Sunday, October 16, 2005
You may have heard of Kanye West because of his 10 Grammy nominations or because of his controverial opinions on Hurricane Katrina. Regardless, he's become something else in my mind, one of the top five greatest rappers of all time. He's not rapping about women and cars. He's not another run-of-the-mill gangsta/thug. He's rapping about poverty, homosexuality, God, drugs (but not in the Snoop Dogg way) and numerous other important social issues.
Do I agree with every word out of his mouth? No. But that doesn't mean I think he's unimportant. We need more public figures like Kanye West. Not just because he's supremely talented. Also because he actually stands for something.
Here's a sampling of two Kanye songs and an interview piece via Wikipedia:
"Before you ask me to go get a job today/ Can I at least get a raise on the minimum wage/ And I know the government administered AIDS"
"How we stop the Black Panthers?/Ronald Reagan cooked up an answer" ... "Who gave Saddam anthrax?/ George Bush got the answers."
In an MTV interview, he discussed his frustration with the way homosexuals are treated in the USA: "Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I [wanted to just] come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, 'Yo, stop it.'" GLAAD recognized him for his comments and his leadership in regards to tolerance.
Of course, the most controversy came from the live benefit concert for Katrina victims. Here's how Wikipedia describes it:
During a benefit concert for Hurricanes Katrina relief on NBC, Kanye West was a featured speaker. When he was presenting, West deviated from the prepared script: "I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for food.' And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!"
Mike Myers, whom Kanye was paired with to present, spoke next and attempted to regain control of the script. Once it was Kanye's turn to speak again, he simply said, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."
Although the camera quickly cut away, West's comments still reached the US East Coast in the live news-feed, but were censored by the network when the concert was re-broadcast on the West Coast three hours later.
If you've seen the preview for the upcoming movie Jarhead (which looks fantastic), you've heard one of the three greatest raps songs of all-time, "Jesus Walks." The song topped out at No. 11 on the US Hot 100 in 2004.
Here is a link to the full lyrics. It doesn't remotely do the song justice, but you get the idea. WARNING: The lyrics may be offensive to some.
Here's a sample:
God show me the way because the Devil trying to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me)
The only thing that that I pray is that me feet don't fail me now
And I don't think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs
(Jesus Walks with me)
I want to talk to God but I'm afraid because we ain't spoke in so long
To the hustlas, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(jesus walks with them)
To the victims of Welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah
(jesus walks with them)
Now hear ye hear ye want to see Thee more clearly
I know he hear me when my feet get weary
Cuz we're the almost nearly extinct
We rappers are role models we rap we don't think
I ain't here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way yall need Jesus
So here go my single dog radio needs this
They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played Huh?
Well let this take away from my spins
Which will probably take away from my ends
Then I hope this take away from my sins
And bring the day that I'm dreaming about
Next time I'm in the club everybody screaming out