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Why do we hate Kanye?

October 26, 2009

Kanye West is one of the most talented and influential music artists of the past decade, as The College Dropout and Late Registration both went triple platinum, while Graduation went double platinum. Even West’s latest album, the polarizing 808’s and Heartbreaks reached number one on the charts. The question then, is why were people so quick to jump on the “Kanye’s Dead!” bandwagon last week when an unverified report claimed that the rapper had died in a car accident reminiscent of the 2002 one that the song “Through the Wire” is based off of?

Part of it may be that, for both better and worse, West has managed to hang onto the front pages of tabloids for much of his run. From the car accident to his mother’s bizarre 2007 post-plastic surgery death to the drunken Taylor Swift incident to the Spike Jonze-directed short film that features a drunk (again!) West’s demon stabbing itself, Kanye always seems to be up to something. Much of this is undoubtedly self publicizing, but on the other hand much of it is also not West’s fault.

Sure, the Taylor Swift incident was boorish and appalling, but, at the same time, he couldn’t do anything about his mother’s death and had the same initial reaction that many people do when tragedy hits them, turning to the bottle for comfort.

We are uncomfortable with Kanye because he is living out the same dramas that we do everyday on the stages where we expect perfection. It is not uncommon for the normal person to embarrass themselves, whether it is by innocently tripping down some stairs or saying something insulting while drinking. We don’t like to be reminded of this, though, while we are watching entertainment. Watching the 19-year-old accept her pop star is much more comforting than watching the rap star come to the stage and interrupt her speech.

Kanye may be inappropriate at times, but, intentionally or not, he is one of the biggest acts in music and deserves to be treated as such. If the rumors of West’s demise were true, the tabloids and music magazines would, at the very least, be much less interesting places.

Originally posted at On Popular Culture

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