Notorious Megalomaniac, Kanye West, Made A Whole Lot Of Damn Sense On Kimmel Last Night
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Notorious Megalomaniac, Kanye West, Made A Whole Lot Of Damn Sense On Kimmel Last Night

By Joanna Robinson | Videos | October 10, 2013 | Comments ()


I had some other descriptors in that headline about Kanye West. Descriptors carefully chosen to get your attention and invite you all to snicker along with me at this man who has said so many jaw-droppingly unbelievable things. But in light of the nature of this phenomenal interview Kanye West gave Jimmy Kimmel last night (and Kimmel’s damning indictment of “click through” internet headlines), I dropped them. But “megalomaniac?” That stays. Because that’s just accurate.

In the wake of a highly visible and self-described “high school” spat between Kimmel and West, Kanye appeared on Kimmel’s show to clear the air and to talk about the nature of celebrity, materialism, his hurt feelings and our nasty tabloid culture. I’m not a Kanye fan, not by a long shot. I’m not eager to defend him when he’s said so many eye-roll worthy things. But here’s what I will say about this interview. It felt earnest and passionate and vulnerable (while retaining that trademark megalomania). How often can you say that about a late night interview? Hell, how often can you say that about any celebrity interview? This is my favorite part:

I can go and let out everything I feel about every single bogus weekly cover. Every single bogus skit. Every single rumor in barber shop. Every thing that people feel it’s okay to treat celebrities like zoo animals or act like what they’re saying isn’t that serious or their life isn’t that serious or their dreams aren’t that serious…So when I can come on here I can laugh and I can joke and I can say a skit and everyone can say ‘okay we love Kanye’ or ‘we think his baby’s cute’ or whatever.

What it boils down to, this whole rambling interview, is the question of what, exactly, celebrities owe us. If we take Kanye’s metaphor of animals in a zoo, then, of course, on this site, Anna Kendrick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jennifer Lawrence are three of the all-time greats. They are the cuddliest, most excitable penguins. Every slip and fall, every adorable waddle delights us. And there’s nothing wrong with that. With liking penguins. Kanye West, on the other hand. Well he’s a sh*t-flinger. No one likes a sh*t-flinger, right? But is it his job to make us like him? To always know how to say the right thing? Presumably his job is to create great music. (Your mileage may vary.) What else does he owe us?

So when he says the following…


…yes I sort of gasp a little. Did he really just call himself a creative genius?!? The sh*t just got flung. He’s not supposed to do that. He’s supposed to look humble and “aw shucks” at his great fortune so we don’t resent his success. That’s his job, isn’t it? Well no, it’s not. He knows it’s the wrong thing to say. And he says it anyway. Because his commitment to the truth and being true to himself is more important than his like-ability. And that’s rare. That’s brave. Who among us can say the same? I urge you to watch the whole interview. As I mentioned above, that kind of raw honesty is almost poignant and should be celebrated.

But I can admire the honesty and still not really like the man, right? He may be true to himself but it’s a self I don’t really enjoy that much. I mean, he doesn’t really seem to care if I like him, so why should I?


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    i once went to a Grammy something or other here in Chicago where they honored Chicago sons Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick, Joe Shanahan who founded the Metro, and Kanye West. he gave a speech, and before that speech, i thought that while i love (FUCKING LOVE) his production work, he is a completely self-absorbed cocky asshole. after the speech, i still thought the same way, but now i felt it in the way that "he is all that, but goddamn, he knows he is that, and is honest about it".

    on top of that, though having just received an award just for being awesome or promoting Chicago, his speech was essentially Yeah, I am the Greatest, but i am the Greatest because of No I.D. and all these other mentors he had growing up. He basically called himself a giant standing on the shoulders of other giants.

    so ever since then, i've always felt for all his eye-rolling nonsense (and he's got miles of it), it is the most sincere and well-meant eye-rolling nonsense

  • Crystal O.

    It's hard out here for a Kanye fan. I've been on Team Kanye since College Dropout, and let me tell ya it has been ROUGH, which is why I'm glad to see that people are starting to realize that the guy honestly means no harm. Bottom line: He's a terribly inarticulate egomaniac that truly cares about making good music and it shows. (Yes, I'm totally bias, but you cannot tell me My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is not a damn good album.)

    What angers me the most is the amount of crap he STILL gets for the TSwift incident. He interrupted an MTV awards show. He apologized several times for being an asshole. He did not beat a woman and continue to give interviews about how people should get over it.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    The only negative here is that his interruption helped vault her into the spotlight and make everyone feel sorry for her. She then used that new found fame and sympathy to make album after album of the same damn songs and became one of the most successful artists in music. With that success, came the tabloid fame and the frequent discussions of her "dating life", including being the Twilight wolf's beard. Then came the endorsements. So, I guess I blame Kanye for why I had to watch a Taylor Swift Diet Coke commercial before seeing Don Jon the other night.

