Real Talk: The Media Assassination of Kanye West

January 23, 2015

Culture, Opinion, The Zoetics

“Real Talk,” is written by columnist Quinton Valencia, an 11th grade scholar who has a distinctive outlook on current events, The Broncos, and communism. He will be writing twice a month about the media’s stupidity, radical ideology, and his favorite cat, Maggie.

By Quinton Valencia

The one truth that will always remain unwavering is that the media loves to paint a person as a real jerk. It matters little who the person is, but relies on the fact that constant attention and negative press can lead to that person reacting violently. As many can tell, I am referring to rapper and producer, Kanye West.

Ah, Kanye West, this dude was hot way before the media even knew who he was.West’s story is an intriguing one: he started as a producer in Chicago before climbing his way to a record deal with Roc-A-Fella Records (Jay-Z being the most known artist on that label). I could go on about every album that he has released, but they can be summed up in a few words: Masterful, Refined Greatness. Also, Kanye has won 21 Grammys and sold 21 million albums (66 million digital downloads as well) making him one of the most successful rappers ever.

These days, however, West is more known for his antics with the media instead of his obvious talent and success. Some of his highlights include his outburst during a concert for Hurricane Katrina, in which he stated that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” on live television; or when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards to proclaim that Beyonce’s music video was better. There have been various other altercations between the media and West that have left people scratching their heads.

Yet there is plenty that the media doesn’t cover, such as his various apologies to the young Swift, including the song he wrote for her to express his sincerity. Or his various charity contributions, which have been thrown under the rug. Yet the media practically exploded when they heard that he was to be married to Kim Kardashian (Kimye anyone?).

It is amazing that the media can paint a rapper such as Kanye West in such a poor light, while leaving a rapper like Eminem alone. As much as we all enjoy Eminem, he has repeatedly used gay slurs, discussed violent daydreams, and called out many others in a degrading, entertaining fashion.

Then there is the rap group N.W.A., which boldly titled a 1988 song, “F*** The Police,” and spit lyrics about killing cops. They are a talented group, but it was a controversial song, nonetheless.

Most recently,  Rick Ross spit the following lyrics on the song “U.O.E.N.O. ,” possibly alluding to rape. “Put Molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it.” And yet, the media barely batted an eye.

Controversial lyrics and shock value is part of the rap industry, and for better or worse, many artists have made a living off of being offensive (horrorcore rap). Instead of rapping about gun violence and sexual harassment, West manages to be a hub of confrontation without relying on offensive lyrics. That alone, puts him above the rest.

Perhaps looking deeper into Kanye’s music would help decipher what the artist is actually trying to say. In the song “Blood on the Leaves,” he takes a sample from the 1939 “Strange Fruit,” a song about the various atrocities committed against African-Americans, particularly  hangings (“There’s strange ‘fruit’ hanging on the poplar trees”) and laces it with undertones of modern day civil injustices toward African Americans . It’s an interesting juxtaposition, and it is deeper than just rapping about money, cars, etc., that dominate the rap genre.

“New Slaves” is off the critically acclaimed Yeezus album, and is truly the best song off the groundbreaking record. “My momma was raised in the era when/Clean water was reserved for the fairer skin,” opens the song as he begins to talk about racism. The hook hits, describing how Kanye would rather be considered a jerk and say what is on his mind, than hold his tongue and blindly follow the masses.

My favorite song is “Devil in a New Dress” in which he compares a girl to the Devil, and his nefarious thoughts about her. The great beat and production accent Kanye’s work perfectly in a solid show of lyricism. Lines like “I hit the Jamaican spot, at the bar, take a seat/I ordered the jerk, she said you are what you eat,” hit softly with a rare showcase of talent by Rick Ross.

To more than a casual observer, the true talent of Kanye’s production and rapping overshadows his disrespect, but many continue to dislike him without ever bothering to listen to his music. Because Kanye is who he is, his antics make headline news, while other artists who continually offend and write about much more controversial topics, don’t receive nearly the amount of scrutiny from the media.

Before you judge Kanye, think about all of the good and the bad , not one over the other. We all do boneheaded things from time to time, and  few of us apologize in retrospect.  Kanye may not be the kindest person, but he is also not a bad guy. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

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4 Comments on “Real Talk: The Media Assassination of Kanye West”

  1. Jordan Says:

    I’m partial to “I’m In It” and “Blood on the Leaves”, but as a whole “Yeezus” was one of the best albums in 2013. I’d listened to “Leaves” countless times before it hit me that the fruit weren’t really fruit. And it hit me like tank engine.I think it’s fair to assess people on their undeniably brash actions if you can take the good with the bad as well. That being said these public figures, like West, should be assessed for what they are. Musicians.


  2. thecatalyst2013 Says:

    Well, let’s give credit where it’s due – Kanye did not come up with the fruit metaphor – the original song “Strange Fruit” was written in the ’30s (by a teacher!) and made popular by Billie Holiday, alluded to the hangings. Kanye took the hook, the beat, and the concept, and sampled it over his own song. Which is fine, but the deep metaphorical aspects of the song was not an original Kanye idea.


    • Jordan Says:

      I am well aware. Kanye uses samples in almost all his songs. If I hear a song I usually assume he’s borrowed half of it from other artists. Kanye, though unoriginal in many rights, is the king of sampling. The very original sound he creates and feeling he can evoke using samples is unparalleled. The production involved with this is why I enjoy his music. His song with Jay Z, “Otis”, heavily features the song “Try a Little Tenderness”, and West and Jay Z are obviously paying respect to the original artist, Otis Redding, within the title. The reason this sampling, and others, are essential to West’s music is that it creates this juxtaposition of disparate sounds that is equally complementary.


  3. notkarlmarx Says:

    Kanye West’s Music > Everyone’s opinion


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