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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

5 Times Kanye West Was More "Brilliant" than "Madman"

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 9:36 AM

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As we all know, Kanye West is — generally speaking — a riot of hilarity and jumbled, often-surreal sentences. After working with him for her latest album, Rebel Heart, Madonna just attempted to describe him in this month's Rolling Stone cover story: "It's really hard to describe Kanye in one sentence," Her Madgesty admits. "He's a brilliant madman. He can't help himself. Like, he doesn't have the same filters other people have ... but he also has brilliant ideas, if you can get him to pay attention long enough ... he's a beautiful mess. I love him." 

Here, then, are five occasions when Kanye paid attention for long enough, and consequently said or did something brilliant.

1. Reinventing Communism at Oxford University 
Despite all his flash and fashion and pomp and preening, Kanye West knows that money isn't everything. No, really. Mr. "Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on" spoke in Oxford, England this week and told a gathering of 350 University students: "People think we no longer have racism. What about elitism? What about classism? There should never be a $5,000 shirt. You know what should cost $5,000? A car. And you know who should be making that car? The guy who is making a $500,000 car. They should be doing things for the people. They should be making things for the people.” That's quite a leap from that time he Tweeted: "I specifically ordered persian rugs with cherub imagery!!! What do I have to do to get a simple persian rug with cherub imagery uuuuugh." Proud of you, Yeezy.

2. "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People"
Still the single greatest thing that has ever happened on live television:

3. Charitable Work
Yes, he's the idiot that showed up to Occupy Wall Street demonstrations wearing hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry and designer gear, and yes, his own foundation, set up with the intention of reducing High School drop-out rates, closed mysteriously in 2011, but he's also given his support and/or money to a long list of charities over the years (including, according to LookToThe Oxfam, Red Cross, Stand Up to Cancer, Habitat For Humanity and many more). More recently, before the birth of his daughter, Kanye and wife Kim Kardashian asked that, instead of baby gifts, well-wishers send money to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The Hospital later informed TMZ, "Funds donated on behalf of Kardashian and West will be directed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Fund which will help care for the most critically ill babies and their families." Nice.

4. Articulating the Ubiquity of Racism Better Than Anyone
When it comes to describing the all-pervasiveness of racism at every class level, Kanye West has been breaking that shit down artfully and with maximum impact, for his entire career. From the jaw-dropping "Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe" line from 2004's "All Falls Down", to the entirety of 2013's "New Slaves", with the impossible to forget: "You see it's broke nigga racism/ That's that "Don't touch anything in the store"/ And it's rich nigga racism/ That's that "Come in, please buy more"/ "What you want, a Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain?/ All you blacks want all the same things." It's brilliant shit like this that forces us to forgive him when he says things like "I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am, undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period."

5. Understanding the Importance of Reclaiming Language
When Kanye guest-edited the August/ September 2007 issue of Complex magazine, America was in the middle of multiple discussions about the n-word, thanks to the fact that Seinfeld comedian Michael Richards had just used the slur onstage, directed at unruly audience members. Soon after, prompted by the incident, fellow comedian Paul Mooney told several outlets, including CNN, that he was cleaning up his act: "I am no longer going to use the n-word," Mooney announced. "Instead of saying 'What's up my nigga,' say 'What's up my Michael Richards.'" Ye used his issue of Complex to make his feelings on the matter crystal clear: "No white man is gonna tell me when or when not to say 'nigga.' Or none of my peers for that matter." You tell 'em, Mr. West!

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Rae Alexandra


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