ENTERTAINMENT

What's Going On With Kanye West Anyway?

Don't make me say it, but I really do miss the old Kanye sometimes.

15/12/2016 01:44 SAST | Updated 15/12/2016 09:34 SAST
Andrew Kelly / Reuters
"I'm with him." US President-elect Donald Trump and musician Kanye West pose for media at Trump Tower in Manhattan on 13 December 2016.

COMMENT

I'm going to come out and admit it: I'm a Kanye West fan. Huge. The man's a musical genius, damnit. Though I fully appreciate that views on the matter may, um, vary.

His recent outbursts and bizarre tirades against Beyonce and Jay Z among others were followed by a stint in hospital for exhaustion. It's clearly been a tough time for the rapper, following the reportedly violent robbery involving his wife, reality star Kim Kardashian in Paris earlier this year. Both have been quiet since, amid reports of a possible divorce given the strain, which were subsequently refuted.

But Kanye has popped up again recently in the most unlikely of places: Trump Towers. He emerged a "great friend" of US president elect Donald Trump, if the image he posted to his Twitter profile on Wednesday was anything to go by.

Why would Kanye DO this to us? It's beyond contrarian: it's stomach-churning. Trump is the ultimate troll-turned-most-powerful-politician-in-the-world, in a weird blip of reality that I still sometimes hope is a dream I'm going to wake from.

Kanye returned to Twitter after a brief hiatus, noting that his interaction with the controversial Trump was to discuss "multicultural issues", he said in a tweet on Tuesday. "These issues included bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago." He added: "I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change."

Some called it a cheap shot at his former BFFs, Beyonce and Jay Z who had an enviable relationship with outgoing US president Barack Obama. The most Kanye got was at least two references to him being something of a jackass, from everyone's favourite American president, following THAT incident with Taylor Swift.

In true Kanye fashion, he crafted it into a brilliant line on his hit single "Power", rapping:

"They say I was the abomination of Obama's nation/ Well that's a pretty bad way to start a conversation", followed up with the undeniable: "At the end of the day goddamn it I'm killin' this shit/ I know damn well ya'll feelin' this shit."

And that's the thing with Kanye. With his back against a wall he's a bit like our own president JZ: he's at his absolute best. (Except he hits back with incredible art and not, you know, screwing over the country's institutions in a bid to save his hide. But otherwise basically the same thing.)

But these are dark days for Kanye. He's blond. He's friends with Trump. He's lashing out at Jay Z and Beyonce. THE Jay Z and Beyonce. I don't know anymore.

Then I think back to "The Life Of Pablo" and how difficult it was to listen to at first. Unlike Ye's previous albums there weren't instant catchy hooks and riffs. There were no easy cuts for radio singles. The album, a constant evolving work that he just kept tweaking even after its release, demanded your total attention. To enjoy it one could not simply dip in and out. It resisted lazy listening, but if you gave it a chunk of the attention we so jealously guard these days, the rewards were rich. Its mix of the divine and the profane were particularly evocative and often exceptionally poignant -– as evinced on Ultralight Beam.

It wasn't perfect. So much of Kanye, and his work, really really isn't. But more often than not he blows us away. I'm starting to think his downs -- when he lets his fans down so abysmally, when there is no accounting for his behavior -- may be the price for all that genius.

Unless you're not a fan. In that case you're probably seeing all this as craziness upon craziness and I don't blame you. But for this Yeezy acolyte, I'm hoping this gaffe of presidential proportions signals another work of art in the making.