Kanye has always been an arrogant bastard, but for some unholy reason, it wasn’t beefs with 50 Cent that did him in. Instead, ruining the moment of a 19-year-old millionaire was the deal breaker, unloading a mountain of scorn onto the back of one sad, drunk fool.
It’s been a year since the inception of those “Imma let you finish” jokes, and to mark the anniversary at the MTV Video Music Awards this September — amidst spliced-up footage of the now infamous disaster — Swift decided to get patronizing, asserting via an out-of-tune shitfest that Kanye West is “still an innocent.”
Innocent? You don’t need to remind me, Taylor — Kanye’s a saint in my eyes. He may be a jackass that our entire nation boos, but he’s also a jackass that our nation pays money to listen to. Despite garnering disdain even from our own president, Kanye is the most influential rapper of our generation, and he better get his recognition for it. Sure, he may be prone to foot-in-mouth syndrome, but Kanye’s talent always seems to outshine his idiocy.
Like now: After hiding from the media for more than half a year since the Swift debacle, Kanye has finally stepped back into the spotlight — starting the world’s funniest Twitter, killing it on SNL and releasing a stream of free singles through his website’s G.O.O.D. Friday initiative.
Throw in two impeccable singles — the piano-laced, douchebag sing-a-long “Runaway” and the King Crimson-sampling “Power” — and it’s hard to deny Yeezy’s ear for innovative hip hop. I, for one, couldn’t be happier that the self-declared king of the game is back on his (likely Prada) throne.
My love for Kanye goes way back. The first time I heard him was when I saw the “All Falls Down” music video on “TRL.” I was in middle school and had begun my affair with hip hop, convincing my parents to buy me unedited versions of Nellyville and The Eminem Show.
There was also the premiere for “Jesus Walks.” The bombastic track, with its pulsing drums and gospel wails, blew my mind so much it almost made me want to go to church — a startling thought, considering I’m freakin’ Jewish.
I didn’t realize it then, but Kanye was fascinating to me because he was so different. He didn’t fit into the obvious niches. He wasn’t just West Coast or East Coast, black or white. He appealed to everyone. He was a dude who wrote personal songs — a rarity with rappers — with a flair for chipmunk R&B samples and designer fashion.
Since then, Kanye has reinvented his sound with nearly every album. There’s the trifecta of university albums: The College Dropout showcased his soulful production style, Late Registration was a booming hodgepodge of musical genres, and Graduation brought electronica to hip-hop (a trend that’s still going strong. “Like a G6,” anyone?).
The thread that ties these three albums together is Kanye’s wordplay (“They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation/ Well, that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation,” he spits on “Power”). Unlike, say, Eminem, it isn’t a rapping marathon: Kanye’s style has an easy singsong flow.
Then there’s 808s & Heartbreak; quite possibly the most important hip hop album in recent memory. It isn’t his most enjoyable album, but through it, Kanye West single-handedly killed gangsta rap, abandoning samples and blazing rhymes for starkly empty tracks with nothing but his voice, tribal drums and auto-tune — allowing for similarly emotional artists like Drake and Kid Cudi to blow up the charts.
Yeezy was the right man at the right time. All of the ’90s gangsta greats were on the free-fall: Ice Cube was doing kid movies, Flavor Flav was finding love and Biggie and Tupac had died. What little remained of the genre was getting destroyed by the unoriginal rhymes of men like 50 Cent.
Kanye didn’t take part in that. He just delivers instantly classic hip-hop. Sure, there are more legendary rappers, like Jay-Z, but even Hova has to thank Kanye for the production of his most important album, The Blueprint.
Yes, Kanye West can be a dick. But he’s a dick that has arguably more influence on the industry than anyone else. And when his new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy drops on Nov. 22, be prepared to witness another hip-hop revolution in the making.