The Grammys are a few weeks old now and still the predictable Kanye hate trudges on. We all know that Kanye West is one of history’s great douchebags and that his wife is one of the worst people alive. These are indisputable facts, and not up for debate. But still, seriously people, what the fuck.
So for those of you that missed it (really?), Beck was awarded album of the year at this year’s Grammys on account of being around for ages – the basic Grammy awards qualification for non-pop acts. Beyonce was again in contention for best album, and Kanye again attempted to take the stage to demonstrate his dissatisfaction with this result. Beck was actually pretty cool about it, and Kanye never actually took the mic, but loudly voiced his views regarding the matter in a post-awards interview for which he has since apologised, albeit quite a long time after the actual event.
And so the internet came alive with the type of unfunny memes that only people who don’t normally create memes or listen to modern music can come up with. “Let’s mashup a Beck song with a Kanye song! What Beck songs do we know?” Not that many as it turns out:
Apparently Beck hasn’t had any decent songs since 1994. I mean, I get that the title “Loser” is fitting if you wanna slag someone off, but fuck me, predictable much? Seriously, when someone like Will Butler from fellow Grammy winning plod-rockers Arcade Fire (criteria: being around for ages and releasing lots of albums) gets onboard, you know the joke is dead. We also got gems of musical wisdom like this:
So why the butthurt on my part? Obviously the Grammys are hella-lame and have about as much to do with good music as Kings of Leon’s drum kit. And I like Beck: Morning Phase is a great album! We even featured it in our best albums of 2014, although not at the top. The artist that did take the top spot – Run The Jewels – have about as much chance of winning a Grammy as any other cutting edge act of the last 50 years: none whatsoever. Nor would they have any reason to want one: Grammy awards are for carbon copy major label groomed pop stars and ageing rock acts who’ve qualified out of sheer longevity alone. Beyonce’s album didn’t even make our list, but I’d speculate that it is more worthy of the best album Grammy because of its surprise release – it had more powerful and widespread cultural impact, which is surely what an awards ceremony for which musical quality takes a back seat is all about.
Also the idea that Beck’s music is somehow more worthy than Beyonce’s because Beck wrote it all and plays more instruments is ludicrous. That’s not what pop music is about. Elvis Presley didn’t write his own songs either. Songwriting is arguably the most important skill in the music industry, and kudos to Beck for being the musical equivalent of a swiss army knife, but that doesn’t make Beyonce any less relevant or her music any less worthy. These are different genres, they have different criteria and different elements that make them great. Would Morning Phase be any less of an album if Beck hadn’t written it all himself? Of course it wouldn’t. In any case, do you know who does write, perform on and produce all of their own music? Kanye West does.
The idea that Kanye is unworthy to hold a flame to the likes of Beck is ridiculous in itself. Beck himself expressed admiration for Kanye’s music after the event, and he is absolutely correct about Kanye’s great recording output over the last few years. His first three albums are absolute classics, and everything he does is exciting and unpredictable. He is one of popular music’s few remaining innovators (a group in which I would also include Beck), and to say that he is unworthy simply because he’s a bit of a douchenozzle is absurd. These people are rock and pop stars: they’re not like you or I. They exist to provide us with entertainment, and any Grammys that Kanye attends is bound to be interesting.
It’s also been pointed out that there could be an element of racism to all of the Kanye hate. I’m not gonna touch on this too much because I know that it doesn’t apply to all of the haters, but the gist of it is that people don’t want to see an uppity black man that doesn’t know his place outshine their largely white rock royalty. I don’t think this is the whole issue, but it’s still a valid point that needs to be noted.
Loads of fellow celebrities jumped to Beck’s defence – despite the fact that he didn’t want any – and couldn’t wait for the chance to take down Kanye West and his rock star behaviour. At least they didn’t lead the charge with someone who was barely relevant 20 years ago and probably hasn’t been invited to a Grammys event in over a decade:
So the gist of it is this: Kanye, Beck and Beyonce are all great artists. If you can’t appreciate the artistry of someone like Kanye West, then that’s your loss: he’s responsible for some of the finest hip hop production this century. And if you buy into the Grammys hype, then you get what you deserve. Kanye is as worthy as anyone up there, and his antics this year elevated a boring music industry circle jerk into the sort of event that you’d expect with so many flamboyant personalities in the room. Kanye is due to drop a new album this year, and based his track record, that is far more exciting news than almost anything else this year.
You want to talk artistry? Then check out Kanye West’s back catalogue. The man knows his stuff.