Pop Theory: Kanye West is a Brilliant Satirist
I love fan theories, whether they're about music or movies or Nickelodeon cartoons from the 90s.
Well, I have my own and I think it might actually be true.
Here it is.
Kanye West isn't actually a mediocrely-talented simpleton with delusions of grandeur. He's actually a brilliant satirist who's been playing a character called "Kanye West" for nearly two decades to hilarious effect. He's a master of the absurd like Andy Kaufman and "Kanye" is his Tony Clifton. It's as if Sasha Baron Cohen only did Borat and never dropped the character.
His "Music" is not great.
At first, I thought Kanye West was a rapper or singer who must have some talent since so many people bought his records. I thought this because I never had heard anything he did because I don't care for rap.
Then, I heard him perform.
What? Come on...No professional musician would ever sound like that under any circumstance, right? That's the sound I make when I'm waking up and trying to de-phlegm.
OK, somebody is trolling here. At first I thought it was a joke being pulled by Jay-Z. Like, maybe he made a bet with Puffy, ala the Duke brothers in "Trading Places".
"Puffy, I'll bet you one dollar I can turn anybody into a rap star because it's such a BS musical form."
"Alright, Jay, I'll take that bet. I pick...him."
"Who? Kanye?? The kid I pay to empty the trash cans? I only gave him the job because he's clearly a little soft in the head."
"No, no, Jay-Z...you said anybody."
This was the theory I went with until recently. Recently as in "today" when I saw Kanye's appearance on Ellen.
You see. No one could ever be that outrageously narcissistic and simultaneously un-self-aware unless they were trying to be. The whole put-on has been sublime and I salute Mr. West (or whoever the genius playing his is) for keeping this charade going as long as he has. But I've figured it out now. There are certain things he said in this interview that tip his hand that he's doing theatre of the absurd here. Brilliantly, I might add.
He does some of the usual buffoonery, like how he's a renaissance man and he can help save humanity. Hilarious, but standard Kanye. Then he gets into some truly hilarious moments. Like...
"(I have) a PHD from the Chicago Art Institute"
It's an "honorary" PhD, given to him as partial payment for his giving the graduation speech. It's the kind of thing you give Jean-Claude Van Damme or Sinbad, except most people don't go around bragging about it. Only a true satirist like Kanye would drag it out as proof of his "genius". Well played!
"I have a condition called synesthesia where I see sounds. Everything I sonically make is a painting."
Synesthesia is a real condition and Kanye West may very well have it. That particular form is extremely rare though, and often goes along with other conditions like autism. Also, synesthesia was little-talked about until recently and has become a "trendy" thing for people to claim to have. It's kind of like claiming to have "super-human" powers. It's in the same sort of way that every slightly awkward person likes to claim that they have Asperger's when they probably don't.
"I'm sitting there with Obama, and Leo [DiCaprio] is talking about the environment, and I'm talking about clothes, and everyone looks at me like 'That's not an important issue.' "
This level of satire goes beyond even the genius of Kaufman or Baron-Cohen. This is Swiftian (Jonathan, not Taylor).
To set there and wonder why your fashion "genius" isn't taken as seriously as issues like the environment or ending world hunger, and to do it WITH A STRAIGHT FACE...Well, "Bravo" is all I can say to that level of commitment to trolling.