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Insights On How Kanye West Changed The Music Business

People were happy to attend award shows that put them into racialised categories or even excluded them, until Kanye did something, and he did the MOST.

28/02/2017 04:55 SAST | Updated 28/02/2017 04:55 SAST
Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

A young Taylor Swift steps up to accept a VMA for Best Music Video and one Mr. West intercepts her to proclaim, "Beyoncè had one of the best videos of ALL TIME!" Then there was furore, Obama even called him a jackass but the thing is, he has been vindicated. The racism pervading the music industry needed to be called out. And Yeezus came to do just that. People were happy to attend and accept award shows that put them into racialised categories or even excluded them and theirs completely until Kanye did something, and he did the MOST. He's so extra! It's astounding.

After Macklemore won a Grammy for Rap Album of the Year ahead of the widely acclaimed "Good Kid, MAAD City", he texted Kendrick Lamar to say, "you got robbed." Now Adele can dedicate her Grammy for Album of the Year to Beyoncè without irony. So many artists even decline the nomination or opt to sit it out. While Mr. West suffers at the hands of fickle public opinion he paved the way for this resistance to even be happening.

Kanye West changed music and artistry forever, so many people wouldn't have the platform to create without "The College Dropout", "808s and Heartbreak", and he has paid the price over and over again for standing up to white supremacy in the United States.

I don't want to deify the man, I just want to highlight where this conversation started. And while I don't quite get the Donald Trump support, I'm guessing it has something to do with getting back at Obama, or he could have just lost it. It is an irrelevant slip in the face of what this person has done for black men and some womxn in the rarified space he occupies.

Perhaps we should start similar protests to parties with all male lineups. Seriously, it is so tiring seeing these same dudes at every show, it isn't right. Growing up with the legends of the game Brenda Fassie, Lebo Mathosa and TK dominating this business means we know that something is afoot to erase female artistry and prioritise this hyper masculine, misogynist hip hop scene.

Yeah I said it, and I stand by it, this country's entertainment industry needs a refresh. Everybody sounds the same, so many people are suck and are doing the most to fit into this homogenous hogwash, when we are such an incredibly talented nation.

It is time to innovate and build an entertainment industry that represents us, with more African influences, and more contemporary sounds.

Everyone should get a chance to shine, and those with undue gender privileges should be checked so we can begin a conversation about representation and letting everyone get a piece of the pie. Once a year on August 9, stages are filled with womxn performers but we spend the other 51 weekends grooving to the same males. And some of them have really lost it.

How can our dance floors still be dominated by golden era hip hop? I mean I grew up on the stuff but there is so much more music to be played and experienced, and yet we're still stuck in some weird time warp where we are still grinding to Ginuwine in 2017! I actually can't. It is time to innovate and build an entertainment industry that represents us, with more African influences, and more contemporary sounds.

I remember not knowing half of the nominees at the MAMAs last year because South African radio and broadcast does not feature them! We need a renaissance and in this new world, Johannesburg stages and dance floors aren't trying to look or sound like New York in 1997. It is so embarrassing. Let's move on and put on our own.