Being a fan of Kanye West must be what it’s like rooting for the New York Yankees: You love him because he’s so good, but you also know why so many people see him as a bad guy.
In June, when his thrilling new album “Yeezus” hit the public in a flash of mega-hype and ultra-ego, it demonstrated once again that while West always delivers musically, his cocky demeanor is part of the package.
Twin Cities fans’ conflicted feelings on the Chicago rapper worsened over the past few days when he postponed and later outright cancelled a Target Center show last Tuesday (one of six “flyover” dates lost to production issues). It seems we can paraphrase one of his own controversial disses: Kanye West hates Minnesota people! Here are reasons to love and hate him back.
He has twice delivered for us.
His previous Twin Cities concerts were electrifying, especially the ’09 Glow in the Dark Tour. That one featured an elaborate moonscape stage, hi-fi lightning and orchestra, but the best part was Kanye standing up there alone, working the mic like a maestro. His ’04 gig (opening for Usher) also featured a certain keyboard player by the name of John Legend.
He has thrice canceled on us.
The third time certainly wasn’t the charm. Granted, his mother’s sudden death a month earlier was a good excuse for backing out of the 2007 KDWB Jingle Ball, but he played other shows in the interim and only gave a couple days’ notice to fans here, who got stuck paying $47-$125 to see Jordin Sparks and Timbaland. At least the cancellation of his 2011 tour date with Jay Z came before tickets went on sale.
He freely speaks his mind.
Some of his most attention-grabbing stunts have simply been Kanye raising his voice against what he perceives to be injustice, whether crashing Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards or his comment “George Bush hates black people” on the 2006 Hurricane Katrina TV telethon.
He doesn’t think before speaking.
A more cunning way to dis Ms. Swift would have been to speak about it afterward with the media (who would’ve lined up to hear it). And even if you applaud his presidential barb, you must admit he could have worded it better.
‘Black Skinhead,’ the lead single off ‘Yeezus.’
The hard-panting rhythms and racially charged lyrics make for one of his most riotous tracks.
Its oversaturated commercial use.
The song works sharply in trailers for the Martin Scorsese movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but the edge was worn off by TV and internet ads for Motorola’s new Moto phone.
He’s one of hip-hop’s most thought-provoking lyricists.
In addition to “Black Skinhead,” other jaw-dropping lines on “Yeezus” surface in the corporate-world slam “New Slaves” and the insanely boastful yet quasi-religious wowza track “I Am a God ” (“I am a god / Even though I’m a man of God / My whole life in the hands of God”).
He could censor himself a little, though.
The controversy over his reference to Parkinson’s disease in the new song “Sight On” was deserved. Then there are the horn-dog sexplicit lines on “Yeezus” that would even make Dr. Ruth blush, especially “I’m in It” — although it is kind of funny how the song interprets turning off your iPhone as a preamble to sex.
He’s fond of our local boy Bon Iver.
Eau Claire, Wis.-reared indie-rock bard Justin Vernon and his electro-washed falsetto were all over Ye’s last solo record, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” and he pops up again on the “Yeezus” track “Hold My Liquor.”
He’s too fond of Auto-Tune.
It was fine to hear West experimenting with electronic voice effects on his semi-underrated 2008 record “808s & Heartbreak,” but they sound overused and grating on “Yeezus,” especially in the otherwise powerful “Blood on the Leaves.”
He’s scuffled with paparazzi to protect his new baby’s privacy.
“It’s our baby, not America’s baby,” he has said repeatedly.
He then showed off baby photos on his future mother-in-law’s TV talk show.
It was all the more disappointing to learn that Kris Jenner actually has her own talk show.
He’s romancing his girl like a gentleman.
Last month, West surprised girlfriend Kim Kardashian with an elaborate proposal on her birthday at AT&T ballpark in San Francisco, and he escorted her around Paris for Fashion Week.
What about that other girl in your life?
They sure are getting around a lot for a couple with a 3-month-old baby, aren’t they? So ask the jealous, nannyless parents of the world.