When are we going to get tired of Kanye?

“Kanye” and “controversy” belong next to each other in the dictionary. Ever since his Hennessy-fueled interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs, a miasma of public odium and megalomania — and a string of tour de force albums — have reinforced Kanye’s reputation of being both polarizing and staunchly influential. One wonders whether he wields this power to wreak havoc strategically — or if he’s half-adamant, half-unaware of his tendencies. Perhaps both.

It’s been two weeks since his most recent collab album with Ty Dolla Sign, “Vultures 1,” released on major streaming platforms, and, despite the inevitable controversy — Donna Summer’s estate and Ozzy Osbourne angered by his unapproved sampling of their songs, the album being taken on and off Apple Music and Spotify because of issues with his distribution label — the album is charting number three on the Billboard 200, and “CARNIVAL,” the album’s hit single, is second on the Hot 100. 

People seem to have no problem separating the art from the artist. Fans revel in the flaws, warranting his antics as hilarious, excusable and a tiny price to pay for “perfect music.” It wouldn’t be the first time Kanye has proven that we can’t live without him: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”his “apology album” following the Swift incident at the VMAs — is considered his best ever.

Of course, many feel morally at odds, and it’s not hard to understand why: Kanye has engaged in some questionable, tactless behavior in recent years that, too long to mention concisely, the interested person can find here

Bearing that in mind, the criteria for canceling, the line between what’s permissible and inexcusable, becomes incredibly nuanced and difficult to construct for cases like this one. Is it true, as Kanye admitted in an interview with David Letterman, that "If you guys want these crazy ideas, these crazy stages, this crazy music, this crazy way of thinking, there’s a chance it might come from a crazy person.” Does greatness excuse? It is hard to balance the incalculable joy he’s spread, the power to induce ecstasy in millions of people through his music, with the obviously hateful and uncalled for rhetoric he spreads in Twitter outbursts and interviews.

Kanye believes that the good outweighs the bad. In a viral Instagram post, in his typical egotistical fashion, Kanye says that “Yall tryna kill the superheroes.” Whether this is true or not is up to the reader.

Does “Vultures 1” come close to Kanye’s previous albums? Definitely not. The lyrics aren’t there: “In the dark of night, these thoughts of mine keep me up all night,” and the funny, though childish “Beautiful, big-titty, butt-naked women just don't fall out the sky, you know?” are perfect examples. 

But the album is not without its merits: any fan of good music — who loves a sexy, dystopian, dark and electronic thump atmosphere  —  won’t deny that Kanye provides. “PAID,” "HOODRAT” and "PAPERWORK” are unlike anything you’ve heard before, experimental in the best sense of the word and sure to elicit strong reactions. To compare: Yeat’s “2093,” also an experimental and dystopian album with mixed reviews about its lyrical content, has garnered a lot of hype about its production. Those who listen to Travis Scott and Playboi Carti will also notice general similarities to the above.

Why is the cultural zeitgeist craving dark, futuristic music? Are we seeking an outlet for an unsatisfied villainous urge? Headed down a dark path… or simply expecting to?

“Vultures 1” is not an album Kanye will be remembered for. It’s very much like “Donda”: you appreciate the sound but months after the fact, it's no longer on repeat — and probably won’t be ever again. At the moment, however, it's a must-listen. 

With “Vultures 1,” an album that may not be his best but still has commercial success, it’s hard to tell if Kanye’s power is diminishing. Perhaps artists who have quite literally changed music have this effect: fans will always come back for more, hoping for even a fraction of that former potency, the ignition of the same flame that births a “Graduation” or “808s and Heartbreak.” Euphoria and nostalgia combine to create the benefit of the doubt. 

When are we going to get tired of Kanye? 

Only time will tell.


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