Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Reflections on Kanye

Although it would be a bit Kanye-esque to say this entry is a result of popular demand - a couple people inquired as to the quintessential health of the QLE so I thought I would check in with some thoughts on my experience at the Glow In The Dark Tour last night.

There were a variety of reactions when I told people I was going to the show. Most laughed, a few were jealous, and a surprising number of
people said: Kayne, oh, I can't stand him, he is soooo arrogant (conceited, egotistical, cocky, etc.)! This struck me as slightly ridiculous for two reasons:
1. Yeah he is, he's one of the most famous pop stars of his era. And admit it, you love or have loved his music. It has played at your favorite parties, been on your workout mix or has bumped in your car.
2. Who gives a shit? I am not going to a massive arena pop show to see someone up there be self deprecating and humble. I want the guy to go nuts and put on a visual-musical spectacle worthy of my time and money, and I would contend a large ego is necessary for that!

This show was huge - almost 5 hours of music from some of the best pop acts out there - N.E.R.D., Lupe, Rhianna and, of course, Kanye. This is the first arena pop show I have been to since TLC, Mary J Blige and Bobby Brown (Humpin' Around) in '92. Combine that with the fact that I was the oldest person in Sec. 114 without a kid in tow, and I was a little self conscious in the beginning.

Is it really cool to go nuts, jump around and pound out some white guy fist pumps to radio-ready pop music? You bet your sweet ass, and I had a great time doing it, grooving to Lupe, bouncing with N.E.R.D., singing um breELLA, ELLA, ELLA, EA, EA and throwing my diamonds in the sky, because it's obvious I felt the vibe.

After an almost 90 minute set in which I imagine he played 20 songs, the show appeared to be over - the house lights even started to come up - but Kanye had other plans. He took the moment to go on a pretty impressive rant - against critics, against media (kind of) and in favor of art, musical expression and having a well developed love for ones self and what they do. The guy likes himself, he knows we like him, and he likes it. Granted, interspersed among the rant were hints at schizophrenia, some name calling and some non-linear logic, but overall it was pretty solid and entertaining.

Ultimately, Kanye asks, what's so wrong with having high self esteem, to liking ones self and what they do? It reminds me of Kobe Bryant. People love to hate Kobe, they call him arrogant, conceited, etc. But think about it this way - it feels good to be good at something. It feels even better to be better than others at something. Imagine if you were better than all 6 Billion people on Earth... I give the guy a pass on feeling good about that.

So, was the show life changing and analogous to a James Joyce novel as Luciana Lopez suggested in her pre-show drubbing of Kanye? Nah, but as my Uncle would say, it was significantly better than a sharp stick in the eye. Equal parts Vegas style stage show (yes, Kanye did some acting), Disney ride and mega-pop tour, it was an amazing time had by all, great music and a welcome change from the hipster asshole crowd who take themselves and music oh so seriously.

An interesting post script - Luciana (the pop critic for the Oregonian) apparently has a bit of a hubris problem as well. Check out her review in today's paper where she writes (and seems to believe) that Kanye's rant about media and all the haters in the world was directed solely toward her. It's clear she has the John Canzano syndrome, but we can get into that later...

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