• Ike Okwerekwu

Where's the Old Kanye?

The transformation of Kanye West from a soulful, relentless black man to a seemingly loss individual who proudly wears the MAGA hat and networks with people such as Donald Trump has been confusing and provocative for many people. During the prime years of his career, Kanye West deeply connected with many people by rapping about relatable subjects such as family and love. He amassed a large following of fans by attracting people who enjoyed rap music, but could not truly connect with the music genre’s dominant theme of gang culture.

Despite the prominence of street rap in the 2000s-decade led by iconic artists such as Jay Z and 50 Cent, Kanye West created a lane for rappers to be themselves without glorifying the gangster lifestyle, while still being unequivocally black. He revolutionized hip hop when he released his classic album, “The College Dropout.” Memorable tracks such as “Slow Jamz”, “Jesus Walks”, and “Through The Wire” helped the artist build a strong fanbase. Throughout the whole project, Kanye West melodically rapped with supreme confidence and a strong sense of purpose.

With his next album, “Late Registration”, Kanye West continues to deliver soulful black music. My favorite tracks from the album are “We Major”, “Celebration”, and “Heard ‘Em Say”. What I admired about old Kanye West music was how he valiantly rapped about overcoming adversity and staying true to yourself. Early in his career, Kanye rapped and freestyled with so much passion, confidence, and purpose.

Kanye West continued to bless his fans with other great albums including “Graduation”, “808s & Heartbreak”, and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Every album he released felt iconic and timeless until the release of “Yeezus”, which in my opinion marks the musical downfall of his artistic work. Kanye West bravely took a risk in this album by choosing to explore a new form of creativity, but in doing so the album lacked the melodic, soulful elements that made Kanye’s previous albums great. Since the release of “Yeezus”, the release of his other albums lacked soul and he began to receive more attention for his antics than his music which leads us to the question “Where’s the old Kanye?”

For the last five years, Kanye West appears to be a whole different person and even acknowledges the change himself in The Life of Pablo track, “I Love Kanye.” From proclaiming that “400 years of slavery was a choice”, meeting with Donald Trump, and wearing MAGA Hats, Kanye West seems to have been in an endless amount of controversies since 2014. For many African Americans, his actions are provocative and baffling because his recent acts contradict the black experience he represented in his past music. The man appears to have transformed from a fearless black man with liberal beliefs to a free-thinking conservative individual who associates solely with Caucasians. The funny video below of him dancing to African Music with a lack of rhythm represents his change of personality.

Although I wish I could explain the reason for these questionable moments, I have no idea what’s going on with Kanye West and I am honestly confused by his actions. Many people including himself claimed that he has been mentally ill. In a lengthy interview with Charlemagne Tha God, Kanye West speaks honestly about his mindset and internal struggles he has been battling.

Hearing Kanye’s thoughts on various topics such as fashion was interesting, but I was left even more confused with more questions after listening to their conversation. Are we being too harsh on Kanye West? Is he experiencing a spiritual revelation that justifies his actions? Does he care about the betterment of the black community? Is Kanye taking his medications? As Kanye West infamously stated, “You ain’t got the answers!” and in this case, he’s right. Nevertheless, one thing I do know is that many fans including myself miss the old Kanye. If you too miss the old Kanye, feel free to share this post. Who knows maybe the post will receive enough attention for Kanye to read it himself and consider changing back to his old ways.

“I miss the old Kanye, straight from the go Kanye, chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye. I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye, the always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye. I miss the sweet Kanye, chop up the beats Kanye, I gotta say, at that time I’d like to meet Kanye.”

-Kanye West


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