I hope and pray every day that there are patches of sand out there where people have their happy heads neatly shoved, and have no idea who Kanye West or his Kardashian/Jenner brigade are. There was a time, a long way back, when Yeezy’s antics were more than entertaining. And then they were just entertaining. And then they were amusing. And then they started to grate, like a cultural migraine.
For the past few weeks he’s been dominating all of the headlines that don’t really matter (but seem to get the most attention) for a multitude of reasons ranging from the stupid to the really stupid. That’s not to say that what he’s doing shouldn’t be of interest. Really, West is a very overt and bewildering symptom of a much larger problem, and, if we want to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with contemporary pop-culture, Yeezy might be a good place to start.
Kanye’s primarily online rampages came during the apparent heat of beef season. Duncan Jones slammed Lady Gaga’s cringe-worthy tribute to his dad Jareth the Goblin King at the Grammys; B.O.B came out as a believer that the Earth is flat and ended up exchanging diss-tracks with Neil deGrasse Tyson (no, seriously); Stephen Fry quit Twitter after being called out for an unfunny and borderline-misogynistic gag at the BAFTA’s. And then Yeezy emerged from the fog of war, with a new album, The Life of Pablo (Picasso, that is), to promote, and a lot of shit to start.
The whole thing started with a three-way Twitter tiff between Kanye, rapper Wiz Khalifa, and model Amber Rose, Kanye’s ex and Wiz’s wife. It was all a bit of a misunderstanding, but there was certainly nothing to be misunderstood about Rose’s one-two combo of revenge tweets that told us a little bit too much about her and West’s sex life.
Then returned the at-this-point-mythologised Swift-West beef, resurrected by a line from the latter’s new album- ‘I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.’ Classy. And as if that wasn’t enough, he took to Twitter again to claim that he’s in tens of millions of dollars’ worth of debt, and that Mark Zuckerberg needs to hit him up with a loan. Oh, and that people should stop building schools in Africa and give him their money, because that would be more beneficial to the black cause. “You’d rather open up one school in Africa like you really helped the country… if you want to help… help me”.
I’m trying not to tinge this feature with that sort of smarmy sarcasm that you see in all fifth-rate, student pop-culture journalism, but everything about every one of these stories is just so damn absurd and out-of-touch with the lives of everyone else on the planet that it’s hard to resist translating bewilderment into irony just to save face.
All we can hope for is that these are the last gasps of a dying horse, and we certainly have cause to believe that, because West is not winning. Amber Rose killed him with two tweets; Taylor Swift called him out at the Grammys whilst picking up her second trophy for album of the year; and as for the Zuckerberg debacle, well, I think we can all agree that Kanye took care of Kanye on that.
And that’s not all. As I write this, Yeezy is still whipping up a nonsensical storm on Twitter, and has yet to make his new album available anywhere other than his BFF Jay Z’s universally reviled streaming service, Tidal. And tidal seems apt. Because maybe this is the storm before the calm.