He Has The Answers: Kanye West May Sound Crazy, But He's Making A Lot Of Sense
There's a lot to hate about the trajectory of Kanye West's career and the direction in which it has taken him. The maniacal egoism, the obsessive materialism, the unnecessary increasingly large chip on his shoulder, the excessive narcissism and the blatant blasphemy; all of these are traits that could easily be attributed to the Chicago native's persona these days. None of them are reminiscent of the man who arrived on the scene straight Through The Wire 10 years ago.
Yes, Kanye's changed. But for better or for worse, whether you like him or not (by now you may have gathered that this observer has leaned towards the "not" category), there are just certain aspects about the way he's gone about his business that are admirable.
Furthermore, those aspects were on full display last week as he toured a lineup of New York radio shows before the holiday, prompting us to create this list, the lessons of success we must begrudgingly take from the career of Kanye West:
Aspire to be versatile
All right, we get it. Kanye West sounds crazy at times. With all his ranting, yelling and public venting of his frustrations (see: "Yeezus"), the college dropout can sound a little over the top. And, to his credit, he is frank in admitting it.
"My technique is too harsh," he told the Breakfast Club on New York's Power 105.1 last week.
Most of those frustrations, anyway, have to do with what he calls being "marginalized," the idea that there are too many people trying to hold him back from being great. Simply put, "Yeezy" sees himself as one of the greatest visionaries of all time, a producer worthy of being mentioned among the greats, like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney.
"I know I'm the next Ralph [Lauren] to say the least. People are combinations of what they were in the past. So that means of course I'm a combination of Martin [Luther King, Jr.] and Malcolm [X], but I'm also a combination of Lenny [Kravitz] and Michael [Jackson]," he said on Sirius XM's "Sway in the morning" show ahead of the holiday break. "...In the future people will be absorbing all of what was. Think about what the iPhone is currently. You would've had to have thirty different things in your house to do what an iPhone does in one. So for people to say that the idea that Kanye West should only do music is ridiculous. People told me I shouldn't do music back when I was in art school."
Perhaps there are some who cannot not even fathom being the greatest at one thing, never mind many. And there's always likely to be animosity shown towards what people don't understand. But for however egotistical people may think Kanye is in articulating his ambitions, one thing he can't be knocked for is aspiring to excel in different spaces.
There are a lot of things that can be said about Kanye West. Some can be great compliments, others could be harsh criticisms, such is the nature of a controversial artist, but one thing that Kanye has to be given credit for is the fact that he backs himself. For whatever people think about his chances of actually fulfilling the goals he's set out for himself, and despite the doors that he says have been closed in his face, he still has the confidence to believe that his rise is inevitable.
His belief has gotten to a point that he truly does not care about public approval, it would seem, and it shows in the way that he goes about his business.
"The thing is I ain't got a problem with looking stupid," he said on The Breakfast Club. "I don't have a problem with making mistakes in front of people.
Whether the moment comes in the present or at a younger age, many are likely to have a time at which they wanted to do something that they felt they were both good at and that was fulfilling, but were afraid to pull it off because of the eyes that were watching. The mere fact that Kanye West, with the spotlight that is on him, shows absolutely no signs of having that fear is credit to himself.
Be Knowledgeable About What You're Doing (You'll Sound Less Crazy)
Part of the reason some may find it easy to roll their eyes when Kanye West talks about his endeavors, besides the fact that many want him to simply make music without all the extracurricular activity, is that a lot of people cannot relate with his "struggles." Rich people problems is what Breakfast Club co-host Charlemagne labeled them. But, in many ways, the Chicago native is at a period in his life that many of the aspirants of Generation-Y can connect to.
Kanye has yet to firmly break into the the fashion industry and he already thinks he is the greatest amongst those who are in it. It's a crazy idea, but it sounds even less so when he has the time to discuss it in detail.
During his interview on Power 105.1, Kanye West made nearly every historical reference imaginable to support every claim he made, no matter how ridiculous it may have sounded to some. As he spoke about his plans to shake up the world through design, he alluded to Riccardo Tisci, the creative director at French luxury brand Givenchy, and late British designer Alexander McQueen.
He referenced Marina Abramovich when talking about performance art. When speaking about his own "art," he referenced one of the greatest artists ever known with an understanding of what made that artist successful.
"I'm like Michelangelo, because I'm the new version of that, and anybody that backs me is going to be the Medici family that backed Michelangelo at this point," Kanye said, alluding to the aristocratic dynasty that helped the artist rise to fame during the 16th century.
It's not the most ludicrous thing in the world for a young thinker to believe that he'll be the greatest at whatever he does. Whether it's in the world of architecture, journalism, engineering, marketing or entertainment, there are bound to be Gen-Y-ers going out in the world everyday, banking on the fact that they can make it bigger than anyone else has. And they're likely to sound crazy if they let that be known.
But showing a complete knowledge of the present and past of an industry with an eye on the future can show people that you know what you're actually talking about, and you'll sound less crazy for it.
Wanting To Be The G.O.A.T. Does Not Mean Having To Put Down Others
Kanye West can sound egotistical. He can sound cocky. He can sound self-centered, disconnected and straight out obnoxious (depending on whom you ask). But one thing you aren't likely to catch him doing is marginalizing the artists with whom he is viewed to be in competition with.
"We're in this together," Kanye told Power 105.1," we are a group. If Beyoncé makes a dope video, we're all a part of that. If Drake makes a dope sound, we're all a part of that. It's not a matter of me having the best thing at this time, it's a matter of us having the best thing at this time."
If Kanye really is to climb up to being regarded at the greatest of all time, unlike others, he is likely to do so while stepping on others' toes.
Don't Be Afraid To Face Your Biggest Critics
It's one thing to say ignore haters and to keep your head down doing what you're doing, but it's a whole other to actually acknowledge the validity in their argument and tackle them head on. It shows not only a certain a level of maturity, but a confidence in what you're doing and a strength of belief.
During his interview in New York, Kanye repeatedly acknowledged the fact that he was answering question on a platform that has been used to criticize and ridicule on multiple occasions, as Charlemagne says, he is a repeat "Donkey of the day" award winner.
None of that, though, stopped him from going on the show and his reasoning behind that decision is simple.
"I want you to tell me everything I'm doing wrong in front of everybody so that I can improve on that."
Because of his appearance on the show, his ideas and opinions are that much more legitimized.
Photo credit: WENN