Kanye West is Cap

Kanye West, Birthdays are special. Rather, they can be so long as everything is well executed by all parties. The host, the guests, and the person being celebrated. That means inviting the right people and catering to them when it comes to music, refreshments, venue, and overall aura.

That means being respectful of the space and cleaning up after yourself in an ideal world. For the birthday boy or girl, it means enjoying the day but not being so self-centered that you make it hard for people to deal with you. In the case of Kanye West, in a way it has felt like we all have been attendees to his self-planned, self-hosted lifelong birthday party. 

Admittedly, we’ve attended quite a few fucking bangers. Kanye just doesn’t always make it easy to up and go. There are the ego trips, rants, mood swings, and disruptive guests that make you apprehensive. We tiptoe through the door so that we aren’t blindsided by anything. T

he fact is that you can get birthday cake anywhere. There are playlists all over the internet for music consumption. Bars, clubs, and apartment kickbacks to curate a ~vibe~ and really, what is the actual utility of balloons? Balls of air that fit the birthday aesthetic and look nice, sure. In truth, whether large or small, they are weightless. Hold that thought.

Cancel culture is bullshit. It’s shortsighted, reductive, and ineffective. The perpetuators haven’t seemed to realize that, yet wonder why G.O.O.D Music’s top guy has managed to survive multiple “cancellations” despite subpar clothing, rap lines about bleached assholes, oh and of course the public friendship with Donald Trump. Now, none of this is said to paint Ye like a resilient protagonist.

In fact, it would be easy to argue why he’s rightfully earned the mud slung his way. Half of me feels as though he has yet to realize it, yet the other half believes he’s taken manipulation to the extreme with all he’s done as of late. 

To many, Jesus Is King is the culmination of a journey toward enlightenment for the self-anointed Yeezus. He’s righting his wrongs and refining the long existing relationship with his ‘Lord and savior’. It is an attempt at growth. To the skeptics, it’s a last ditch effort to get back on people’s good sides.

The buddy-buddy dynamic with 45 caused hordes of fans to finally call it quits and he recognized things may have gone too far. Doubling down on the relationship in the midst of this religious reset calls that idea into question, but with West anything is possible.

Are there bright moments on this album? Absolutely. When has West ever not delivered ‘good sounding’ music? Yet to harp on the idea he is still an elite producer in the midst of all this is like saying someone’s teeth are straight when asked to name one of their redeeming qualities. This moment is about more than soul samples, beautiful arrangements and ranking Kanye’s discography. 

I find difficulty accepting that his messaging and actions come from a fully genuine place. This is the same man who referred to himself as a God quite often. Of course, being an imperfect Christian, it’s not my right to judge anyone’s walk or relationship with Christ.

The beauty of spirituality is that it is yours to manage. However, putting said beliefs and ideals on front street after a year full of questionable choices and a clear shift in perception makes it all feel a bit tainted.

Seemingly, he acknowledges this. On the Fred Hammond-assisted “Hands On” he states lines like “Told the devil when I see him, on sight/I’ve been working for you my whole life/Told the devil that I’m going on strike/I’ve been working for you my whole life.”

While in any other case this may feel like a true “come to Jesus” moment, for Ye it falls flat. In the same song he confronts his reputation with “What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?/They’ll be the first one to judge me/Make it feel like nobody love me”.

Now Christians can often be some of the most judgmental people so he isn’t completely off track, but a statement like that lacks accountability. What have you done to make people judge you a certain way and no longer love you? He continues with “If they only see the wrongs, never listen to the songs/Just to listen is a fight, but you booked me for the fight/It’s so hard to get along if they only see the slight/From the love of religion”.

That’s a heavy statement. While antics and outrage marketing have been regularly used items in his toolbox, we have happily subscribed and even regarded him as one of the greatest artists to ever grace music. Rightfully so as he has earned it, but we have propped him up to that pedestal.

We have excused it all so long as the slaps keep coming. We have booked him for the main event time and time again. Though many have understandably turned their backs, he is and always will be relevant.

Now, there is still the matter of him acknowledging people’s doubts of his authenticity. Narcissists have a knack for recognizing when they’re disliked. It either fuels them to continue what they’re doing—turning more people off—or completely switch gears. The ultimate act one does to prove that they are not the narcissist people think is to give credit to someone else. There’s no bigger “someone else” than Jesus Christ.

By bowing down and giving us some cool flips along the way, he creates the type of situation where any one else would probably get our full empathy.

For Ye, we’ve been around long enough to understand some things just don’t last. We were told Life of Pablo would be a gospel album and it ended up only being one song . Countless projects advertised that we never got. Being a manic creative who works off of the present energy in his life, this gospel era feels a bit like a heightened phase. 

Again, that is not to say the music is bad. I will own up to the many times I nodded my head.  “Everything We Need” and “Water” are beautifully composed. The reunion of Clipse on “Use This Gospel” might be a top feel-good moment of this decade. Ty Dolla $ign is the avocado of the music industry and Ye continues to add it to all meals.

“On God” is a nice juxtaposition from “On Sight”. Kanye still knows what he is doing when it comes to the creation of music that people like. Yet if I had to liken his discography to the items present at a birthday party, Jesus Is King would be the balloons. Dressed up very nicely, but nothing substantial at the core. 

At the end of the day, I’m looking for the words an artist says to tie everything together. 

This was Kanye’s moment to be profound. For me, his vocal contributions to the album were the worst aspect. Some cool melodies, a few nice pockets when he raps, but lyrically weak and uninspiring.

I can’t tell if he really believed in the whole “Closed on Sunday’s, you’re my Chick-Fil-A” concept or he intentionally came up with some bullshit to get a rise out of us. It’s catchy and unfortunately a bit humorous, but beyond that I was not moved lyrically by anything.

I accept that is a me thing. Kanye’s behavior skews the way I receive and process what he does. Surely I’m not alone in this. He isolates himself, only to talk in this album about taking “this walk” alone as if people abandoned him for no reason.

He’s the birthday boy who makes you hate him up until that day, only to completely flip script and go all out to keep people on his side. It seems to be working less within the culture, which only means his efforts may get more drastic. With word of a Christmas album coming, this reinforced faith will translate well to the holiday spirit. 

We know he can throw a good party. We know some gifts, in the form of cool features and concepts, will be present. The question is never the quality. It’s do we believe the delivery and execution is from the heart? Do we want to keep going to these parties knowing all they come with? We’re tired of the back and forth just for nice cake and a solid aux game. 

What You Expect?