I’m a fan of Kanye West. I haven’t listened to all his stuff but I do like his newest album: “The life of Pablo”. Having never tried to review music before this is likely to be clumsy at best, but I hope that whatever impression I can articulate will be interesting or useful to someone.
Let me begin by saying that his persona is a part of it. Just like the album cover. It adds greater depth of meaning to each song, because you know where it comes from. I know what Kanye is about and I like it, I tip my hat when someone is willing to offend the politically correct majority. I’m someone that likes to do things differently. So is Donald Trump, so is Kanye West. I like them because by being willing to break the rules they break the mainstream narrative and make themselves a target to naysayers. I’ve felt like an outsider to those safely in the mainstream my whole life, it’s just who I am. So when I see someone do it in front of the whole world it resonates very strongly with me and gives me confidence. It makes my world a slightly more comfortable place and conversely makes the world more uncomfortable for many. People with a tendency to do things differently are also responsible for humanity not still being in the palaeolithic. I believe that humanity evolved to have a balance of rule-breakers and rule followers, because having both creates the highest probability of survival and reproductive success in a population. You can’t have too much of either.
What does happen when you have only rule followers? To me it feels like a system which keeps on building more and more social pressure with no healthy way to release it or laugh at itself. As a matter of fact this is exactly how I see the dominating paradigm of political correctness. The natural balance is upset because the legal, social and economic systems can greatly punish those for saying things which frankly are true and only marginally offensive.
What do I really think about what Kanye does though? Well I think it’s pretty funny to be honest. And it certainly works if you want to sell records. There are hundreds of would be superstars waiting in the wings because Kanye has distinguished himself the most successfully. Made people feel something about him en masse. This isn’t even to speak of the music yet.
I liked the music because it was beautiful. It was harmonious. Many of his previous releases displeased the ear and created tension or low vibration energy. I don’t like songs like that. My favourite style of music is psychedelic precisely because it is by and for a trance-like mind. Does it come down to maths whether a song is pleasing or is it simply my taste? Yes.
Certain mathematical principles do apply to beauty. Yet merely following the equations of beauty would soon become obvious and displeasing, because it lacks the other important quality: creativity. Kanye has this quality, arguably more than any other A-list artist. Can we then conclude that his persona makes him A-list but his music makes him cult? I haven’t listened to all of his music, but I think he’s always been quite artistic about it rather than commercial.
Embarrassingly I lack the vocabulary to describe the music itself. Perhaps I ought to read some album reviews to see how the professionals do it. As a big picture kind of guy though, to me it’s not so important what’s happening specifically as is the story in broad strokes . The way I see it is that it’s a break-the-rules musician, releasing an artistically sound album which I happen to enjoy listening to.