I am always tempted to hate Kanye West. He gives very few reasons to genuinely like him, and I know plenty of people that have sworn off listening to him purely on the basis of his public persona of unending jackassery.
But, and this is a huge but, his music is often beyond incredible.
A few weeks ago, while out perusing shirts with a friend, I heard a song off of Kanye’s latest album.
The song begins with an auto-tuned rendition of Bon Iver’s “Lost in the Woods”. I turned to my friend with a grave expression and said, “I just don’t know what I think of this..”
Justin Vernon’s voice is joined by Kanye’s, cooing “Lost in the world.” My opinion started to shift, erasing concern completely as the music rushed in a tangle of drums and different voices. The song becomes more elaborate from there. Dare I say, the song becomes beautiful.
For a while, Kanye contemplates a subject immediately relatable. About the dual-nature of a home, of a city. Most anyone would hear this song and understand the commentary. Recognize the abhorence of falsity (kind of funny coming from West) and understand the competing love and hate for an overwhelming place.
Midway through the song, there is a clip of Gil Scott-Heron (a spoken-word artist) asking “Who will survive in America?” as the song, a cacophony, plays behind him.
As far as I’m concerned, this song is certainly Kanye’s triumph. It’s a grandiose, if simple, statement. And it ends with voices stopping short, leaving me wanting more. That’s a certain success.