Kanye West: Folk Heroe for the Crazies

Say what you will about producer/rapper Kanye West, his talent is undeniable. He’s able to make a former president feel terrible, he has a history of crashing MTV award ceremonies (he crashed one in Europe a few years back after a video of his didn’t win) and is like a modern, schizophrenic  version of James Joyce on Twitter.

Oh, yeah. He also makes music too.

 But the public seems to criticize him for these amazingly, breathtakingly publicity stunts that would drive any public relations expert up the wall screaming for escape like Tim Robbins in the “Shawshank Redemption.” His public insanity fills me with giddiness because in a world of wars, economic crisis and Sarah Palin, his antics are a welcome relief.

 He is America’s court jester. He comes along during dark moments, his head being a big bowl of crazy, and does something so weird and obnoxious one almost has to admire him for it.

 After Katrina, when he appeared next to Mike Meyers for a telethon and called President George W. Bush out for “not caring about black people” he did something that shocked and apparently upset the man journalist/author Hunter S. Thompson called “our goofy child president.”  Bush has stated that was a low point during his presidency (I could think of a few others, but that would be an entirely different Buzz blog). Only Kanye West could humiliate and embarrass a man who, for eight years, seemed to never show any sort of emotion from his critics.

 I first recognized his megalomania when, I believe it was seven years ago, I saw him on the cover of Rolling Stone looking like Jesus Christ. It must have been around the same time “The Passion of the Christ” had come out and Kanye was riding high with critically acclaimed solo albums and his work with Jay-Z. I recall thinking how smug this guy was, but now I realize his God complex then was the first sign of what was to come.

 Then last year he hit a bump in the road. He released “808s and Heartbreaks,” one of the worst albums I’ve heard. No beats, no hip hop, just “poor me” songs from a multi-millionaire celebrity. I’ve been told the lyrics were amazing, but seeing he drowned them with oversaturation of Auto-Tune (this generation’s musical equivalent of the Key-tar); I never knew what he was singing about.

 Then the genius minds of the TV show “South Park” mocked Kanye in an episode where the infamous musician can’t understand a simple punch line to a joke made by a bunch of fourth graders. After the episode debuted, Kanye sent word to the media that a cartoon had humbled him. Only someone as weird as Kanye West could be humbled by a cartoon.

 But he has comeback big. Not only is his new album one of the best hip hop albums I’ve heard in a decade, but I’m sensing the Syd Barrett of the 2000s is about to do something of the wall again. His recent makeup with Dubbya (which was strange since the remark was already five years old by then) and his apology to Taylor Swift (which he apologized to the singer while still stating she shouldn’t have won) were interesting, but I’m waiting for his next goof up.

 Kanye West isn’t the first crazy musician (Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, Phil Spector’s wigs), he is definitely one of the more amusing ones. And for that, I applaud him. Shine on you crazy diamond Kanye, shine on.

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