I was highly critical of West this year, because I respect him enough to expect a lot. And also because to laugh at Kanye is to laugh with Kanye. He's in on the joke — to an extent, at least. He knows that by causing an outburst (you may prefer the word "rant" or the phrase "throw a temper tantrum"), he will get attention. He's a bit of a brat, really. He knew that the shit he tweeted to Jimmy Kimmel in response to Kimmel's parody was funny (he said as much to Kimmel's face). Though he admitted that he doesn't always present his message in the best manner in his instant classic Power 105 interview, it behooves him to be a live wire and he knows it.
It can be cathartic to watch someone wrestle with his id so elaborately. It was for me, certainly, when I spent a few weeks reading and listening to every interview of his I could for a collage essay summarizing Kanye's thoughts on himself. I came out admiring his method of self-love. It played a huge role in making him one of the most successful, listened-to men on the planet. We can laugh at the particularities (really, laugh away, shit is joyous), but know that Kanye's laugh is louder even when he doesn't appear to be.
Kanye says shit about his celebrity that celebrities just don't say (for fear of revealing their narcissism). People listen to him because you never know what is going to come out of his mouth or how. Could be a lucid comparison of how racism felt before he was a famous millionaire versus now...or a seemingly dead-serious plea to get Kim Kardashian a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Kanye West provides a display of extreme human behavior nearly constantly. Even when he's at his most subdued, sitting on his hands and playing nice for an hour on daytime TV with his mother-in-law-to-be, he's bizarre and moving at his own vibration. He dares to live more boldly than most. His perpetual performance is unparalleled. His interviews this year were his true hits, bigger than anything off Yeezus, at least. He is the most modern of modern celebrities, agonizingly self-conscious and completely up his own ass, insightful and ridiculous, right and so so wrong (remember when he called 808s and Heartbreak "the first, like, black new wave album"?). "Every time I talk, it is a crack in the matrix," he said this year to a Los Angeles radio station, and with that one sentence, he encompassed all of the qualities I just listed. Seems like more of a reinforcement of the matrix than anything.
Though he complains of being vexed by fame, it clearly enlivens him. He appears to be more alive, more engaged, more devoted to the moment than just about any of his peers.
Sorry Miley, this is how you do strategic hot mess (even if Ye is too volatile to convincingly pull off the strategy all of the time). Let him never, ever, ever stop showing up and sharing with us his incredibly complicated opinion of himself.
So one last time in 2013, all together now:
[Image via Getty]
More Gawker heroes: Ken Layne on Pope Francis, Hamilton Nolan on Subway Brie Man, Cord Jefferson on Vanessa Van Dyke, Rich Juzwiak on Kanye West, Camille Dodero on Antoinette Tuff, J.K. Trotter on Erik Wemple, Adam Weinstein on Alice Munro, Taylor Berman on Anthony Graves, Beejoli Shah on Shia LaBeouf, Caity Weaver on Beyoncé Selfie Perfect Teen, Sam Biddle on Josh Tetrick, Lacey Donohue on Wendy Davis, Tom Scocca on Ai Weiwei, Max Read on @Dril, and John Cook on Rob Ford.