Here are two things I believe. 1) Kanye West is an incredibly talented and hard-working artist. 2) Kanye West is a fool and a boob. He is in very rare company here. There are few artists who combine such incredible talent with total obliviousness to the insanity of their own behavior. The only musician who matches it, in my memory, is Michael Jackson. But Jackson’s derangement somehow only sparked my sympathy. Kanye’s non-musical output fills me with nothing but disgust. I am not proud of that. Perhaps it demonstrates just how terrible West’s public persona is. I would rather feel bad for a child molester than say anything good about Kanye West.
I originally wrote this on Facebook. And I got a lot of push-back. People were either denying Kanye’s lack of self-awareness, or defending it as an important part of his artistic output. That push-back is why Kanye – and our reaction to him – fascinates me. Why can’t we hold two thoughts in our head at the same time? 1) Kanye is a brilliant artist-producer. And 2) Kanye often acts, in his personal interactions with the world, like a boob. More than a boob, in fact. A fat-headed egomaniac with a baffling persecution complex and a PhD in victimology. Our artistic idols can be flawed people. We don’t have to pretzel-twist ourselves into strained justifications for their bizarre behavior, like their every utterance is an integral part of their meta-art. Sometimes, people are just dicks. But you can still love their music (as I do Kanye’s), while being left cold by the person who makes it. And I should know: I like Morrissey.
Kanye has often claimed that those who do not like his output are racist. That is, frankly, ludicrous. He (rightly) bathes in critical and popular acclaim for his work. Every artistic avenue is open to him. His skin color has absolutely nothing to do with the irritation some people feel for his behavior. Do people dislike Ted Nugent because he’s white? No. They dislike him because he is an asshole.