As Usual, Kanye West Is Right About Everything

Kanye and North West photo via Kim Kardashian's Instagram

At last night’s Grammy awards, Kanye West proved something to everyone watching at home which, frankly, we all should have known anyway: He is right about everything all the time. But look, here’s the thing: Just as we can rely on Kanye to speak the truth on any number of very important topics—from George W. Bush’s failure to care about black people to Taylor Swift being good, but critically overrated—we can also rely on the fact that when some people hear those truths, they’ll speak out against Kanye for being a “jackass” and for “ranting.” And while on the one hand we can—and do—dismiss Kanye-naysayers as being short-sighted and on the wrong side of history, on the other hand, we think it’s worth taking a closer look at everything Kanye did and said at last night’s Grammy’s, just so we can take comfort in the fact that we are living in the time of Kanye.

First things first: Before the awards show even started, Kanye was speaking the truth on the red carpet, and putting Ryan Seacrest’s negging self in its place, which, by the way, is as nothing more than an accessory at these awards shows. Seacrest is no star. Anyway, Seacrest—who is one of the executive producer’s of Kim Kardashian’s various reality shows on E!—was talking with West and Kardashian about the various creative and business ventures with which West is involved, and said, “Attention deficit disorder is a good thing,” thus suggesting that West has a, let’s say, unfocused and unsettled mind. Ha ha? What a cool thing to suggest, Ryan Seacrest! That a man with undeniable talent and manifold interests has a mental disorder enabling him to get so much done. West’s straight-faced response was quick and perfect— “It’s also just called… thinking” —and his contempt for Seacrest was rightfully palpable, though West made it more comfortable for all present with a shrug at the end.

And then there were West’s actions during the show itself. Many people had predicted that Beyoncé was a shoe-in to win Album of the Year, but some joked that if she didn’t, Kanye would reprise his role as music awards show-disruptor extraordinaire. And, in fact, when Beck surprised everyone by winning the Album of the Year award for Morning Phase, Kanye did pop up on stage, though he quickly sat back down without saying anything. Everyone laughed, and that was that, right? Wrong!

After the awards show, Kanye sat down with E!’s post-show hosts and said:

[T]he Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We aren’t going to play with them no more. ‘Flawless.’ Beyoncé’s video. And Beck needs to respect artistry, he should have given his award to Beyoncé. At this point, we tired of it. What happens is, when you keep on diminishing art, and not respecting the craft, and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. We, as musicians, have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album, and they feel like it takes them to a different place. And then they do this promotional event, and they’ll run the music over somebody’s speech, the artist, because they want commercial advertising. We aren’t playing with them anymore. And by the way, I got my wife, my daughter, and I got my clothing line, so I’m not going to do nothing that would put my daughter at risk, but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s why I didn’t say anything tonight, but you all knew what it meant when ‘Ye stepped on that stage.

Now, of course, Kanye is already being criticized for being that “jackass” again, and for going on another “rant.” But this type of dismissal contains no small undercurrent of racism (there’s no shortage of people who are now using the word “ranting,” when in the past they would have used “uppity”), it also denies the simple fact that Kanye is speaking the truth. To pretend that Beck’s album (which, I’m a fan of!) had anywhere near the impact that Beyoncé’s did in the culture at large is absurd. And for anyone who wants to have an argument and pretend that the Grammys are awarded based on pure artistry, may I remind you that Iggy Azalea was the early favorite to win for Rap Album of the Year? (She didn’t win, but she was nominated? What.) It was Beyoncé’s album that made the biggest impact post-release, that spawned new cultural signifiers (what’s up surfbort), and that still has a ton of relevance more than a year after it was released. Plus, it’s worth noting that Beck also thought Beyoncé should win for Album of the Year, saying: “Even in a hundred years, I could never do what Beyoncé or Pharrell [do] … I don’t put it over what they did.”

At the end of the day, maybe it’s true that these awards don’t really matter. Beyoncé will still be Beyoncé, and no amount of Grammys (she did win a few others last night) will change that. But, of course, as Kanye knows, it’s not about the awards qua awards. These shows are representative of a certain type of industry success, and the idea that Beyoncé could be denied that stamp of approval is mind-boggling considering the things she’s accomplished. And for all the people who are inspired by both the album and Beyoncé herself, a loss like this signifies a lack of respect from the higher-ups, one which might not “mean” anything when it comes to record sales, but does indeed mean something when it comes to people believing that their choices matter. And so it’s important that Kanye speak some truth about this issue—not many other people do. And when people have talked about how “this world is bullshit,” they also got condemned for being disruptors. Because this world is bullshit. And it’s important for Kanye to call that out. Because who knows? Maybe someday people will listen.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know, I think what’s kind of tiresome about West (who I generally quite like) is this weird idea that Beyonce just objectively made the best record of the year, just as he apparently considered “Single Ladies” so objectively great that any other result than it winning some mostly-meaningless award is a sham. But in this case, it’s an award for album of the year. Five out of hundreds are nominated, and one of those will win. Is that the only way to legitimize an album that’s already wildly successful, acclaimed, and beloved? Is it really mind-boggling that Beyonce could be “denied” that stamp of success? I LOVE Beyonce, have all of her records, and I’d put the self-titled release around, at best, third of her five (FOUR! How is that album so slept-on? It’s SO much better than this one — more cohesive AND with better singles). Morning Phase isn’t a great album either, but like the Beyonce album, it’s above the pitiful mean that “Grammy for album of the year” represents. I don’t think it’s so bizarre that Grammy voters weren’t thinking about whether people stay “surfbort” when casting their ballots. And while West is obviously entitled to his opinion/response, there’s something weird and naive about getting so worked up about it — he sometimes sounds genuinely unaware that these awards are rooted in opinions, not some kind of mathematical equation that involves quantification of game-changing. It sounds, in other words, a little like poptimism run amok.

  2. West’s actions are not devoid of criticism. Of course he is not a “Jackass” but he definitely is a “hypocrite”. We both admit that the Grammy’s are not as important as the industry would have you believe, but it is insulting when they do not give credit to those that wholeheartedly deserve it. Then why, Mr. West, do you find courage to hop on stage when Beyoncé is snubbed, but not other “creatives”? Money. The same reason music is played to cut speeches short is the same motivation for Kanye’s actions. It can’t possibly be “creativity” because Kanye does not stand up for creativity across the board.
    Common and No I.D. were snubbed for Best Hip-Hop album. Common is his label mate and No I.D. taught the man how to produce. Eminem won (like he always does) well past his relevancy. Why didn’t Kanye fight for creativity then? Probably because Common is a pop star like Beyoncé.
    Where was Kanye’s diatribe when Kendrick Lamar was robbed of a Grammy last year? What are Kanye’s opinions on the Grammy’s not televising the Best Hip-Hop Performance and Album award, yet always having a Hip-Hop artist perform during the televised portion? You say that Kanye speaks truth, but these omissions are glaring? Are they not more true than Beyoncé over Beck?

    Finally, what does bum-rushing the stage confirm? It confirms the industry’s fears that hip-hop artists irrational and unprofessional. It also confirms that the industry is relevant, relevant enough to invoke such controversy. Again, you say that it is important Kanye speak this truth, what does it accomplish?
    It’s ironic that a man that continuously benefits from the industry wrote these telling words about it: “Think I give a damn about a grammy? Half of you critics can’t even stomach me, let alone stand me.”

    • Wasn’t that EMINEM s line ? He said so they could just to get me here so you can sit me next to BRITNEY SPEARS. CHRISTINA AGULERA better switch me chairs so I can sit next to CARSON DAILY & FRED DURST and hear them argue over who she gave head to first.

  3. Yeezy is GOD! A true artist in a world of pretenders…

    That being said fuck the grammys… no fuck all award shows, how can you judge art?

  4. Sounds like a lot of whining to me. Kanye is part and parcel of the commercial machine. Take this for instance: “Seacrest is no star. Anyway, Seacrest—who is one of the executive producer’s of Kim Kardashian’s various reality shows on E!” So I rather think he owe’s Seacrest and E network a debt of gratitude for putting him and his name in living rooms all across the country and increasing his celebrity status. No, Seacrest isn’t a star but he is a personality and an interviewer and that’s a part of the game, or sham that is the Grammys. Hey so the judges picked Beck instead of Beyonce, so what? To say something as stupid as: “And Beck needs to respect artistry, he should have given his award to Beyoncé. At this point, we tired of it. What happens is, when you keep on diminishing art, and not respecting the craft, and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration.” tells me a lot! No#1 he knows squat about Beck and his music which has always been extremely creative. And No#2 he assumes as Jesse wrote that (is this weird idea that Beyonce just objectively made the best record of the year) No Kanye is a sell out, he’s not right about everything, he’s just got a pipe line to the masses to spot what ever bull shit he feels like and have talked about. Okay, he’s wasted enough of my time for today. Cheers!

  5. Kanye West is not a pro. He can sell millions of records and buy fine works of art etc etc but he will always remain a classless amateur. Embarrassing your fellow “artists” is just not done. It’s not about speaking “the truth” because when all is said and done it’s only his opinion. If he had any class he’d be ashamed of himself for embarrassing Taylor Swift, Beck, or whoever else. Maybe because he drinks too much..?

  6. You’re right. Kanye was right in attacking Beck. He was right in accusing a multi-instrumental artist who writes and produces his own music (for the last 20+ years) of not knowing what true artistry is.

