Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Pay attention to Kanye West


(Mark Azali/Flickr)
(Mark Azali/Flickr)

It seems we have entered a new era of Kanye West. This is good news for all of us.

It was 2004 when the producer-turned-MC first made headlines with the release of his debut album, “The College Dropout,” and in the decade since, he has proved himself an artist worthy of the unremitting limelight we cast him under.

Last week, with the simultaneous release of his third collection as a fashion designer, Yeezy Season 3, and his eighth studio album, “The Life of Pablo,” it appears we are witnessing the most recent in a long line of rebirths of Kanye West. And dare I say, we are lucky.

We are lucky that we have an artist like West to serve us on frontlines of nearly every facet of pop culture: from fashion to music to Twitter feuds to reality TV. Whether you like the man or not, it’s hard to argue, after this much success, that he’s not talented, and it’s his unrelenting insistence on expressing that talent that makes him so inspiring.

Today’s Kanye West, although in debt, is successful in many areas, married to perhaps the most desirable woman in the world and in no shortage of material for a legacy. The regular want for fame that drives most musicians to their creative peaks no longer factors into West’s equation. So then what’s a creative man to do?

If you’re Kanye West, keep going. Keep making music, yes, but also expand your reach into every medium to which you are allowed. Clothes, video games, philanthropy, fashion – it seems Kanye operates on a “let no opened door go unnoticed” policy, endlessly willing to get his ever-reincarnating creative message out to the people by any means he can. This is something we could all benefit from emulating.

We’ve always had artists like West at the peaks of celebrity to inspire us creatively. The Beatles and Madonna and Michael Jackson and so many others are comparable in their longevity and capacity for change. But those celebrities weren’t nearly as accessible to their fans as celebrities are now. With our celebrities, our chosen few, communicating to us directly through Twitter and releasing new music effortlessly via the Internet, we have the opportunity to let them into our lives on an unprecedented level.

There is of course a risk that comes with that level of accessibility. On our side, mostly a risk of obsession and disassociation from our own realities. But, being wary of that danger, we as creative people, every single one of us, owe it to ourselves to pay attention to them.

What I’m saying is, wouldn’t it be amazing if Michael Jackson had a Twitter? Well, he does! Our modern Michael Jackson has a Twitter! It’s @kanyewest and he tweets outrageous things and links to his new music and callouts to his enemies. It’s cool, as a fellow human being with creative potential, to watch his mind unfold in front of you. And it’s easier than ever to do it.

West is our icon, at least one of them anyway, and we should look at him as such. He has an ambition and creative drive worthy of our admiration. The kind of high-stakes creative risk-taking he does is something that we all have the potential to do but, in a world where taking risks is often seen as irresponsible rather than praiseworthy, is something that is not often realized in many people.

And that’s why we should pay attention to him – because Kanye West is a fully-realized human being. He has every resource at his fingertips and is in a unique position to create whatever he wants. And lucky for us, he uses that power to make great stuff.

I wish I was Kanye West, and when it comes down to it, anyone with even a breath of a creative dream in them wishes they were West too. I think, then, it would beseech to watch him at work, enjoy the ride he takes us on and take notes.

“The Life of Pablo” is available now for streaming exclusively on TIDAL.

Becky Wandel is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *