It's no surprise that Kanye West has become known just as much for his rants, "ravings," and "meltdowns" as he has for his music. But, is it really fair to say that he's "lost it" because he revels in controversy? Eh, not exactly, because Kanye West has always been pretty outlandish and outspoken. Remember the "Touch the Sky" video where he mimicked Evel Knievel. Sure, Knievel, before he passed, and Kanye eventually made peace. But, the video was meant to grab your eye and say "nooooo, is this brother really doing this?!" In some ways, Kanye was a tamer version of Eminem in that they both pushed the envelope more often than not, to varying degrees of either disgust, acclaim, or indifference.
|They really are closer than you'd think.|
And like Eminem, Kanye West's mother issues had a pronounced effect on his music and personality. However, there is a noted difference between how they handled it. While Eminem also has battled mental illness, Eminem also rapped about killing his mother because of her neglect--and as a way to vent/deal with his feelings about her. Kanye, on the other hand, went through a deep depression, as noted on "Clique," after his mother, Donda West, died in surgery. Out of that deep depression, we received Kanye clearly not giving a damn about pleasing anyone but himself, furthering his goals (some of which happened to directly impact communities around him), and becoming "Yeezus." Oh, we also got MBDTF and 808s and Heartbreak (MBDTF is legendary and 808s, while meh at times, has its moments of brilliance).
His ego inflated to its current levels. He began designing overpriced clothing because he could and to give a middle finger to, well, a lot of people. He was more "vulgar" in his music. Hell, he even addresses this change--and his fans' cries about it--in "I Love Kanye" from TLOP, the same album which he calls Kim Kardashian West a "bitch" and says he had sex with Taylor Swift/furthered her relevance--which, to a degree, he has a point; we probably wouldn't have seen many more Taylor Swift rap battles without "I'ma let you finish." TLOP is also the album which he promoted, to a degree, through beef with Wiz Khalifa that involved talking about Wiz's kid (even though he later apologized, that's some foolishness you just don't do).
So, even he knows that he's not exactly that rapper that rapped about driving "Mayonnaise-colored Benz(es)" even as it all fell down. But, even within that inflated ego and "gross-out" factor, we got a Kanye that was, somehow, even more vulnerable and open about himself and flaws.
I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a psychiatrist. I'm just a dude who's lost his mom and has done music, some of which has, obviously, been influenced by Kanye. So, I'm saying this from just my perspective. Losing his mother, one of the people who kept him grounded (and some would argue "sane," but that's slightly pejorative"), in layman's terms, messed him up. There's another "-ed" I could've used, but I'm trying to keep it a bit more safe for work. But, through that messed-up event, Kanye also became a person people can relate to more, thus, in some ways, expanding his audience (even though he seems like he's losing his brain on the daily; hell, I even made a comparison to him and Jaden Smith's random-ass tweets/philosophical BS).
I know, I know. That's some crazy-ass, "you're click-baiting" sort of wildness. But, hear me out. Do I think that Kanye, at this point, is the GOAT? Hell, no. Do I think that he's overrating himself? Yes. Do I feel that his stans, if you will, are overrating everything he does? Yeah. But, do I feel that Kanye West is, even with his $2,000 hole-riddled sweaters (seriously, Yeezy. What the hell?), a vulnerable-ass dude who's more like the common man than his over-the-topness presents? To a degree.
I mean, who hasn't lost their marbles a bit when dealing with grief and loss? Who hasn't gained an inflated sense of self when dealing with tragedy to compensate for "the feels?" Who hasn't considered their children to be the greatest creations ever and his family to be the greatest thing while all others pale in comparison?
Now, I'm not excusing Kanye's behavior. He's been kind of an asshole--and not exactly always a Profound one, either (shameless plug). And some of the stuff he's done over the past couple weeks/months/years, there's not really much glossing over it. However, I kind of get it. And through that pseudo-understanding, I get Kanye's not lost. He's not the Savior of the World, either. He's just a man who's gone through some crazy-ass stuff, has dealt with it in a variety of ways, and is now finally starting to understand some of what's gone on.
Or maybe Kanye West is like the broad stroke egomaniacs we often see exhibited in most celebrities' interactions (at least if you let TMZ tell it. Don't let TMZ tell it. Eff TMZ, to be honest). I don't know. I don't have all the answers, 'Ye. I'm just a late-20s rapper-turned-writer who's opinionated and tries to base that opinion within facts and evidence and crap.
P.S.: I enjoyed TLOP; just wouldn't rank it as a classic. Sorry, Kanye.