The Passion of the Yeezy

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November 21, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

We know that Kanye West can love; after all he is in love with himself.  But something that is lost amongst his cockiness, musical genius, and inane remarks, is that Kanye West wants to be loved.[1]  In his own odd and atypical way, I really think that Kanye has felt love for another person.  But what I don’t think has ever happened, is that Kanye himself has felt that he has been loved in return.  When it comes to love, which I’ll admit he expresses in unromantic, and abrasive ways such as the line “I wanna fuck you hard in the sink, after that give you something to drink”, there’s a sincerity, almost to the point of naivety that’s present in his lyrics.  His desire to be loved has come to the forefront of his music since 2008’s 808s and Heartbreak, and I think to understand this is to understand everything about the one they call Yeezy.

As far as I can tell, at this point in my life I’m not mature enough to either handle being in love or to know that someone out there is in love with me.  If a woman were to tell me that she loved me, I think my first response would be “Why?”.  What do I do that’s so great as to warrant someone being in love with me?  Kanye West doesn’t have this dilemma; quite the opposite in fact.  He can’t seem to understand why no one can love him in return.  This is someone who’s been in love before, but most likely hasn’t felt that love reciprocated back to him, or at least not in the way he wanted it to be reciprocated.

It’s really on 808s and Heartbreak that he starts to explore himself and his own feelings as musical themes instead of focusing on social commentary or trying to make “people’s theme songs” as he did with his first three albums.  His most recent three albums, 808s and Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Yeezus, West expresses and exposes his feelings in a more vulnerable way than he has ever before.  That’s why these last three albums have been noticeably darker, because he’s being real with us and introducing us to the rawest parts of his soul, which as in the case of most people, is rife with insecurities, desires, and hurt.

At the center of this though is an extremely pressing and overt, if not seemingly uncharacteristic, need to be loved.  95% of 808s was Kanye pondering why his ex-fiancé doesn’t love him anymore, and how this could have happened.  Somewhere between 808s and Dark Fantasy, Kanye must have rationalized that it was because he’s kind of a shitty person.[2]  As a result, Dark Fantasy is an entire album dedicated to examining the finer flaws of his own personality, namely his arrogance, God-complex, infidelity, hypocrisy, and general hedonism.  Most recently came Yeezus, which thematically is the perfect unison of his two prior albums as the lyrics remain cynically dark pertaining to the notions of renewed self examination and continued lamentation/observation of his failed engagement to Alexis Phifer.

Between these two lyrical inspirations, it’s the lost love that outweighs the self-centered introspection that has dominated Yeezy’s last three albums.  Songs on 808s such as “Bad News”, “Heartless”, and “Welcome to Heartbreak” all explain the breakup or detail how Kanye’s life has been adversely affected by it.  Then there’s a song like “Love Lockdown”, which is Kanye giving out free advice to anyone who’ll listen about protecting yourself from heartache by simply subduing your emotions and keeping them in check, as the only way to ensure what happened to him won’t happen to us is to “keep your love locked down”.  There’s really no need to go into that much depth because anyone who wasn’t brain dead, or under the age of 3 in 2008 has had it beat into them that 808s is the sound of Kanye West’s heart breaking.  Apparently, the sound of an egomaniacs heart breaking sounds exactly like a Eurhythmics album written by Robert Smith and produced by T-Pain.

Whereas 808s merely describes the heartache and only displays the ensuing feelings as facts, Yeezus is where we really get to see the dichotomy involving love.  There are at least 4 songs that make not so veiled references to his relationship with Alexis Phifer, even though it ended five years prior to the release of Yeezus.  On “Blood on the Leaves” he contrasts the things she said to him when they were younger, with the way she acted towards him as they got older.  On “Hold My Liquor” declares “five years we been over, ask me why I came over” insinuating that Phifer is still on his mind.

Judging from how he dealt with that breakup, it’s safe to say that West really thought that she was the one, but it’s only from the sober standpoint of Yeezus, which takes the concept of heartbreak found in 808s and internalizes it a la Dark Fantasy that he comes to a revelation of grand proportions, and the revelation is this- If Alexis, the one woman he loved so much, didn’t love him in return, will anyone?  It’s more of a question than an epiphany, but it’s a question of a revelatory nature.  When Kanye looks back at that relationship, he sees the closest he’s ever come to being loved in return.  And if heartbreak from the woman he loved is the closest he’s come to being loved, then what does that day about his future prospects?

Enter “Bound 2”, the final track on Yeezus and the song in which Kanye tips hand.  “Bound 2” is a love song, inasmuch as Yeezy can write one.  With lyrics like “You remember where we first met, ok I don’t remember where we first met” the song is not romantic, but it’s about love and how it’s constantly eluding him.  The songs that he samples are the key here, with the recurring “I just wanted love” not only serve as observant angels overhead, but also of Kanye’s secret desire to find love.  Then after every other “I just wanted love” comes the “uh-uh honey” telling Kanye that he won’t find love…like ever.  For someone who writes lyrics like “Fuck you and your Hampton house, I’ll fuck your Hampton spouse, came on her Hampton blouse” and “I put the pussy in a sarcophagus, now she claiming that I bruised her esophagus”, to write and produce a song like “Bound 2”, such a divulgence of emotion can’t be anything but sincere.  “Bound 2” is the sound of Kanye bearing the most vulnerable part of his soul to us, and openly commenting on his own desire to find someone to love.[3]

Even before 2008, there were hints that not only did Kanye want to be in love, but also a prophetic sense of fear that a woman he loved would tear him apart.  The first thing that should come to is the video for “Flashing Lights” wherein he is bound and gagged by the beautiful Rita G.  Shortly thereafter she takes a shovel and stabs Kanye to death in the trunk of a car.  The idea of being hurt or betrayed by a beautiful woman isn’t anything new, look at Samson and Delilah, and judging from the video, Kanye fears that the same would happen to him, he would fall in love with a beautiful woman, and then she would stab him in the back, or impale him in the chest with a shovel.

Sure enough, in his own mind, that’s exactly what happened when his fiancé left him; he gave his heart to this person, and then she rejected it after having initially accepted it.  In that case the pain is doubled because you’re hurt from the rejection, but also wondering why she doesn’t like you anymore and when exactly that had happened.  You’re left looking for the why, the how, the when, and the what all at once.  And the truth is, we usually don’t get an answer to any of these questions.

Kanye was hurt when he recorded 808s, he was angry when he recorded My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and in Yeezus, he’s still hurt and angry, but now he just wants an answer to the question that has been vexing him for quite some time.  It’s a question that haunts most of us until we find the answer to it.  Kanye wants to know how long he’ll have to wait until he finds someone to love him in return.  Someone who knows as much about R&B as he does should know that the best answer to that question was already provided to us by Diana Ross.  Kanye, like the rest of us, will just have to wait.


[1] The most recent inane comment being when he referred to himself as “the nucleus of society”

[2] I’m sure South Park had something to do with this as well.

[3] “Bound 2” is the Kanye equivalent to Queen’s “Somebody to Love”.

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