I’m a bit late, but 2013 may be the year we look back at as a turning point in Kanye West’s career. For the past decade Kanye has become a major player in Pop Culture due to his undeniable music and occasional outbursts. This year was different for the 36 year old Grammy award winner rapper. It seems like the Louie Vuitton Don’s music is taking a backseat to the rest of his life. His relationship with Super Celebrity Kim Kardashian became the topic of discussion among music and pop culture enthusiasts alike. Although KimYe’s relationship seems to be in the same vein as Michael Jackson & Lisa Marie Presley’s it has been hard not to watch. The two gave birth to the ironically named North West in June and were engaged by November. Mr. West attacked the paparazzi and walked into a light post… he also put out an album this year, but more on that later.
Throughout 2013 Kanye did several interviews that left most people confused, others turned off, but everyone listening. “What is he talking about? Why does he sound so ‘white?’ Why doesn’t he start his own fashion line? And was that A Truman Show reference?” We all watched the interviews and left with more questions then answers. He sat in the studio awkwardly as Charlamange bashed his album, and we laughed as he threatened the paparazzi on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He discussed his frustrations with the fashion world every chance he could. He mentioned how life-altering the Yeezy’s were and despite that fact Nike wanted to marginalize him. Kanye clearly has big plans. He wants DONDA to be the next Apple/Disney with him being the next Walt/Steve. The problem is that there is a glass ceiling he isn’t sure how to get through. He is frustrated because he believes he’s earned a spot in Paris on Fashion Week. He believes he’s had a large enough impact in music, fashion, sneaker and pop culture to warrant the opportunity to create on another level. Unfortunately, the gatekeepers to those opportunities do not see the potential he talks about. No one knows how he’s going to change the world through product. Sway doesn’t have the answers, but neither does Kanye. His anger and frustration was transformed into sounds with the album Yeezus.
Sonically, Yeezus is drastically different from anything he has ever done. From the blaring sounds that begin with “On Sight”, the dancehall reggae fusion “I’m In It,” or the arcade noises on “Guilt Trip.” Critics have praised the album and its futuristic sounds. The general public started deleting and WTF’ing long before “Blood On The Leaves” or “Bound 2.” In his interview with the BBC Kanye described MBDTF as “perfect,” and that this project was his attempt to break new ground. Kanye is well aware that his time as a viable and relevant rapper is limited. He feels marginalized as a musician and he wants to leave a lasting & tangible impact other then great beats and clever lyrics. Yeezus and the subsequent tour are his attempt to prove himself as a “creative” worthy of respect and financial support. The album was released in June, but is still being debated now. It tops many publications Album Of The Year Lists because of its quality and because its Kanye. But it will take time to see if its ever appreciated by the general public like 808s, but its an understatement to say this album hasn’t had a lingering effect.
2013 was the year of Yeezus despite releasing an album many people consider his worst. The Yeezus Tour has been a massive success in a technical and artistic sense. Its excited to wonder where he will focus his creative energy next. He seems fixated on changing the way we experience things though DONDA. Music is secondary to the larger picture now. He is determined to establish himself as a “creative,” and a culture pillar in the same light as Michael Jordan or Ralph Lauren. The handful of interviews and videos he did this past year produced many gifs, memes, quotes and parodies. Although many Hip Hop fans will agree that it is”Drake Season” Kanye has made it clear he is after something greater. His desire to infiltrate high art and fashion fascinated me more than Nothing Was The Same or Magna Carta Holy Grail. If his thoughts are executed they could be groundbreaking, but waiting on these corporations for confirmation or money is thinking exactly like the “new slaves” he’s been talking about all year. His wife, his daughter,the interviews, his tour, his rants, his contractions and polarizing album have made 2013 one of Kanye’s best years yet.