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Solo Sounds

Go West

Shauna Rahman has a love-hate relationship with Kanye West.

kanye-westAlthough I would usually dedicate my musical writings to alternative tunes and quirky bands – à la indie-rock – my interest in Kanye West increases daily. His arrogance bewilders me. His egomaniac tendencies to go on abusive rants when he doesn’t win awards, irritates me no end (‘I’m definitely in the history books already’). His unrelenting obsession to be the best rap/hip hop/R&B producer-rapper-artist on the planet is slightly over-ambitious to my tastes. And yet Kanye just keeps shooting out hits like they are going out of fashion. The man is one talented 31-year-old who I secretly admire for both his determination and work ethic. His albums – The College Dropout (2004); Late Registration (2005); Graduation (2007) and 808s & Heartbreak (2008) have all received global awards, Grammy nominations and excellent reviews.
His honesty is just too endearing. How many other artists in the US would have been as bold to say that MTV had only used Britney to open the MTV Awards in 2007 in order to boost ratings, and that they completely exploited her breakdown as an audience attraction? When Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and every other wooden A and D celebrity went live on television to read an auto-cue about supporting all those residents in the city left homeless from the disaster, West was the only person to ignore the bullsh*t on the screen and spoke of how the US Government dealt with the tragedy signifies exactly how divided American people really are: “I hate the way they portray us in the media,” he said. “You see a black New Orleans family and the media says ‘they’re looting’, you see a white family and they say ‘they’re looking for food’. And even for me to complain about it, I am a hypocrite…George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
This was not a racist or a ‘poor me I’m black’ statement. West was actually telling the truth about the reaction to the New Orleans incident from the US Government. Nobody else in the celebrity zone had the courage to do so either. He was the one person who got up and said that the global hip hop world was discriminatory against gay people and there is a direct comparison on how gay people campaign for rights and how black people continued to campaign for civil rights for years. “You need to speak your mind and break down barriers,” he said.
But is he trying to be controversial? I genuinely think West is the way he is because that is who he is. He does not want to impress or try and err on the side of those who are popular at the time. It seems his beliefs and principles are in-built and deeper than what you would usually expect from a hip hop artist today. Just weeks after his mother died he was back on stage fulfilling the work ethic she installed and him and pursuing his career further. Yes, his personal life suffered (he broke up with his long-term fiancée in 2008 due to his obsession and commitment to work). But whose hasn’t when trying to achieve complete work satisfaction? 808s & Heartbreak is based on his break up from his partner and is one album I can listen to over and over. It’s very dark but mixed with great beats and lyrics, and is one Mr West can be proud of.

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