So I guess as a disclaimer I should say right off the bat that I haven’t listened to a Kanye West album since 808s and Heartbreak. But since his beginning, Kanye West has fascinated me. I believe he is a genuine artist: extremely talented, astute, and gifted. But I also believe he’s a person who is trying to be as self-aware as they can be in an environment that is never stable. He’s not a port in a storm; to me, he comes across as the piece of flora caught in the storm a piece of nature powerless against the incredibly strong wind that is determined to blow however the hell it wants.
Kanye West is probably the most apt representation right now of what it’s really like to be famous: constantly bewildered; knowing you have a platform and knowing you want to say something but not knowing how to present it in a way that will be relatable; trying to manage the deluge of coming from nothing, where very few people on Earth care who you are to being something that has become a commodity.
It would be an adjustment (to say the least) for anyone.
I think he’s still trying to be real. I think he’s still trying to be himself, whatever that is. Others who are famous and successful and beloved (and not viewed – at least right now – as mentally unstable) have become that way because they either 1) focused attention on issues other than/larger than themselves; [e.g. Bono] or 2) they’ve surrendered who they really are, either putting on a show or becoming the one who orchestrates it [e.g. Beyonce].
All of this makes me sound like a major Kanye West apologist, and I’m really not. I think I’m most interested in the idea of fame as a construct. The larger issue, one we can really all relate to, is what our authentic lives look like. Who are you? Underneath the labels of what you do for a living or how many kids you have, who are you? How would that change if you were famous? And if you are somebody with a platform of some kind – and you might be – what do you have to say? What is your reality?