    My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was amazing, though.

  • Yossarian

    The thing that is fascinating about Kanye West is that he is probably responding in a completely rational, understandable way to the insanity of celebrity worship and fascination and hatred. You people keep trying to diagnose him but take a step back and look at the environment.

    He is a creative genius. He started out behind the scenes producing hits for other artists and being told that's where he belonged, he'd never be a performer. His own career came much later. And it may not be your cup of tea but pretty much everything he makes has been hugely successfully as well as widely critically acclaimed. And he's made a LOT of money and gotten a LOT of attention.

    So what is the appropriate response to that? Why is humility expected? Why is moderation expected? Virtually none of the environmental inputs here are moderate. He makes millions of dollars a year, people love his music, people are fascinated by him, people are constantly trying to make money off him, to exploit him, people mock him for being stupid or saying the wrong things, comedians make jokes about him, the internet makes fun of him, his name drives page views and ad sales, rapping about luxury cars and clothes is free advertising, he gets awards for his art, he gets attention and publicity that fuels his success but also fuels the fire threatening to consume him, the irrational hatred and negativity that is the unavoidable other side of the coin in our celebrity worship. He is aware of all of this. He honestly cares about making good art and about how people see him. So how should he respond?

    I used to listen to the things Kanye says and shake my head and assume it was just a lack of self awareness, an inability to think before talking, a childish need to be the center of attention. I don't think so anymore. His lyrics betray a level of self awareness that is surprising. And sometimes, when you get passed the silliness and the ego of the things he says publicly you can see it, too. It's not a perfect self awareness. He's still very flawed and insecure and narcissistic. But it is insightful and he is trying to be honest, sometimes.

    Maybe JGL and Jennifer Lawrence are better equipped at dealing with it. Maybe they are also catering to a different audience. A smaller one, for one thing, and a more refined one. Maybe Bono and Mick Jagger are better at being superstars, better at hiding the absurdity and insanity of it all, better at avoiding the backlash, luckier to avoid much of the internet age. Maybe Brittney Spears and Miley are worse at dealing the contradictions and trying to express frustration with the limitations and paradoxes. Maybe Dave Chappelle had to sacrifice his career and stop doing what he loved to avoid being consumed by it. Maybe it's the culture, not the individuals, that is messed up.

    But instead of getting irrationally angry or offended at some crazy thing Kanye said- because that's the easy response, to treat it like a zoo exhibit- I think there's more to be gained by observing Kanye in the wild, considering the environmental pressures and the way he is adapting.

    Or, I mean, you could always just ignore it. That's fine, too. But why point and laugh and make faces? Why is Kanye the weird one? Why does Kimmel get credit for taking the high road just because he doesn't care and gives us what we expect?

    [edit- To be clear, I think Joanna and many of the commenters here are actually being very sympathetic and measured in their responses. This was more about me going off an a tangent about something, like I do.]

  • JenVegas

    "Never think that I'm not from Chicago for a second." I kinda love that.

  • Blake

    Couldn't that quote in the header photo apply to either Kimmel or Kanye?

  • John W

    You just did a post on a guy you admitted to not really liking so in my opinion he is a genius. Just like Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, the Kardashian clan, etc. All these celebrities and "famous" people who get us all to pay attention to them every time they step out of there domiciles are geniuses.

  • SchmidtUltra

    What the hell did I just watch?

  • Theron

    The Gay Fish South Park episode still rings true today.

  • King Push

    it wasn't funny five years ago, it's still painfully unfunny today. you know, like most of the shit that parker and stone try to pass off as "satire".

  • Kayne ABSOLUTELY cares whether you like him or not.

    If he didn't, he wouldn't have flipped his shit over the original Kimmel sketch in the first place.

  • DenG

    Yes. I haven't met a person yet who doesn't care about others' reactions especially if a reaction is what you need, don't say it doesn't matter. Social mavericks do whatever it takes to be noticed.

  • adam
  • fluff_fluff

    Shit-stirring from a Kanye apologist: I wish JGL would maybe take a few notes from Kanye and stop trying so desperately hard to make everyone like him/maybe stop making his Charmingly Wry Eyebrows face for long enough to give his forehead muscles a nice rest.

  • Ruthie O

    Holy crap. I thought I was the only one to feel that way about JGL's eyebrows. Thank you.

