Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mopping Up Culture Vomit: In Defense of Kanye

Defense being a complicated concept.

You'll think I'm defending his actions. Which I sort of am.

And maybe you'll think I'm defending his music. Which I most certainly am.

But what I'm not doing is wholeheartedly condoning what Kanye West did. I'm just examining it.

So we all know the story: cherubic country pop sensation wins a moondick at the Video Music Asswards for Best Female Video or something. She is understandably elated.

The video in question (by the way, I thought cute football player guy wrote "tired of Obama" to Tay-lo at one point) is adorable. You really must have a heart of stone not to get goosebumps when quarterback dude whips out the "I love you" sign after she whips out her own. That's what she said.

Returning to our prior narrative, this is the point at which Kanye becomes more hated than Obama, Jon Asslein, and Rod BlaGEAUYe-vich combined. I'll refrain from linking to said incident because I have faith that anyone who reads this blog has learned how to use the Google.

I feel your hate. Really, I do. Drunk, (yes, he was wasted on a gallon of Hennessy or something else rappers drink), arrogant rapper gets on stage and takes it to the most adorable thing on the face of the planet. Even Obama called him a douchenozzle (paraphrased).

Many have pointed out that Kanye was right. He didn't say Taylor didn't deserve it. He didn't say Taylor made a shitty video. He pointed out that Beyonce made one of the best videos of all time. Cue meme roundup.

And. She. Fucking. Did. You've seen this thing, right? It is so good. So fucking good.

So fucking good that instead of New Years Resolving to do something useful like lose weight or stop punching women, I resolved to watch "Single Ladies" more often. I have, but I'm still disappointed in my progress.

But "Single Ladies" and "You Belong in Me" (fuck; "With Me") are apples and oranges. The first is high concept masquerading as the catchiest song on the face of the Earth starring someone so beautiful she makes Bar Refaeli look like an unfuckable hag.

That was a joke, in case you're an idiot.

Look at that video. Perfect.

PERFECT choreography. Perfect use of special effects. Starring not one, not two, but THREE hot bitches.

That is wrong. They are not bitches. They are queens. There's a rap song about that particular concept by some Wally guy.

The video is brilliant, high art.

"You Belong with Me" is not. It is really, really, really cute and has some sweet things to say about how the best person for us doesn't always look like the best person for us. It is an achievement, and Taylor (and her director, who was conspicuously absent...cue seething hatred for MTV) deserves a lot of credit. And considering that Beyonce won best video of the year, Taylor totally deserves the award.

But people will not be talking about the video for "You Belong with Me" in 15 years.

I'll bet anybody we'll be talking about "Single Ladies" for-eva. And, unfortunately, this incident.

I initially just got pissed at people for being pissed at Kanye. I hated their hate.

I told anybody who would listen (and most people who wouldn't) some variation of the following:

"You've never gotten drunk and cussed out somebody that didn't deserve it?"

To which they usually replied, "Well, yeah, but I didn't do it on national TV."

Ah, too true. The simple answer to this might be, "You'll never get the chance to be drunk on national TV and cuss out somebody adorable."

That still didn't shut people up. They were pissed. So I kept thinking about it.

What put Kanye in that position? And I mean position in the grandest, non-sexual sense.

Kanye IS the best rapper alive. Maybe not at rapping, but he's got the best package on the whole.

No. Penis. Jokes.

Okay, just one: "package in the hole?" HA!

The guy is a brilliant rapper in terms of what we think of as rapping. On his best stuff, his flow is unbelievable (take, seriously, anything on any of his solo albums pre-808s, but "Get 'Em High" on The College Dropout might be the best example).

His production is unthinkably good. No arguments there, right?

His choice of guests is perfect. One of Jay-Z's best lines ever (tall order, I realize): "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man?" On a Kanye song.

His taste is unparalleled. Just read his blog (when it's not down from all the people reading it). Great music videos, great visual art, great music, great fucking lighting fixtures.

Kanye's taste shows on his records. He has dictated trends in subject matter in rap lyrics (emo rap? him), fashion, and production since before people knew his fucking name. Everybody thought 808s sounded like shit when it came out? All rap, no, all hip-hop sounds like that now.

And he is not a bad man. Like President Bush and Vladimir Putin, I looked into Kanye's teary eyes (you're a nice guy Leno, but, seriously, shame on you for invoking Kanye's dead mother to get a ratings boost) and knew he was a good man.

Listen to the lyrics:

"To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug-dealers, even the strippers, JESUS WALKS WITH THEM."

"Did you realize that you are a champion in their eyes?"

And, perhaps most simply:

"Welcome to the good life."

Anybody'll admit that Kanye's lyrics have made millions of people happy. Anytime I'm in a bad mood, all I need is to listen to The College Dropout from beginning to end.

That, my friend, is a gift.

A gift, naturally, not given selflessly. The guy's made countless peoples' lives better. So can't he live it up a bit? Date the the most attractive (or sometimes weird-lookin', but still reaaaaaally hot) people on Earth? Can't he believe the same positive jam he feeds to everyone else?

And, as hard as it is to empathize...

As hard as is to understand the concept of getting drunk at a nationally televised event with millions of young, impressionable teenagers watching...

Can't we forgive him for making a mistake?

Brilliant people have always died for their art - suicide, overdose, homicide.

Cobain, Hendrix, Lennon.

Kanye's on suicide watch.

Please. Don't let another person who's made so many people happy die just because he made a mistake.

And, lest I blame everyone but Kanye for Kanye's problems, I'll say this straight to you, Mr. West: you don't have to do this anymore.

The defense rests.

Jordan Pedersen has tried to be a nice person for his whole life. It's worked out sometimes. He would also prefer Format Magazine not sue him for using their brilliant art.