Kanye West almost pulled a Kanye at the Grammys by storming the stage, once again in honor of Beyonce. And while many rail against Kanye and his outspoken ideas regarding artistry, Ye as always has a point. It is easy to dismiss Kanye because a lot of people do not like his delivery. His brash style is off putting. But if you can move past the shock of his refusal to cooperate with polite society and think about what makes him so passionate in the first place, his style stands a second look.
Kanye is an art lover. And as he shared with the media post Grammys, he was never mad at Beck or Taylor Swift for that matter, he is mad at the symbolism that artist of high caliber do not get their due as he believes they should. There are plenty of arguments to be made about whether or not Beyonce should or should not have won album of the year. Beck demonstrated artistry by being the sole director of his project. And Beyonce forever changed music. Those things can both be true at the same time and they are, but Kanye’s general upset has less to do with the artist he wants to steal the spotlight from and more to do with is artistic moral compass.
Yeezy believes in the power of being a game changer and he prides himself on being a tastemaker. Over the summer when Kanye joined a Cannes Film Festival panel to discuss all things innovation and excellence, he divulged about his taste preferences and what motivates him on his quest to heal the world through creativity and premium design.
“Fashion is so important because they are trained thinkers of taste. The reason I have been trying to build relationships in that world is that … celebrity is the highest form of communication…we are like walking networks or TV shows or brands. You don’t think good taste, and I think bad taste is vulgar — it’s like cursing. I believe the world can be saved by design because, what is the most vulgar thing someone could do? Kill someone, so good taste is the opposite of that.”
This is the same man that feels compelled to rush the stage for his artistic beliefs because to him, art is life and death. Good taste is at the center of Kanye’s stage hopping and it is hard to argue that Beyonce not winning album of the year was in good taste. Kanye is just one of the only people willing to share that idea in the moment, not later when the impact of his outrage for the love of art might soon cool giving in to rationale and not wanting to ruffle fears for fear of financial backlash.
Kanye has always been ahead of the curve, and while his hype delivery can at times detract from the import of his message, his comments about taste are rather poignant and always timely. Kanye encourages us all to think about the way in which our tastes are being shaped by what we consume. And he wants us to delve deeper when exploring strategies that allow us to sharpen our skills and become well versed in what we should expect from art and culture and how to recognize when we are not being honored the way we should.
Taste is shaped by exposure and experience. So while Kanye may not be the man you look to as a role model in the traditional sense, he does move cultural conversations forward, especially as it relates to the importance of Black artist and paying homage to the movements that make for American culture at large. While some may disagree, his definite approach is actually an asset. All of his bold assertions heighten the anticipation for his follow up statements and reaffirms his own faith in the power of his ideas. But beyond his tactics, Ye’s ability to present amazing holistic artistic movements, be it his performance art of being a provocateur, his sonic power, and his aspirational fashion dreams, all place him a cut above the rest. This has a jarring effect on many.
It was bold for Kanye to suggest that Beck, a prolific artist respect artistry and give his award to Beyonce. But he is one of the few artists to bring these talking points forward and lead by example. It only adds to the allure of his talent and star power that he is nothing if not consistent. Having strong ideas about what is artistically valid will always be subjective. However, the practice of defining your own value system in relation to art is a great way to become someone that dictates taste for many. It takes a standout individual to be self assured and assertive enough to endorse their own likes or dislikes against popular opinion. Yet, in the simplest form it might be the best definition for innovation. And we get to see Kanye’s artistic philosophy form in real time, as he wrestles with things that disturb his world view and go against his own self determined taste accolades system.
So is Kanye the king of the Bey Hive? Maybe. But he certainly is innovative. With a laundry list of profound statements and equally exciting ideas, it’s also safe to say his actions speak louder than his rants. Though Yeezy may not always get the outcome he desires for Beyonce and others, the advancements he has made by following the principles of art position him as a master craftsman who continues pioneering music, style and performance. People may be reluctant to admit their admiration for him. And even more are happy to share their annoyance, but aside from his unorthodox delivery, one thing remains true– He is dictating the conversation and forcing you to ask yourself, are you interested in the best? Is your taste level even close to his waist level?