Why do people still listen to Kanye

New album "Ye" : The chaos in the mind of Kanye West

For anyone else, the album following a mental breakdown would take advantage of the weakness. At least it would try to get to the reasons. Not so with Kanye West, the world's most famous hip-hop star. He is a genius traumatized by success. After his mother died in a cosmetic operation that he financed, he - like Muhammad Ali once did - embarked on a path of self-empowerment that wanted to break moral categories, since everything that is right and wrong is dictated by those in power already own. "It's a different type of rules that we obey," he calls out now. But who is he calling it to? He has never found like-minded people in that sense. He is alone.

This has been shown quite drastically in the past few days in the way his eighth album came to the public. "Ye" it says and was grandly announced by West. But the notoriously misunderstood hip-hop rebel has cut all reliable connections to reality. He fell out with the streaming service Tidal. The previous album "The Life of Pablo" could still be heard exclusively on Jay-Z’s platform. But then Kanye West claimed he had been defrauded of three million dollars. So how should the music make itself heard this time?

On Thursday, West invited the crush to Wyoming for a listening session. He had withdrawn there himself to work obsessively at the exclusive Diamond Cross Ranch on all the tracks and albums that he intends to release as a producer, co-author and musician in rapid succession. A live stream accompanied the event, which was offered to selected music journalists and their influencer "friends", who were flown in with private jets, at crackling campfires and in the haze of grilled steaks. Why so much effort for seven new songs?

West leads a life that is poison for an artist

"Ye" is West's latest metamorphosis, which has now made his alter ego and his brand name Yeezus an abbreviation. Another building block in the empire. But West is also the son of a holy mother. The spectacular admission to psychiatry in November 2016 was preceded by a nervous breakdown on the ninth anniversary of his mother's death. When asked the year before what he had sacrificed for his success, he replied: "My mother."

Now, in his emotional distress, he first had to support his wife Kim Kardashian after a robbery, complete his long-planned album and prepare a tour in which he wanted to do everything differently. At the premiere, he removed the boundaries between audience and artist, his own fashion show and theater performance, and also seemed to want to level the difference between himself and the crowd. But the revolutionary concept was drowned out in the confused behavior that he exhibited and that shortly afterwards caused him to seek assistance in a clinic, completely burned out.

It is obvious: West leads a life, the poison is for an artist with his claim. At the side of a celebrity star and a member of the lavish Kardashian clan, he's surrounded by shallow business acumen. TV celebrities are so afraid of losing everything they have built up through a thoughtless word or an unfavorable demeanor is so great that they are panicked not to make any mistakes.

Kanye West makes the public a mirror of his aggression

West is rebelling against this. But where does it take him? He raps about psychiatric drugs and hallucinogenic drugs. Threatens to kill himself. Also threatens everyone else with all sorts of things. Describes how they freaked out in his family after he said that slavery was "a choice", a matter of will, not external circumstances. The blacks are said to have been to blame for the slavery themselves? Just a few weeks ago, many people in the United States did not find that amusing. He often proceeds according to this pattern: Regardless of whether everyone advises me against, I just do it and see what happens. He makes the public a mirror of his aggressions - and is then amazed at the vehemence of the rejection.

But provocation is not a viable artistic concept. Not even for a rapper, as the generation following West around Kendrick Lamar shows. She owes a lot to him and his handling of aggressive sounds, but she understands him less and less. The last time he had to experience that when the album cover of Pusha T's “Daytona” was released.

As the producer of the album, he had approached the picture of Whitney Houston's bathroom, in which the singer had died. It shows the sink littered with drugs and medicine packs. He had spent $ 85,000 on the photo, and said he would pay the sum himself when Pusha T didn't want to spend that much on it. In any case, he felt taken by surprise by West. Whitney Houston's relatives reacted in shock. They found it “tasteless” and were stunned that West “penetrated so far into the privacy of the deceased artist”.

And then there is West's support for Trump, who is considered a racist by many blacks. He "loves" him, West tweeted. Although this gesture can be explained simply by the fact that he experiences the president as a strong man who uses the right methods, namely the same as him, it is unworthy of the son of a former Black Panther activist. He is less and less interested in what is going on politically in the USA. Hardly any of the shocks that shape the debates get through to the new songs. For Metoo he only has a mockery.

In the first piece of "Ye" he turns a fantasy of violence into a proof of love

"The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest", he sings in the opening piece, of "Ye" which, in terms of form, has the character of a confession. No beat, just a pale synth noise, he speaks: "Today I seriously thought about killing you." He doesn't say who this is aimed at. But from this fantasy of violence he develops a proof of love by saying that you only want to kill what you really love. An extremely crude thought has sprung from the brain of a borderline egomaniac. "And I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you, so ..."

It's this aspect of mockery that is so disturbing, as it goes way beyond the boastful meanness that is common in hip-hop. Kanye West is really arguing outside of the canon. And the frightening thing: He knows that. “People say, 'don't say this' or 'don't say that' / I say it out loud just to see how it feels,” he explains his method of the calculated scandal that he as a borderliner gives the confirmation he needs. He uses feelings as a weapon - also against himself. So it goes on: "Sometimes I think really bad things / Really, really, really bad things." One does not find out what this bad is that takes hold of one's thoughts. But how he artificially slows down his voice at this point, how it puffs up into a gloomy murmur, you know that you have to be careful.

West says he gets scared of himself sometimes

The writer James Baldwin wrote in his book "A Hundred Years of Freedom Without Equal Rights" that material advancement in a racist society like the USA is not enough to feel accepted. For a black man who does not want to be arbitrarily arrested, beaten, harassed or lynched, it needs "a handle, a trigger, something with which to instill fear". West's trigger is insane. The chronically irritable temperament of genius. He walks on the edge of the abyss as someone who says that he sometimes gets scared of himself.

This line can be found in "Yikes", a song about drug addiction, with which he addresses his own addiction ("I done died and lived again on DMT, huh / See this a type of high that won't come down / This the type of high that get you gunned down / Yeezy, Yeezy trollin 'OD, huh"). And he describes how the prescription drugs make him weary and overly sensitive. They drove him crazy.

The highlight of the album: "Yikes"

And as if delusional, he finally confirms once again that he considers himself a "superhero". After that he just screams - similar to Jim Morrison in "The End", when he couldn't think of anything else to say "Father, I want to kill you / Mother, I want to ...".

"Yikes" is undoubtedly the musical highlight of the 30-minute album. The other songs are sketches of a growing alienation. The family man Kanye West tries almost desperately to explain his sentimentality. For example when he wonders what his daughter will think of him one day (“Violent Crimes”).

West described "Ye" as part of a five-album project that he recorded with Pusha T., Kid Cudi and other members of his troupe. They should appear in quick succession by mid-June. Because West has always believed that the best remedy for chaos in one's own head is chaos.

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