pop culture, largely influencing and informing what was "cool" within the culture. All the while, his albums were consistent in their high content and his behavior was consistent only in its inconsistencies.
Now it's 2016, the culture surrounding Kanye has changed and if he is not already, then soon enough it will become apparent that Kanye is an antiquity of a culture that's becoming obsolete. The same thing's that put him in and then elevated him further into the spotlight, his capacity for exerting his feelings so intensely, may soon be his downfall. Kanye's behavior is totally informed by his passion and he yields to his intuition, and his successes over the years have largely merited him the benefit of the doubt. However, the cultural we find ourselves in currently is not informed by feelings, on the contrary the complete opposite. We are in a cultural climate that dismisses feelings and yields to logic and reasoning. This has come by way of marginalized groups being given a common platform in social media which allows for rational conversations to take place over a wide range of subjects afflicting society and culture. Social media now dominates and informs the culture, and with that, the cultural filter that largely belonged to Kanye is being stripped from him. Kanye once informed the cultural spectrum, while now he sits on one end of it.
For Kanye to fit within this new cultural landscape would be to restrict Kanye of what initially gave him his standing within the culture. To put a filter over Kanye's feelings would be to diminish the product that is Kanye West. Yet, the truth is we put Kanye in this position, and we do not want to put a filter over Kanye. For as provocative, or crude, or straight up wrong we may think he is we will consume him all the same. Much in the same way that Trump is a terrible person, it's difficult to explain how bad trump is because, well, what hasn't been said in an attempt to quantify how terrible he truly is, but this only speaks then to our larger culture. We live in a capitalistic culture, the focus being on consuming. The endless timeline that informs the culture then informs the endless news cycle. For how much we may cry out about how bad Kanye or Trump are, not to say that they are in a similar morale arena, etc. you get what I'm saying - despite how much the timeline might cry foul about their behavior we will consume it all the same because they are endlessly provocative and therefore provide endless fodder for the timeline. The result of this means they may be impartial to any actual consequences as their provocations provide cultural currency, they run a monopoly over the cultural marketplace, which ultimately they reap the benefits of. Yet, at the end of the day they are largely pardoned of their behavior because they are successful, but perhaps even more so because pardoning them would be to pardon ourselves of our own irrational behavior in hopes of being one day successful, despite all of our own transgressions, which in actuality we in all likelihood would suffer from.
Sitting on the periphery of this conversation is Kanye's attacks on Jay z.The attack spurred from a stifling of a music release due to "percentages" and "politics". Kanye has called Jay z a big brother in the past, and this is an accurate description of their relationship. This is because Jay z is the opposite of Kanye, whereas Kanye yields to feeling Jay z operates within reason. Where Kanye has his head in the clouds Jay z has his feet on the ground. For every rant that Kanye speaks about ideas there are business meetings being held between Tidal and if not apple then Prince's estate as to the rights of streaming his music. Kanye aspires to be Jay Z, but is simply incapable.
Just tonight it's been reported that Kanye has been administered into a hospital in LA. This comes shortly after the announcement that he cancelled the second leg of his Saint Pablo tour, despite other reports saying that he plans to continue a second leg in 2017. Regardless, it seems as though Kanye is in a position of genuine crisis, physically, and now somewhat professionally. Despite all of this we are, mostly, rooting for Kanye, even though we all know he will more than likely land on his feet. Still, we can only hope that he gets better...
Do we want Kanye to change, yes. Do we want Trump to change, yes. Do we have any reason to expect that either of them will, I have yet to see anything that would uphold that. Nevertheless, we will consume it all the same. However, while the former's actions may be of the consequence to his career the latter's actions will likely not be of the consequence of his own persona/brand but very well may be of the consequence of millions of people in this country. Sadly, we as a people are resigned to watch (hopefully just watch) the spectacle of it all, and then refresh.