  7. “(there’s no shortage of people who are now using the word “ranting,” when in the past they would have used “uppity”)”

    I think Kanye often speaks truth, and often in the most puerile insulting manner possible, but regardless of that, fuck you for this, Iversen. You are consistently the worst but this is beyond the pale. How dare you try and turn a basic descriptor into a wolf-whistle just because you agree with the content of this, yes, rant.

  8. Beyonce’s music is bland and pointless. Her music has no cultural impact. Kanye’s music is a collage of sounds made by great people who preceded him. They are both frauds and most people don’t listen to their music. Keep believing most people care about them simply because a few people with no lives on Twitter talk about them. And “ranting” is now a racist term? What a joke of an article. I’m embarrassed for the writer.

  9. I am not a fan of Beyonce. That does not make me a racist, or stupid, or musically bereft. It means I have a different opinion, different musical tastes. Kanye West seems to think we should all be of one mind – his mind – and feel the same way or be moved in the same fashion as he. Music just doesn’t work that way.

    Kanye ruined a major moment in another artist’s life with his mean-spirited, insulting tirade after the Grammys. I have never seen another “artist” behave that way – none of us have. He does not deserve a pat on the back for his courage or insight, he deserves to be ignored. Shame on him. He disgraced himself.

    • Amen! People can have different musical tastes, but shame on the writer too. I’m embarrassed for her. I started reading this article expecting her to have written a satire or a piece of sarcasm. I’m so sorry to have been mistaken. To think that music can be looked at “objectively” – as though we should all value the same artists in the same pecking order is simply ignorant and a very poor excuse for journalism. And please don’t throw out the race card. That is a disgusting attempt to justify rude and unprofessional behavior. Behavior that has absolutely nothing to do with skin color.

  10. Beck made the best album of the year – hands down – and the Grammy voters acknowledged that. “Morning Phase,” in a good way, sounds like nothing else that was nominated in all of the show’s categories. That is because Beck is a true artist, a brilliant artist, in every sense of the word. Through his entire career, he has CREATED NEW SOUNDSCAPES that have, ironically, influenced many musical genres, including those of the thugs that bum-rushed him on the stage to steal his moment. I use the plural, thugs, because until Jay-Z and/or Beyonce (who laughed approvingly at the stunt from their seats) take action to acknowledge or distance themselves from the artistic assault that occurred Sunday night in their name, they will continue to be enablers of such behavior. If the Grammy’s want to consider themselves the highest honor in music, as the Oscars are to film, then they really should publicly censure the dude that bum-rushed a fellow artist on-stage all because he disagreed with the outcome. Dude looks and sounds like a fool, from what I can tell.

  11. If Beyonce’s career has been slandered by a supposed Grammy snub then I throw my hands up in the air and stop caring.

  12. I agree with all of you. He is a tool. This article is dribble and rediculous. The world according to Kanye. His baseless opinions. Beyoncé is an amazing entertainer. Amazing. Hard working, beautiful, successful…the list goes on & on…
    Beck played on every song, wrote the lyrics, and has done so since the beginning. He is an artist. He deserved the recognition just as Beyoncé has received for her contributions. Is the world only ok if Beyoncé wins it all? Kanye is a spoiled, narcissistic idiot who would gain more ground if he could hold a real conversation with valid, open points that weren’t one-sided. However he has proven himself incapable of that.
    But to read an article that heralds this egregious mound of shit is insulting to my eyes. What is sad I can never get this time back that it took to read it.
    Perhaps Kanye’s team is hiring an intern. I’m sure he could use another soldier.

  13. Ranting is now considered a racist term? I give up. Why such Bey fanning? Is it because she lives in Brooklyn? I think she will continue to live lavishly despite her record of the year loss. Beck played a mere dozen instruments on his album & somehow he stole the award.? Kanye West’s behavior is gross, a big, sore loser (not even his loss!) bully. Next year they should seat him in the back row or throw him out if he storms the stage. Idk uppity? I had to reread this article because I wasn’t certain I read it correctly. I did & I disagree with it. Kanye takes himself way too seriously. My father used to say: opinions are like assholes & everyone has one. I just expressed mine. Peace out.

  14. Whoever wrote this article is an idiot. So Kanye speaks the “truth?” Doesn’t she mean “Kanye says whatever is on mind? So? A child can say whatever is on his mind. Kanye is a talentless loudmouth with no class, which makes him perfect for today’s entertainment world; where pretty much all that matters is being someone who the media can write about.

  15. I woke up today and felt the urge to join mainstream America and see what all the fuss was about. After seeing what the ever humble kanye west had to say, I took to finding ways to support others that might see this as upsetting. It seems like your article defends his actions? To hear kanye say the Grammys need to respect “real musicians” is deplorable! Hello! Do you know that the word musician refers to musicianship? Whether Beyoncé deserved the award or not, kanye is an egomaniac that we seem to be allowing to be heard. There are musicians on the street corner worth more than kanye west

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