  • flibbertygibbert

    I don't think Kanye needs to be "grateful" to all the white kids who buy his records. sure he made a bunch of money, but that doesn't mean he has to be "grateful" about it.

  • kirbyjay

    and why not? If all those white kids didn't buy his product he wouldn't have anything to not be grateful for.
    Celebrities get so caught up in their loss of privacy that they blame everyone else, the paps, the writers, the fans..... If these "stars" are sick of the notoriety, why don't they just stop making movies or music or playing sports and just go away?
    It's the price you pay.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    I disagree. Paying $10 for someone's CD or to see a movie gives you exactly that, a CD or a movie. It doesn't give you the right to veer in on their personal life or to tell them how they should behave.

  • Yocean

    Dammit. I think I respect Kanye, though learning some gratitude for his fortune etc would help.

  • I tend to act in real life the same way I do on here and on the Internet in general. There is nothing I've ever said here or elsewhere that I either haven't said or wouldn't say in real life to actual people standing in front of me. (Although I do tend to make less dick jokes if I'm in say, church.)

    Pursuant to that though, I've experienced something somewhat similar to what Kanye talks about, on a massively diminished, severely localized, infinitely tinier scale. You speak your mind without fear or favor and it doesn't always go well for you. Because here's the 'Catch 22' of that mindset: "I mean, he doesn’t really seem to care if I like him, so why should I?" Once people realize that you're going to tell them what you think without worrying overmuch about who gets offended by it, a lot of the time, they return the favor. And sometimes what they think is 'You know what, you're kind of a dick while at the same time not being nearly as clever as you think are.' And sometimes they're right.

  • emmalita

    I feel like one of the pertinent differences between you and Kanye is that you generally keep the thoughts you share in the same solar system as the topic. I suspect, though I may be wrong, that you don't go on twitter and rant about the person who just called you a dick.

  • That's mostly because I'm not on Twitter. It may also be because I retain enough self-awareness most of the time to realize that yeah, I am kind of a dick sometimes.

  • adam

    Self-loathing is a major theme of Kanye's work.

  • JustOP

    What a fantastic interview. I don't have an issue with Kanye calling himself a genius. The vast majority of critics agree. Kanye may say some crazy shit, but at least when he says things we know he's being honest and true to himself.

    I also think he makes a lot of valid points against the media.

  • kirbyjay

    I don't like his music, but so what, there are plenty of people that I won't listen to, and I'm not going to debate his "creative genius" comment, though I did almost choke in my soup, and I think most of the shit he spouts is self-serving and somewhat certifiable but I don't have to listen to him, or watch him, or read about him so I don't really care, BUT, I think that stunt with Swifty at the Whatever Music Awards was one of the meanest, rudest, detestable things one "artist" can do to another. I know Pajibans are on a "we don't like Taylor Swift" phase but I never cared about her so this isn't about me being a fan. It was still nasty, nasty, nasty.

  • Yossarian

    Oh, spare me. It was the MTV Music awards. Something no one gives a shit about beyond the marketing opportunities and PR points. It may have been a little bit surprising and a little bit embarrassing for her in the moment but that was the best thing that could possibly happen to Taylor Swift, MTV, Beyonce, the audience, the media, the internet-- basically the only person who got the raw end of the deal was Kanye (not that he's blameless or anything).

    Swift got vaulted to a higher rung of America's Sweethearness (she's since lived long enough to see herself become the villain) as suddenly over night even people who had never heard of Taylor Swift had heard of Taylor Swift. It wasn't nasty, it was just celebrity theater, Kanye West doing what was expected of him and then hating himself in the morning for it. Everyone piling on. A new national catch phrase. But hardly anything to carry around a grudge about.

  • AudioSuede

    And let's be real: He was 100% right, because Taylor Swift won for Best Female Video and then Beyonce won Video of the Year, so obviously they just threw that award to Taylor Swift as some kind of pity vote.

    Also, since I'm going full Kanye defense, a lot of the media reaction to that moment was as much "angry black man interrupts innocent blonde white girl" as anything else. Kanye was not even close to the first person to interrupt a VMA award speech. Remember when the guy from Rage Against the Machine jumped on stage during Limp Bizkit's speech and had to be carried off the set? But Kanye is "mean" to Taylor Swift, and they make a meme out of it.

  • bonnie

    THIS. The racial implications about that whole incident made me so uncomfortable. "Oh, look at the poor little white girl being attacked by the mean black man" comments were disgusting. Taylor Sparklepony is no more a victim than you or I. She was rudely interrupted at a meaningless awards show by a drunken narcissist and that's how I see it. Nothing more.

