COUNTERPOINT: Kanye West is the appendix of the music industry


Tyler White

Kanye Adam is given life by Kanye God

It’s like Bon Jovi’s hair, Biggie vs. Tupac or Kurt Cobain’s death. No matter what genre you’re into, you know about the notorious Kanye. Almost everyone in the world of music has, at one point, taken part or sat in on a heated Kanye conversation addressing this decorated hip-hop “soldier”.

Kanye released his first album The College Dropout in 2004. Since then, now almost 10 years later, he has released six more albums, won 21 Grammy awards and people call him one of the most influential producers and artists in recent years.

I am not going to argue that he hasn’t made an impact because the facts are too obvious. But if a meteor hit the earth right now, it would surely make an impact, too.

It’s not a question if Kanye has had an impact, but if that impact has been positive. Many describe Kanye as “edgy,” but no matter what he does, people will continue to call his work musical genius. He is so liked because he is so hated by many.

New and edgy simply isn’t an accurate description of Kanye’s music. Everything Kanye has produced under his own name is either a rip off or an employment of real talents of other artists to cloud the fact that he has none as a musician himself, a lot of the time without giving any credit or gratitude to those artists.

The best example can be found on his newest album, Yeezus. First off, indie rocker Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) is on the album but receives no credit as a featured artist.  There is one featured artist on the album, however, God. (Oh and Kanye doesn’t go by Kanye anymore, he prefers Yeezus or Yeezy. You know, like Jesus?)

This album is classic Kanye soul hip-hop mixed with some added industrial, punk and new wave elements. What was that, these sounds already have names!? Even for tunnel visioned hip-hop fans this style of music should not be perceived as anything new. In hip-hop alone there are several other artists that have been creating this kind of sound for years. Take Saul Williams or Death Grips for example who came before Kanye.

In turn, I understand that nothing in music is original, everything new is built off of what is old. Without this unspoken rule amongst musicians there would be no music to enjoy, no innovation. The problem with Kanye isn’t that he is influenced by his predecessors, but instead that he is completely content with taking full credit for anything he touches.

He may have good intentions, but his narcissism and lack of self restraint do not pair well with his idealistic social views. From calling American president George Bush a racist live at a Hurricane Katrina charity event in 2005, to interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMA’s in 2009, it seems evident he has no filter.

That’s exactly why he is so famous though. With all that money of his you think he would have gotten himself a babysitter or publicity agent right? Well, yes, but Kanye doesn’t believe in doing what another man tells him to.

Why would he when his self- inflicted media blastings keep people talking about him? Publicity stunts are what keep Kanye on top and all the Saul Williams beneath him. If there was someone around to keep him sane then he wouldn’t be able to draw attention to himself.

So has Kanye affected music? Absolutely, without a doubt. Could the music industry do well without the influences he has created ? I would argue it would in fact do better. If he would step down from his throne and renounce his self-proclaimed title of God, it sure would clear up a whole lot of space for other artists to succeed.

The man actually started out an excellent producer and for a while was just that. Maybe if he could do less self-indulged self-promotion and further the ideas he started spreading, he could create a new path for hip-hop that doesn’t rotate around gun play or drug dealing. He could make up for his lost cause.