Kanye all day
The artist, though controversial, has managed to keep himself relevant no matter what
Kanye West has been at the forefront of the music scene as both an artist and a producer for the last decade.
His six albums are not only innovative bangers, but have purposely moved away from whatever was popular at the time. On his first album The College Dropout, he rapped about insecurities during a time most other artists were building themselves up. His last album Yeezus was incredibly experimental with sound while maintaining the ever-relevant lyrical content Yeezy is known for. His 808’s and Heartbreak used auto tune before it became part of T-Pain’s image. West’s ability to be ahead of the curve and apart from the crowd is hard to believe.
But in the last few weeks, West has been floundering. He claims to be $53 million dollars in debt and his latest album The Life of Pablo underwent many changes and delays before finally being released on Tidal, the music streaming service started by Jay-Z. Taylor Swift threw some serious shade his way at the Grammys and his social media is constantly full of nonsensical ranting.
Kanye as a person and Kanye as an artist are two different people. As an artist, he’s a lyrical mastermind, one of the greatest rappers of our generation and incredibly experimental as both a producer and a writer. His albums are instant classics and his songs are anthems that everyone, rap-lover or not, know the words to.
Kanye as a person is petty. He calls others out on Twitter, loves himself more than anyone else and shamelessly indulges in bad publicity. He’s almost like the Donald Trump of music – making comments that are controversial just to have his voice heard. Recent tweets including pleas for Mark Zuckerberg to bail him out of debt, blaming Chance the Rapper for delaying his album release and the most controversial, professing Bill Cosby’s innocence.
West’s ability to keep himself relevant is a talent – whether it’s his marriage to Kim Kardashian, new music or an absurd, unfounded statement, Kanye always seems to be in the news.
He knows how to play the game, how to keep himself in the loop and relevant in the media. He’s a skilled entertainer and has stretched himself into domains further than music. He knows what to say, when to say it and which names to drop. The hype around his albums is built around this type of publicity he garners.
The only artist that has come anywhere close to this kind of complex marketing is Drake when he dropped If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. His issues with Cash Money Records led him to surprise drop what was supposed to be a free mixtape right before Kendrick dropped his album, taking away publicity and hype.
Marketing in the music industry is completely strategic, so long as the players are willing to play the game. West has managed to perfect his image, though many find him narcissistic, in a way that will keep him relevant to matter what is happening.
West’s appearance on Saturday Night Live this past Saturday is another example of his erratic behavior– the show was borderline crazy and even though “Ultra Light Beam” is good, it was an interesting choice off the new album.
Once West’s newest album becomes fully available, we may get a better idea of what’s going on in his head. For now, the rapper will remain one of the greats who’s ability to produce and create music will be remembered for decades to come.
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