Many times you’ll see newly rich folk, athletes and celebrities hanging around with the people they came up with. Some times, this crew is a scraggly-ass, disreputable lot who put you in mind of those embarrassing cousins who have three cars up on blocks in the front yard and storm into political discussions after a 12-pack of Natural Light to set everyone straight on foreign policy (“Kill ’em all and let God do the sorting.”) Many times we wonder, “Why?”
Why? Because such people keep your head on straight, remind you of where you come from and, even though they’ll constantly “borrow” money from a well-off relative, they’ll also tell that relative if he’s got a booger on his face or if he looks like a jackass in those skinny jeans.
Kanye West apparently has no such people in his life anymore.
I don’t know if you caught last night’s performance on Saturday Night Live or if you’ve heard any of his most recent album, on which he’s abandoned the extremely successful art of sampling other people’s music and hollering over that background and decided he’s a singer.
When “singing,” Kanye West looks and sounds like a tone-deaf 14-year-old boy who’s just had his heart broken and is stumbling around the Taco Bell parking lot unleashing his deep thoughts in “song.” The end result makes Bi Markie’s “You Say He’s Just a Friend” sound like opera.
It’s no coincidencce that may hip-hop acts keep a lot of old friends around and often include lyrics about conniving new people scheming for their money–especially ladies. After last night’s performance on SNL, one thing is clear. Kanye West doesn’t have any friends. If Kanye West had friends, they wouldn’t have let him do that in public.
And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this sort of exercise from Kanye only came out after the death of his mother. The two were obviously close. Her loss a couple years back was hard on him. But I bet you a dollar-fitty that if Kanye had run these songs by her, she would have done one of those mama tricks where she made you feel OK with yourself while making it clear this was a very bad idea. “That’s nice, baby. But you’re doing so well with your rapping. I really like your rapping. Maybe you should call them Cold Play fellas up again. Now, your cousin Harry. That boy had a voice like an angel. Voice like an angel. Our side of the family was never lucky in that department and his mama let me forget it, but look who’s working at Subway and singing in the shower and look who’s packing concert rooms across the country. That’s right. My baby!”
I want to like Kanye. His last two albums had quite a bit of good stuff on them–even if his lyrics veered off into the downright stupid from time to time. And one of his other appearances on SNL, in which he made fun of his own overblown ego, was funny. But the tight jeans and goofy-ass sunglasses just have to go — especially when paired with a backdrop like the one used last night, featuring as it did late 80s era animation of dancing women and, for some inexplicable reason, Elroy from the Jetsons. That backdrop, the outfit, the singing, his references to going to deep space or being from Mars or whatever the hell … it made me think one thing:
Kanye West is going to be our next Michael Jackson.