I’m a dreamer. I have a ton of ideas. I want to create things that everybody can enjoy and I’ve never listened to my haters, because my parents raised me to believe in myself. Coming from me, that all sounds reasonable, but put Kanye West’s name on those words and suddenly they translate as arrogance and narcissism. There’s a reason for this. It’s like the old, cliché “tip of the iceberg” analogy. He doesn’t share the other 90% of his thoughts because people have a hard time digesting what’s above the surface as it is. But to understand Kanye, you have to look at the big picture. Here are my thoughts on the most misunderstood iceberg in pop culture, and why he is the ultimate go-getter.
Kanye’s sixth studio album, Yeezus, is his war cry. It’s the sound of someone who’s not afraid to challenge himself. When I wake up to start work at 4:30am, I can count on a musical shot of espresso like “Black Skinhead” to stimulate me. This isn’t because I need to hear tribal-esque drums thundering from my speakers in order to get out of bed (although they do sound pretty badass), it’s because I want to feel unstoppable when I look in the mirror and put on my suit. “I’m aware I’m a wolf!” he snaps in the second verse. The electrifying self-confidence from a man who has taken home 21 Grammys and is still hungry serves as a reminder for me, each day, to sprint through the finish line.
Yeezus isn’t about Kanye being God, it’s about Kanye being a god, an icon. Although a biblical juxtaposition of him dying in the car crash and being born again as a rap god would make for a good read, it’s much simpler than that. It’s common for artists to compare their stature to godliness, kingliness, or holiness—think Jay-Z pulling Jayhova/Hov from Jehova, or Michael Jackson’s King of Pop. In this culture, we either worship ‘gods,’ or we work hard to become one, which is every go-getter’s dream. Another bonus for Kanye is the idea that gods don’t have to answer to anybody but themselves, a topic that I’ll get to later. But for now, we’ll focus on this idea of challenging yourself to be your best self.
Be your own biggest fan—that’s Kanye’s message. The media’s attempt to dismiss his confidence for laughable arrogance is relentless, but the “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” rapper’s success inarguably comes from persistently believing in himself, despite what anyone says. When society told him to go to college, he dropped out to chase his dreams. When the fashion industry told him to stay out, he fought back, proving them wrong with his recent Adidas partnership. Hell, it wasn’t until his jaw was wired shut after an accident that he really showed his rap skills. We need Ye’s perseverance to remind us of our self worth. We need an “All Falls Down” when we bury our identities in a sea of societal expectations, and a “Stronger” to hoist us back up. We all deserve to believe in ourselves.
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