Is Kanye West Rap's Howard Beale?
Of course, the way West acts out now — in what we'll call his Yeezus Period — justifies more attention than an awards-show tantrum or cringe-worthy stage crash. However you feel about what he's said over the last several months, it can be hard for anyone listening (even Kanye himself) to get a firm grip on what he means.
"I say things the wrong way a lot of times," West said on his Wednesday appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel, "but my intention is always positive."
Creative approach has never been West's problem. It's not hard to see he means well, despite his flaws. His problem is execution. His "always positive" intentions don't always pan out. When that happens, he has to backtrack and explain himself, as he did on Kimmel.
Sometimes that involves apologies (even "backhanded" ones, West said to the New York Times in June) or clarifications, which he made on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio One show last month. Fortunately, when he does, West makes great insights and compelling television, as was the case with Kimmel.
It's the kind of appearance, the eloquent mess it was, that makes you wonder if Kanye has been in the spotlight so long that he's kinda lost it, or simply had enough. Kanye West on Kimmel was a true Network Television Moment. He was the rap-game Howard Beale.
On Kimmel, he lamented being put "in boxes," wanting to break into the fashion world but stuck as typecast in hip-hop. West vented about a "glass ceiling" to achievement in his Times interview in June. On Lowe's BBC Radio show, he referenced himself as another iconic movie character, with his "Truman Show boat hitting the wall."
Like Truman Burbank, Yeezus wants out. Also, he's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore! West is sick of being pigeonholed as a just a rapper. Hell, he was sick of it years ago.
In the spirit of Burbank and Beale, West is challenging the Media Artifice, running closed-captioning and web transcribers through their paces with his Kimmel appearance; spitting out impassioned run-ons and upper-case names of cultural icons a mile-a-minute.
"When I compare myself to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, [longtime National Basketball Association commissioner] David Stern, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Jesus; I'm saying these are my heroes," West said. "These are people I look up to. This is the type of impact I wanna make on the Earth." more on this story