I Have the Answer, We’re Going to Stop Posting Kanye West InterviewsPosted by Nathan S. on 11/26/13 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion, Debates, Kanye West
There was a time when Kanye refused to do any interviews, which right now feels a lot like saying there was a time when people had car phones. You remember it, it really happened, and it wasn't that long ago, but it's so different from your reality now, it might as well have been a dream.
Since breaking his interview fast to promote "Yeezus", most notably on the epic Zane Lowe interview (which now feels like the car phone of interviews), Kanye's appeared on two podcasts and counting, seemingly every morning radio show in America, his nightly monologues on tour and, of course, "Jimmy Kimmel Live". Keeping up with Kanye sound bites over the last two weeks has been like trying to keep up with every new mixtape that drops; at a certain point it's just too much and you resign yourself to missing something possibly dope.
Still, for the most part I've enjoyed the pieces of the media blitz I've been able to catch. There's no mind on the planet like Kanye's, and it's always interesting to hear him speak it. But today things took a turn for the worse.
If you have an internet connection and care about hip-hop you probably already know what happened, so I won't waste time recapping. Long story short, first Kanye went on "The Breakfast Club" and then sat down for a Sway interview during which he lost his shit. And yes, I know accusing Kanye of "ranting" or "flipping out" or "losing his shit" is a loaded term these days, it's often just a shallow dismissal of Kanye's passionate speech...but he lost his shit on Sway. If screaming at another human being for no rational reason isn't losing your shit, then nothing is.
Honestly, that audio kind of fucked me up. Not really because Ye was rude or mean to Sway - he was, but Sway can obviously handle himself, it happens - but because for the first time Kanye was confronted and challenged about his beliefs and he...had nothing.
Up until now every Kanye interviewer has been less of an interviewer and more of a human receptacle for his monologues; Jimmy Kimmel might as well have been a house plant. And I can't really blame then. When Kanye gets going he's a force to be reckoned with, and who wants to step in front of that train? I'd don't know if I'd have the conjones to do it. So while I'm not the biggest Charlamagne fan, I had to give it to the man, he asked the questions I've wanted asked on "The Breakfast Show":
Charlamagne: "To me it seems like you're such a walking contradiction because you'll denounce the corporations, but then you'll get on stage and say you need Nike and Adidas to back you. That makes no sense to me."
That is an excellent question, it really gets at the heart of what it seems like Kanye's message has been over the last few weeks. I can't wait to hear his answer:
Kanye: "100 percent."
Wait, I'm sorry, what? Charlamagne, please make him explain further.
Charlamange: But how? How can you denounce the corporations, say F the corporations, say you feel like a slave, then ask the companies to back you?"
Thank you, this is now an actual interview. I seriously can't wait to hear Kanye's answer.
Kanye: "It ain't that I feel like a slave, we are mentally enslaved. We enslaved to brands, we enslaved to the Benz symbol, we enslaved to chains. A woman is enslaved to the concept that a diamonds are a girl's best friend. Like girls in London don't even wear engagement rings...."
Oh, so....you...don't actually have an answer, do you? The Sway "incident" had me teetering on the edge, but that answer, or lack of an answer, here is what might make me to lose my faith in this latest incarnation of Yeezus. So what, exactly, is it that he stands for? The idea that anyone can do anything? That anyone can change the world, no matter who you are? Ok, sure, I'm with it. That'sgenuinely inspiring.
But this second layer, this "mental slavery" narrative? For the first time today I truly tried to understand what Kanye's messgae is , and how am I supposed to reconcile a man who preaches the gospel of anti-consumerism and then leaves NIke for a deal with Adidas? And did he leave Nike because they're, according to his logic, one of the world's leading corporate plantations? Because they use sweatshop labor? No, he left because they weren't playing him the royalties he deserved.
These interviews really left me feeling like Kanye's not raging against an elite power structure that's enslaving us. I'm all for that, it's bigger than hip-hop. He's raging against an elite power structure that won't fully let him also become elite. So if he wins, if he's victorious? If he's able to be on the level of the world's most powerul fashion houses and tech companies, or even surpass them? What do we get? An upgrade from old rich white people creating products to mentally enslave us to new and improved Kanye West products to mentally enslave us? Because, yeah, I'm having some trouble rallying around that message.
Is Kanye mad corporations are enslaving us, or mad they aren't paying him to enslave us the Kanye way?— Refined Hype (@refinedhype) November 27, 2013
That seeming contradiction, railing against the evils of corporate America while vowing to break into corporate America despite its prejudice, isn't neccesarily a problem. It's just a magnified version of the same contradiction he's been talking about since he was the only rapper with a Benz and a backpack. But this new Kanye doesn't seem to be able to address it with any real complexity, or even really have anything resembling a coherent discussion about it. He just flips his "visionary stream of conciousness" switch on, puts his head down and goes. That's exactly why he started yelling at Sway, because he was on monologue auto-pilot mode, so ready to start swinging that he mistook an open hand for the first punch.
And that mode he was in during these interviews today, while sometimes inspiring and even hilarious, doesn't really make me feel like I'm a part of anything greater, like Kanye's with me, building his spaceship to a better place alongside me. It makes me feel like his spaceship's already in orbit and he's too focused on making it to the next planet to really think about what life is like for those of us still grounded.
But the good news is that I'm no longer 15-year-old Nathan, or a 31-year-old hater/stan. I'm completely capable of having complex relationships with the art and artists I love, and picking and choosing the elements of that art I like and those I don't. So I don't need to get sucked into that "pick a side" bullshit. I can continue to be a Kanye fan and listen to all of his albums, including "808s" and "Yeezus" and admire his creative bravery.
I'm just not going to listen to look to any more of his interviews, and by extension RefinedHype won't be posting any more of his interviews. Sure, it'll suck to miss out on all that potential traffic - there's almost nothing that draws more easy traffic that "did you hear what Kanye said now?!" But the mission of this site, over anything, is to
look at titties let you know what's hype and what's worth your time. Frankly, at this point, I don't know if it's worth our collective time to keep posting, and keep talking about, different iterations of the same Kanye monologue over and over again.
You've heard it all already, you have your opinion, I now feel like I've reached a place where I have a well-thought out opinion, I'm sticking to it, and that's that. So barring anything truly extrodinary*, this will be the last time we have this discussion, the last time I write some 2,000 word think piece on the enigma that is Kanye West, at least as long as the "Yeezus"-era iteration lasts. We ain't got the answers, and I'm becoming increasingly convinced Kanye doesn't either, so why keep asking the same questions we've been asking since that Zane Lowe interview two months ago?
Let's get it all out now people, it'll be the last time for a while. And RefinedHype Nation knows when I say something like that, I stick to it. Just ask The Fat Guy Who Yells.
(* Here's my two exceptions. One, he talks explicitly about sex with Kim, because I'm only human. Two, he sits down with Jon Stewart, who I think might be the only interviewer alive with the humor, persistence and intelligence to really give us a clearer look inside Kanye's head.)
UPDATE: For those interested, the full Sway interview is now available.
THE BEST OF REFINED HYPE
RefinedHype on Twitter
Tweets by @refinedhype