In Memoriam: The Old Kanye Omari West
Dearly beloved, we’re gathered here today to pay our respects to the Old Kanye Omari West. Once fresh and politically gregarious, the award-winning creative’s cerebrum crashed and burned at the TMZ offices on Tuesday (May 1). He was presumed to be 40, but previous declarations and revelations made it impossible to age it.
Mr. West was seen speaking at the tabloid’s headquarters in California where sentiments like, “Slavery was a choice,” left his lips and hit the biting office space air. Insiders say the silence was so loud it shattered the low hanging amygdala in his brain, causing him to lose empathy and respect for himself. It had been a long time coming for the creative. Recently, he took a proverbial road trip to Twitter, where it wandered between pillars of free-thinking, America’s political origins, and good old-fashioned rambling.
During his recently released conversation with Charlamagne Tha God on the rocky hills of his Calabasas property, he’s asked about the blueprint persona that was The College Dropout ‘Ye and how that man would feel if he saw the MAGA-wearing, philosophical ‘Ye that stands before us today. “I think he’d be happy… satisfied,” he said after a long pause. “And he would believe it. You know how people say, ‘I don’t believe it.’ I always believed it. I always know what it is. This is documentation right now. This is the age 40, this version of a College Dropout ‘Ye.”
Evolution is a given. As a species, we’re designed to adapt to our surroundings and make choices that essentially change our lives. Old Kanye, previously a go-to producer for the likes of JAY-Z and Talib Kweli, made the move from the soundboards to the booth for his debut album, The College Dropout in 2004. Insightful and filled with rich samples, the album became a magnum opus for the man who was wise beyond his then 26-years on earth.
“We rappers are role models, we rap we don’t think” (“Jesus Walks,” 2004)
Brother Yeezy of the Past was always an open book. Between the conscious and bravado bars, he was a voice of reason many gravitated to. His ability to blend in with the Beanie Sigels and Commons of the rap game made him the “hood favorite.” And of course, there are his creative visuals. It continued throughout his music, which became a soundtrack to the rap era of the mid-2000s.
And then we finally got to know the real Kanye.
His infamous comment about former President George W. Bush, removed the filter between the man and the music, elevating him to be not just a celebrity champion, but an inspiration to many young children of color. Our elders finally got to understand where rap was going. His confidence, as many would note, was already at an all-time high before the riches came. The gripe with it and those unwilling to see his vision was heard in his music.
“I’m ahead of my time, sometimes years out / So the powers that be won’t let me get my ideas out / And that make me wanna get my advance out / And move to Oklahoma and just live at my aunt’s house.” (“Gone,” 2005)
Over the years, we’ve watched “The Louis Vuitton Don” mold into the creative force he’s always wanted to be. In that time, he’s become the hero and at times the villain through his stream of consciousness. Through his antics done in the digital space, we’ve gotten to know the artist for who he really is, or who he’s always been. As lovers of this thing we call the culture we’ve gone to idolize fellow humans who have the talent, ambition, and endurance that we don’t possess. It’s a gift and a curse–people like Kanye inspire, but they also possess the ability to shift the mindset of a generation. Our thirst for iconicity has left those who have to quench it with a duty they don’t quite know how to handle.
“No one man should have all that power, the clock’s ticking, I just count the hours / stop tripping, I’m tripping off the power.” (“Power,” 2010)
In Kanye’s quest to expand his mind, he hit a few roadblocks, including his failed plan of ignoring implicit bias, the history of slavery and a skewed view of free thinking. “I’ve been distracted and manipulated and all kinds of things,” Kanye admitted to Charlamagne. As he continues to go through another
breakthrough breakdown in plain sight, we can’t help but assume that the Old Kanye West is dead and gone. But in between his rambles, there are gems like his appreciation for family, understanding of the media, and how true power is distributed among ariel heights. His friends like Big Sean and T.I. see this and refuse to give up on him so easily. For the rest of us, Old ‘Ye is a figure who’s been left behind. In his place stands a man searching for foundation and clarity. From TMZ to Info Wars, he’s willing to align himself with dangerous energy in the name of his viewpoint of love, a selfish trait he’s had all along.
“Poopy-di scoop Scoop-diddy-whoop,Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop” (“Lift Yourself,” 2018)
And so with great remorse, we bid farewell to the Old Kanye Omari West, or at least the back pack slangin’, aviator rockin’ ‘Ye we thought we knew. It was nice to have you here with us. Perhaps the world will grow to love who ‘Ye has become. He just has to get there first.