Hi. I’m Marcus, and I’m new here. I’m 32, from DC, and I’m a three time elementary school spelling bee champion and a pro wrestling manager. I enjoy insomnia, music, sociology, doing cardio, grilling steaks and writing. For the last two years, I’ve been writing about music for my own site True Genius Requires Insanity, DC cultural megablog Brightest Young Things, and leading East coast urban alternative site The Couch Sessions.
Now, I bring my rants on music and culture to the Bloglin. There is a method to my madness, and I hope you find what I have to say as provocative as it is entertaining. My first post is actually something I wrote last week for TGRI, but felt was a great icebreaker between myself and The Bloglin. For more about me, follow me on the Twitters. Thanks and enjoy.
They say we can’t be livin’ like this for the rest of our lives
Well, we gon’ be livin’ like this for the rest of tonight
And you know they gon’ be bangin’ this shit for rest of our lives
So live fast and die young, live fast and die young, live fast and die young
- Kanye West, “Live Fast and Die Young”
All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment…
- George Bernard Shaw
Like all great black men, Kanye West has a God complex. As the most innovative man in hip hop since Afrika Bambaataa, Kanye West as a producer transcended the genre. As an artist, his persistence in resolving the multitude of issues with his own life and with understanding the nature of how unfairly the universe operates in sound and rhyme transcended music. And in boldly declaring that Taylor Swift didn’t deserve to win a 2009 MTV Video Music Award, he transcended justice. Now, in the prelude to his forthcoming release Dark Twisted Fantasy, Mr. West is on a mission to not just transcend hip hop, all of music, and the nature of justice, but he is instead on a very culturally necessary mission to become culture itself. You may find ignorance and audacity in such a claim, but it is absolutely true.
Nearly three weeks ago, Kanye West joined Twitter. The 140 character immediate update of instantaneous snatches of the universe is the first time that news, culture and opinion have been blended and mashed in such a unique format. Everyday life and life altering events coexist on the same timeline, birth meeting death, joy meeting pain, love meeting hate, all with corresponding opinions. In order to make Twitter stop internationally and focus on a singular event happens for even the most culturally significant people once a month or so. Let’s compare this to Yeezy. Yeezy joined Twitter and in less than 30 days has nearly 800,000 followers. By comparison, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder has nearly 1.6 million followers and he’s been on for almost five years. Kanye has singlehandedly made Clydesdale horses, re-visiting the idea of Kobe Bryant as as a rapper, gold goblets, partying in Sweden and a passion for fashion not just hot in the streets, but pushing ahead the groupthink of universal culture. Just last Sunday as well, he singlehandedly and successfully built bridges to new audiences for artists struggling to find them in hipster degenerate punk hop disciples Ninjasonik, ebullient pop masterpieces Matt and Kim, the oft assailed M.I.A. and the popped by bottles Justin Bieber, who now has become the world’s most important 16 year old as the only person followed by the force of culture itself, the Louis Vuitton Don.
Kanye West has set the new cultural shift. Live fast. Die young. This is different than the hipster idea of do blow and die fast or the recessionary ode of live cheap and die sad. Kanye West is happy to be alive, and wants us to echo his sentiment. If I were him I’d be too and want the same. A noted and proud mama’s boy, his mom died. He then released a Depeche Mode album that people forcibly tried to like and many succeeded in liking to deal with what his life became after that. From there he decides it to be a great idea to make Taylor Swift a cultural icon by merely showing his ass on international television in an epic and comic manner. He does this while dating a bodacious and bald German supermodel rebound chick who left him for a football star. If this were your life, and you survived? You’d be Tweeting your ass off about getting to watch Batman on a thirteen foot wall projection TV as well.
For his first single from his new release, “Power,” he filmed a video with him under a halo surrounded by cherubs, angels and seraphim while bathed in a golden hue. The video is directed by Marco Brambilla, a director and graphic artist in the moving portrait realm. Obsessed by imagery straight out of the Hieronymus Bosch genre contrasting and discussing the nature of the necessary contrast of good and evil, “Power” doesn’t just ask “what can a man do with all this power,” over a stadium rap track that sounds like it’s meant to be played at the Parthenon and not your car speakers, but will instead be a 40 minute film that will address the nature of man’s quest for glory and iconic status.
Kanye West drives culture because he can. Deny him his goal of being a cultural identifier or culture itself, and you’re likely to hear about it. On a track, in a blog post, or now, on Twitter. He’s sucking the marrow out of the most dramatically creative forces in the world. From emotional synthesized sounds to Takeshi Murakami to live orchestral backgrounds for Unplugged performances, and so many more examples, Kanye West lives only for the extremes of this universe, and in doing so is one of the most polarizing figures of this, or any generation. He perpetually lives and dies for the public, his emotional well-being decided as a public referendum. As we head into a new generation informed by the instantaneous shifts of culture being reflected by technology, life has reached a point where man can be culture and culture can be man. Let’s not be angry about this proclamation, but accept it as a statement of the degenerative nature of society that has led us to this point. 9/11 ruined our generation’s faith in good people. A pointless war ruined our faith in good government. Our faith in good religion has been shaken by a plethora of horrific acts of nature that have proven many things true, including Kanye stating that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
We are a culture with nothing left to believe in. The underground hipster development was more about dancing to Nero fiddling while Rome burned than any sort of forward thinking cultural development. It was the lack of rules and lack of adherence to any standards of decency, sincerity, or much of anything else. We’re at a point now where in the mainstream, on the underground, in the streets, and in our minds, all that we know as hope, all that we know as fantasy, all that we know as reality, is gone, and everything in its place is frightening, unusual, terrifying, altogether too frank, honest, open and new. Nobody truly knows what to do in a socially and culturally lawless and wide open environment.
“What does a man do with all that power?” The question of the moment. Kanye West, as culture itself, and having more of all than all of us combined, is about to find out.- Marcus Dowling