I recently attended a conference where I was asked to fill in a questionnaire. Amongst the questions about my favorite television program and favorite beverage, I was asked to name a person who inspires me. My answer was chocolate malt. For favorite beverage, that is. All in the Family is my favorite TV show. My inspiration? Kanye West a/k/a Yeezy a/k/a Ye a/k/a Yeezus.
I have much admiration for Mr. West. People mock his ego, but I think the world would be a better place if more people believed in themselves the way Kanye does himself.
I admire that he pursues his dreams, including those outside his music. He may not be the best fashion designer, but he goes after it instead of staying in a rapper/producer box.
I admire that he pursued the woman he believes to be the world’s most beautiful and married her.
I admire him because he says what he thinks and what he believes. I find his honesty and candor refreshing.
And then there’s the music. His body of work holds its own against any artist working today. He continually challenges himself musically. After issuing three fine albums of his rapping, he surprised us with an album of singing, and while he’s no Marvin Gaye, that album turned out to be damn good. I like that he’s equally comfortable and innovative using classic soul samples and using obscure rock samples.
Lyrically he explores love, racism, art, sex, religion, drugs, self-destruction, and redemption. He can be thought-provoking; he can be funny.
He aims high and more often than not delivers.
He has a vision and is not afraid to execute on it. He won’t settle for just okay in his pursuit of perfection.
I’ll let the man himself sum up what I admire most about him: “If everything I did failed — which it doesn’t, it actually succeeds — just the fact that I’m willing to fail is an inspiration. People are so scared to lose that they don’t even try. Like, one thing people can’t say is that I’m not trying, and not I’m not trying my hardest, and I’m not trying to do the best way I know how.” (May, 2012)
Music is better with artists who consistently aim high and try to expand their boundaries. Such creative types are what keeps me passionate about new music year after year. The way Kathie Lee needed Regis is the way I need Yeezus.
Today is Kanye West’s 38th birthday. In a career full of high points, here are twenty of my favorites.
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