It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to, but I’m genuinely excited about the upcoming release of Kanye West’s new album.
I know Ye is a polarizing figure. I think a high number think his stuff is good, but I’ve encountered several who not only are not fans of his stuff–they seem to despise him as a person. Which is fine, I get it–dude has a big ego (and Bush recently called Ye’s rant at him the “lowest moment of his Presidency). But the non-fans tend to mask their dislike for Kanye the PERSON by dismissing Kanye the MUSICIAN. That ain’t right. As my man Marvin REAL LAKER FAN L once said, “I don’t care what anyone says man, the dude makes good music”. And it’s true. More specifically, dude is a lyrical genius. To quote another friend, “you can’t not love rap if you love words”.
Check out these lyrics from Ye, many of them have been my favorites for years, but some have recently taken on a whole new meaning.
There’s this line from Good Morning:
I’m like the fly Malcom X/buy any jean necessary
This is a clever pun. He takes the iconic phrase (by any means necessary) from an iconic Black political figure and twisted it as an ironic reference to his own love of gear.
Let’s check out this verse from the same song:
Look at the valedictorian scared of the future
While I hop in the Delorean
Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student
Some people graduate, but we still stupid
They tell you read this, eat this, don’t look around
Just peep this, preach us, teach us, Jesus
Okay, look up now, they done stole your streetness
This verse has it all–a reference to Back to the Future, a message of “don’t conform, fight the man”, and just generally, be like Rocky Balboa and “go for it”.
Now let’s look at his lighter stuff. This verse from Golddigger is, excuse the pun, GOLD:
18 years, 18 years
She got one of yo’ kids, got you for 18 years
I know somebody payin’ child support for one of his kids
His baby momma’s car crib is bigger than his
You will see him on TV, any given Sunday
Win the Superbowl and drive off in a Hyundai
She was supposed to buy ya shorty Tyco with ya money
She went to the doctor got lipo with ya money
She walkin’ around lookin’ like Michael with ya money
Shoulda’ got that insured, GEICO for ya moneeey(your money)
If you ain’t no punk holla’ we want pre-nup
WE WANT PRE-NUP!, yeah
It’s something that you need to have
‘Cause when she leave yo’ ass she gon’ leave with half
18 years, 18 years
And on her 18th birthday, he found out it wasn’t his?
To be honest, you have to have a basic understanding of US pop culture to fully get why Ye’s stuff is brilliant. “You will see him on TV, any given Sunday, win a superbowl drive off in a Hyundai” is my favorite line because 1: it just rhymes and flow oh-so-good. 2: it paints a hilarious picture of a star NFL player driving a crappy car because all his money has gone to his girl. And 3: The Any Given Sunday line doesn’t just reference Superbowls being on Sunday, but also the Al Pacino movie ANY GIVEN SUNDAY.
Then there’s the Tyco/Lypo/Michael bit. Which describes how the woman was supposed to spend dude’s money on electronics (Tyco), instead she spent it on plastic surgery (lypo), and ended up looking like Michael (Jackson).
The entire rhyme is just amazing, filled with pop culture references, hidden references, social commentary, and best of all, it’s just hilarious.
Now onto my two favorite lines…
Lauryn said her heart is in Zion, I wish her heart was still in rhymin’
Pretty self-explanatory. Ye talks about Lauryn Hill and her amazing solo album Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (she references Zion repeatedly throughout the album), but really, everyone won’t ever forget her days as a Fugee (when she was rhymin’).
And finally, this rhyme has struck a chord on so many levels. This is from Heard ‘Em Say, off Ye’s second album:
They say people in your life are seasons, and anything that happens is for a reason
This line hits me so much, because I need to learn to accept that, yes, people in your life are seasons–they’re ever changing. And if they come and go, it’s all for a reason.
I lost my best male and female friend in Hong Kong this year, both for reasons I may never understand. My old housemate, who’s my oldest friend in Hong Kong and have been like a sister to me, moved halfway across the world. I think about how, chances are, we’ll see each maybe once every 2-4 years, if that, from now on. And I get sad.
But I shouldn’t. Seasons change for a reason.