Kanye wasn’t born; he was made.
The elusive, notorious and God-like rapper we deem as one of the highest symbols of hip-hop did not, contrary to popular belief, rise out of the ashes or from the dust of Jay Z’s heels. He did not ascend from the triangular prison of the Illuminati or land on the stage from the grips of an eagle. No, Kanye West started as just another man, another rapper, another dreamer.
It’s hard to imagine the arrogant and outlandish artist as anything but a man born to wealth and celebrity; like most stars, he worked his way to fame and respect. And while his legacy was created from his unparalleled lyrics and platinum records, his cockiness and obnoxiously high self-esteem weren't products of his fame, but the ingredients of it.
In a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, Dave Chappelle talks about the first time he ever met Kanye, admitting that before anyone knew who Kanye was, “you could tell he was going to be a star." He tells a hilarious anecdote of the moment Kanye, the rapper, was born.
In a room with already established and respected artists, Kanye used his God-given arrogance to explain to Dave Chappelle just what his life would be like someday, taking a call, he tells the other line, “because my life is dope, and I do dope sh*t.” And that was it. Kanye was no longer just Kanye, but the illustrious, all-powerful Yeezy.
So what can one take away from yet another hilarious and quirky story about Kanye’s arrogance? The lesson is simple: You will only ever be as important as you believe you are.
It’s an arrogant statement. It drips in egotism and narcissism, sticking to the roof of your mouth as you try to swallow it whole. Like most things that are hard to swallow the first time -- the more you swallow it, the less gross it seems. When you break it down to the bare bones of the idea, it’s really just about perception.
Because life is all about the façade, and how well you play off your façade is key to how much you succeed. For those painfully shy people, trying to make money in sales, their façades demonstrate that they are confident, outgoing and overtly charismatic people. For those attempting the life of an artist, their façades may express the tortured and repressed child who was bullied in high school.
We go into work, school and life every day, wearing a mask of false identity and confidence. We create an image of ourselves that we hope others will believe and perpetuate. So, in the terms of Kanye and his incomparable success in the music industry, if you want to be the best, you must tell people you're the best.
Of course, Kanye has the verses and Grammys to prove that his success was well-deserved, but in an industry where pure talent only gets you so far, perception and self-branding become key components. In the rap industry, one founded on self-assurance and reputations built in lyrics, if Kanye hadn’t assumed he was number one from the beginning, how would anyone know to follow him?
The man lives by the notion that he can not only do anything he wants to do, but he’s going to be the best at everything he tries. And while I don’t agree with his assurance in leather jogging pants, I do agree with his assurance in himself. Because without the unwavering, all-consuming love he has for himself, how would the rest of us know how to feel about him?
We Follow By Example
Since childhood, we've learned to watch and repeat. From our first words to all those Spanish exams we tried not to fail, we've grown up around the notion that things are how people explain them to be. In the case of Kanye West, he was the king because he simply declared himself the king.
From the most debasing and vile human acts in our history, we've seen that the masses follow those who speak the loudest and the strongest. Single men are able to move nations, begin wars and create nationwide stereotypes by perception and example alone.
You Can't Stand Up To Cocky
Cockiness, like general delusion, is hard to reason with. People who exude a certain amount of arrogance are seen as too self-absorbed to fight with, and as a result, they are usually uncontested. In the case of Yeezy, the man is sometimes too ridiculous to rationalize with, so many are forced to step back and try not to let the light shining from his ass blind them.
It's Better To Be Too Sure Than To Be Unsure
No one respects a man on the fence. In the competitive landscape of today's world, those who are overly confident are always favored over those who can't form opinions.
There is no time for hesitation, and being unable to make a decision, even if it's the wrong one, will never get you anywhere near power. The only way to be taken seriously is to stand your ground, deliberately and unfaltering, even if it's falling apart beneath you.
You Are Who You Believe You Are
If you want other people to believe something, you must believe it first. As C. S. Lewis once said, "We are who we believe we are." If mass acceptance is half the battle, then believing in your own perception is the other half. To truly be able to convince others of your dream, you must first convince yourself.
You will never achieve success or the embodiment of the person you've always imagined for yourself, if you don't have complete, all-consuming faith in yourself.
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