Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Opinion of Kanye West

Kanye rips the mic from Taylor Swift in 2009
I was happily binge watching 'House of Cards' on Netflix last Sunday night (poor Zoe Barnes...yikes) so I didn't watch the Grammy Awards, but the news about Kanye West leaving his front row seat and meandering onto the stage (again...) as Prince was handing the 'Album of the Year' award to Beck is much more interesting to me.

There's no question Kanye is a talented artist but he really seems to be pushing the needle on the WTF-o'meter with his latest uninvited stage appearance to share his unsolicited opinion.

Rembert Browne wrote an insightful analysis 
of the controversial performer's recent stage antics and why he did what he did. As Browne observed:

"Much has been theorized about why he is the way he is. Or what it is about the way he is that is so inappropriate and loathsome. But it’s not that complicated. It all comes back to an idea of Kanye West not being proper, about his lacking a certain respectability."

Browne opines correctly that Kanye embraces a habit of simply saying what other people think but are afraid to say out loud.

And he raises an excellent point when he notes that many people watching the Grammy Awards on TV or sitting in the audience for that matter also wondered how Beck could win Album of the Year over Beyonce; her album certainly moved more units than his and she had a hugely successful tour.

Was Beyonce Knowles album better than Beck's? I don't know.

Ultimately such opinions are far more subjective and complicated than can be set in stone as Kanye tried to do.

But I do think a lot of people are starting to wonder if Kanye has some kind of weird obsession with Beyonce Knowles.

After all it was only back in 2009 at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA's) that West stunned the Radio City Music Hall crowd when he leaped onstage and grabbed the microphone out of Taylor Swift's hands (pictured above) as she was accepting the award for 'Best Female Video' and started ranting about how Beyonce should have gotten the award.

For the record, I've got nothing against Kanye.

He's got a shelf full of Grammy Awards himself and obviously knows the industry, so maybe he does have a legit point that the Grammy's and the mainstream record industry as a whole still have a problem relegating artists of color to genres like hip-hop or R&B, while allowing performers like Taylor Swift or Beck to be accepted as mainstream "pop" artists.

But it's the delivery that confuses me.

When a guy compares himself to Shakespeare, Any Warhol, Google and Nike in the same sentence as Kanye famously once did during an interview, I don't think he lacks humility; I tend to think he's manic depressive and forgot to take his meds.

He's got a right to his opinion but the stage rushing theatrics have all the earmarks of a petulant, egomaniac child throwing a tantrum because he didn't get his way. It seems tacky.

Kanye has more than enough clout to have been able to arrange to appear on a talk show the morning after the awards to express his opinion in a more thoughtful way that would make his actions more clear; his message about bias within the industry more coherent.

But he decided to jump up on the stage, step in front of Prince of all people and insert himself into a moment that was not about him.

Beck was cool about it, if you watch the clip of the incident, Beck actually tried to get Kanye back up onstage to say what he wanted to; but Kanye decided to go back to his seat and smile - as if that was all he needed to do.

I totally respect Rembert Browne's opinion, but ultimately I personally have to agree with the The's Dave Swerdlick's opinion that Kanye West acted like "an ass."

After all it's not like Beyonce was ignored at the Grammy Awards, she took home three Grammys including Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song and Best Surround Sound Album.

Kanye's post-awards tirade to the press came off as klutzy and uninformed when he suggested that Beck needed to "respect artistry" - what does that even mean?

Beck, whose parents were actual artists, has been writing, playing and making eclectic and well-produced music in different genres for years - when you get down to it, was Beyonce "respecting artistry" when she lip synched the national anthem at President Obama's inaugural ceremony back in January, 2013?

No artist is perfect. Frank Sinatra wasn't, Beyonce isn't, neither is Beck - and Kanye West most certainly is not.

Frankly, Whoppi Goldeberg said it best in her comments addressed to Kanye West on 'The View' the next morning: "Everybody on that stage was a real artist honey."

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