Never change, Kanye West
So Kanye West pulled another stunt at the Grammys, this time chiding Beck for winning a Grammy that West correctly believes belongs to Beyoncé. Setting aside all psychological analysis over why Kanye West thinks of himself as Beyoncé’s award show knight in shining armor, I just have to say that I’m so over the official “correct” reaction to West’s antics: Eye-rolling at him for caring and shaming him for being rude. I say go with what moves you, Kanye. You make the world a better place for it.
Let’s start with the latter criticism of West, that he’s rude. Yes, it is commonly understood as rude to speak your mind during some more formal occasions. Rushing the stage at the Grammys, like choosing the Thanksgiving prayer to launch into a lecture about how there is no God, is an unseemly injection of harsh realities into a moment of ceremonial back-patting and generally seen as the height of rudeness.
But fuck it, it’s also entertaining as hell. Look at this! Look at it!
What is really lost here? We’re all entertained, the Grammy voters are properly chastised for being uptight and conservative, and Beck gets to be genuinely relevant again for like 5 minutes. So much more fun than nodding patiently along as Grammy voters once again hand another trophy to someone who is considered safe only because voters have had 20 years to grow accustomed to him. West broke the rules so that everyone watching, for a brief moment in time, can feel more alive. Show a little more gratitude, America!
But even more troubling to me is the way that West’s abundance of feeling gives so many people an opportunity to gloat about how they’re so much cooler because they don’t share the supposedly petty concerns about mediocrity. Yes, yes, we all know it’s silly to be angry that the Grammys suck because everyone knows the Grammys suck and why can’t you just wear your suit and smile at the sucking Grammys, Kanye? God, it’s just so uncool to care so much, isn’t it?
I don’t know. The flip side to that is to point out that West’s overabundance of concern about quality is probably a major factor in why he’s managed to have one of the most successful streaks of quality records in music history, rivaling the Beatles, and has come up with a multitude of production ideas that became so ubiquitous in hip-hop you almost might forget that he invented them. If he joined us all in the too-cool-to-give-a-shit troops, that streak might end. Sure, he has no inhibitor on his “that’s not fair!” reaction, but it’s also hard to deny that his judgments are generally correct in these things. More to the point, that inability to turn off his passion for quality is something he clearly takes to the studio with him, and we’re all the better for it. It honestly feels like it’s just too easy to feel cool by rolling your eyes and saying, “Who cares if most things are crap?” By rejecting the pressure to act above it all, West is rebelling against that. Which is harder to pull off than coolness-through-indifference, and yet he mostly succeeds at it.
Anyway, I know the comment section will be a sea of people rejecting this and pushing the common wisdom that it’s somehow cooler to accept mediocrity and politely endure bullshit like the Grammys than to fight back, but I don’t know, I like that West is trying something new.