  • Ley

    In hindsight, that also *kinda* led to Kanye making arguably the most thoughtful and self-aware songs of his career in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, so that wasn't all bad for Kanye. If anything, he may have used the experience to grow as an artist. Can't speak for growth as a person, though.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Putting aside the question of any particular celebrity's creativity, or talent, or skill - when it comes to personality I really don't give much of a shit at all. As long as noone gets hurt, things like arrogance and narcissism - though unattractive qualities - rank far, far lower on what gets my ire up.
    Kanye calling himself a creative genius doesn't even feature in the same universe as someone savagely beating on their partner (not mentioning any names. No wait, yes I am: fuck you, Chris Brown.)
    Besides, I like my creative types/entertainers to have a bit of manic fire to them, and I've been fond of Kanye ever since he said that George Bush didn't care about black people. That's valuable enough for me to give him a pass for a few self-absorbed comments.

  • jb

    He is not commited to the truth! He is commited to his truth about himself. So he actually wants the power over his perception by the people. Understandable, but people give a s--t, how he wants himself to be seen. That´s his problem.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Didn't you just describe most of the people on the planet?

  • Saying your intentions are always positive doesn't shield you from sounding like an arrogant ass. I don't like manufactured humble. But damn, have some awareness of the fact that at least some of your genius is an accident of birth and your ability to get rich and famous off your talent is dependent on a ton of things out of your control. I don't expect unfettered access into every detail of your personal life (nor do I want it most of the time). But I expect at least a bit of self-awareness and gratitude.

  • AudioSuede

    It's not just birthright. He had to work really really hard to be successful. A lot of people forget that before his first album, he was producing hits for big-name rappers for years, almost all of whom told him he should never try to become a rapper. Now he's the biggest rapper in the world, and people talk about him like he didn't earn it.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    I don't get how any one could say it's his birthright. It's not like his dad is Master P or anything.

  • Ley

    He DOES have some self awareness, but it's admittedly wearing thin over the years. I just think he's overcompensating for the fact that people still don't take him too seriously, not just as a rapper but also, as an artist. He's had some songs where he thanked people who believed in him (No ID, Jay-Z, even his mom) when no one did. Try listening to "Last Call" off his first album. For self-awareness, try: "Power" and "Runaway" of Dark Twisted Fantasy. The man knows what he's doing.

    I just think he just took whatever opportunities he had and ran with it. Right now, he's pretty full of himself, but who in hip-hop isn't? Much of rap is about selling yourself, anyway, so I think it's great that he keeps it real.

  • Shit, for self awareness, listen to ALL of Yeezus. "I Am A God" is basically him breaking down in front of a mirror and convincing himself that he should be great and should be the best that he can be. People make fun of it for the grandioseness of the title without listening to the lyrics.

  • I get what you're saying and agree 100%. But honestly, that's just not Kanye's style. He has gone full blown megalomaniac as Joanna says above. I feel he will never come down from his crazy, delusional cloud. But who knows? Maybe his baby will make him humble? Probs not, but crazier shit has happened.

  • KaGe

    I've kind of felt Kanye is the Brian Wilson of rap or hip hop or whatever the specific genre is. Yeah he's a bit crazy when dealing with the public, but damn if he doesn't make some great music.

    And that humble artist thing is a crock of shit. If you're genuinely humble fine, but I'd rather have some one like Kanye owning the fact that they kick ass rather than faking it (no idea what the parameters of "faking it" are, but when it's being done you can tell).

  • AudioSuede

    I was going to comment, but you summed up exactly what should be said about this interview.

  • $192913

    Kanye is fucking Walt Whitman and people pay so much attention to his ego that they miss how empowering his message is and has been since day one.

  • WD

    Unfortunately Kanye isn't Walt Whitman. He hasn't had that empowering message in a very long time, certainly nothing since his Graduation album. If you think anything off of 808s, Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus or any of his GOOD Musik collaborations are empowering, I'd respectfully disagree.

    And everything before Graduation wasn't written by Kanye - it was written by one of his ex-best friends, Dexter Mills (aka Consequence) as a ghost writer. Don't believe me? Check out Consequences old album 'Don't Quit Your Day Job' and tell me if the lyrics, flow, and message aren't exactly like 'old' Kanye.

  • King Push

    Cons is an irrelevant old fool now. "Sounds similar to" is not a basis for saying that he was the sole creative force behind Kanye's early success. Also, if he *was* actually that good, why has he fallen off the face of the earth for the last seven years?

    And Watch The Throne was empowering as hell.

  • AudioSuede

    Listening fail.

  • $192913


  • If Kanye is fucking Walt Whitman then he's discovered time travel(and proven several academic theories to be correct), which does give him a more solid basis for claiming to be a genius.

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