He first tackled the "Today" interview where he claimed he was bullied by Matt Lauer (who 'Ye said is "not a bad guy, I'm sure"), comparing his situation during the Q&A to an abused girlfriend who gets hit in public and can finally prove she's been wronged. Then he turned to the subject of that "Today" interview -- former president George W. Bush -- saying his Katrina telethon outburst wasn't worded the way he wanted, but that it was "an obvious truth." "There is no leader in history that has been villainized that way, and didn't get killed at war or commit suicide," he announced. As for Swift, West likened his Bush publicity drive to the good will Taylor accrued when Kanye stole her VMAs moment: "Just as Taylor never came to my defense in any interview, and rode the wave, and rode it, and rode it, that's the way I rode the wave of the Bush comment. I rode it."
When he finally finished chatting about his Big Three Bugaboos, West moved on to his projected "Twisted Fantasy" album sales ("600,000, comin' off being the most hated person this time last year"), and people whose energy has inspired him (a list that includes reporters, actors, comedians, writers, fashion designers, models, subway workers, doormen, cabdrivers, and teachers).
Kanye West had "Kanye Commandments" taped to the wall in the Hawaiian studio where he recorded "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." The letter-sized sheets of paper mandated that nobody present tweet, take photos, or wear goofy garb. Clearly, once the album was in the can, the rules became null and void -- Kanye tweets, snaps pics of credenzas, and wears Mr. T chains. But West's violation of one of his directives has been the most egregious: "Just Shut the F--- Up Sometimes."
West has made what half of The Amp considers the best album of 2010. It may be the greatest album of the past 10 years. And yet every day, West chips away at its brilliance by filling our brain-space with his incessant speechifying. This man cannot go anywhere without leaving a diatribe in his wake. A telethon. The VMAs. The Facebook offices. Movie screenings. The "Today" show. And now, an intimate gig at the Bowery Ballroom.
All artists have their own strategy for keeping themselves in the public eye around album-release time. They get married. They divorce. They say vaguely racist things. But sometimes -- in rare cases -- the art is good enough to stand on its own and people will simply talk about how amazing it is. Kanye has gotten rave reviews for "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," including perfect scores from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. He started out promoting "MBDTF" with free song drops every Friday, a beautiful performance at the VMAs, a brilliantly staged moment on "SNL," and an arty short film called "Runaway." But then he turned the promotion of an album that explores his imperfect humanity into an actual demonstration of a man grappling with his flaws. An artist who so meticulously chooses every sound and lyric in the studio blabs in public with the delicacy of a firehose. Kanye West, we implore you: Cut it out. Or at least start talking about fresh topics. If we're listening to you rant, we're not listening to "Hell of a Life." You're talking us out of loving your fantastic album more and more each day.
[Photo: Jordi Vidal/Getty Images]
- Kanye West
- Bowery Ballroom
- George W. Bush
- Taylor Swift