I didn’t watch the Grammy Awards and I haven’t for years. Long ago it ceased being about rewarding talent with recognition, instead serving as a platform for industry politics and the anointment of the chosen few. That said, the level of arrogance displayed by rapper Kanye West (Mr. Kim Kardashian) should garner him expulsion from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and a complete shunning from the industry.
For the second year in a row Mr. West stormed the stage in protest when his preferred artist failed to win in their nominated category. In each instance he encroached on the winning artists’ moment in the spotlight; their moment to be celebrated by their peers in recognition for being selected by the majority as outstanding (this is what democracy looks like, Kanye). Last year he brutishly encroached on Taylor Swift, a gifted country music talent. This year he usurped Beck’s moment after he was named recipient of the Album of the Year Award. To the latter, West was upset that his preferred nominee, Beyoncé, failed to win in that category, even though she walked away at the end of the evening with three trophies in other categories.
Mr. West is quoted as saying:
“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyoncé.
“Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration…And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place.”
Mr. West’s actions – as well as his statement – conjure up some concerns.
Mr. West denigrated Beck’s talents and art form in what can only be seen as a personal attack. Examining West’s protest, he alludes to the idea that Beck is not a “real artist,” and that his talent is somehow inferior to that of Beyoncé’s. Truthfully, I am not an ardent fan of Beck, although I have nothing against his music. It’s just not my preferred genre. Neither is Rap (and I especially dislike Gangsta Rap, which I find harmful to society on almost every level). Nevertheless, I recognize that each of these genres is seen by those who enjoy them as art forms, none “superior” to another, just different. Evidently, Mr. West is a “musical supremacist”; someone who finds no worth in diversity of genre, voice, taste or preference.
Additionally, one has to be concerned about Mr. West’s inability to control his emotions. It is one thing to be of a creative opinion; to emote displeasure and disappointment when one’s preferred tastes are not validated. It is quite another to be uncontrollable in your anger to the point where you infringe upon another’s moment, time and space. By storming the awards stage – not once, but two years in a row – Mr. West has proved himself incapable of controlling his emotions. He has also proved himself to be a spoiled brat; an embarrassing product of the arrogant entitlement class.
Lastly, Mr. West – and all who agree with his actions and the onus of his statement – has exposed himself as not believing in the very systems he so vehemently declares to support: diversity and democracy. Every member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences votes on the nominees presented to them. To wit, the Grammy Awards are chosen through a purely democratic process. Additionally, every member – from all genres – is afforded the ability to vote in every category (although they are encouraged to vote only in the genres they have expertise in), thus, assuring diversity. Evidently, for Mr. West, democracy and diversity are only important when he and his “Klan” are the beneficiaries, when the shoe is on the other foot, democracy and diversity…not so much.
Mr. West’s protestations have quite a bit more to do with entitlement and arrogance than they do with legitimate protest. He has gotten incredibly wealthy and influential through his “talents,” yet he believes he is entitled to more; to have everything go his way, all the time. Evidently West believes that because a gaggle of sycophants hang on his every word that the rest of the world’s population must exalt his as well. This must be a debilitating moment for Mr. West.
Here’s a news flash, Kanye. Not everyone likes Beyoncé. To that end not everyone likes Beck. But enough people liked Beck’s album more than they liked Beyoncé’s and that garnered him the award for Album of the Year. Deal with it.
And, Mr. West, not everyone cares for you, your music, your lifestyle or your arrogance. Many of us find it childish and ignorant. Now, what stage are you going to storm to exhibit your adolescent behavior in protest to that reality?
Oh, and as far as your threat to boycott the Grammy’s if you don’t get your way? Well, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. I think the Grammy’s will survive.