Remember when Joaquin Phoenix went off the rails? Back in 2010 the actor-cum-rapper fooled David Letterman (and the world) into thinking that he’d fallen off the track and ditched an Academy Award nominating and Golden Globe winning career for a beard, drugs and a lazy flow.
Except, they were wrong. Phoenix wasn’t who he claimed to be. He was still the same old guy. He’d just been exercising a lesson in extended method acting for an albeit average new film. With Kanye’s recent plethora of very public breakdowns, could he be heading down the same route?
Back last year a school kid convinced the internet that Kanye’s new record was going to be called Black American Pyscho. Although the site that the kid set up was later found to be a hoax, the unconfirmed name runs parallel with Kanye’s current persona. Is Kanye crazy? Or does he want everyone to think that he is? He announced in Paris that we can expect new material within the next two months. Could Kanye be setting up a hyper-characterization for his new record? Let’s take a look…
I’d rather forget about Cruel Summer, but casting my mind back to the record, wasn’t it rather barren and sterile? Instead of fore-frontal word play, Kanye hid behind overly-lavish yet infertile production. "Otis" not withstanding, the same can almost be said for Watch The Throne. Rumour has it that the excellence of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, combined with a coke-n-intern habit and previous public breakdowns, caused Kanye to lose his mind. For the aforementioned records, Yeezy hid in a metaphorical asylum.
So, is he set to be released?
For the recent run of shows he’s been bounding about in a strait-jacket. I get that artists have to advance and Kanye wasn’t going to be wearing a pink polo forever. But, the transition from Yeezy 2’s to a strait-jacket doesn’t happen without reasoning. Kanye is a perfectionist so you best be betting your bottom dollar that he’s got a fuck load of reasoning bottled away for the return back to his indulgent, conceptual solo efforts.
Look at this little baby. It looks like he’s ripped the feathers of Hedwig and stuck them over his face. The outfit seems to represent a tamed animal, tying in with the sparse, serenity of the 808s and Heartbreak tracks that Yeezy performs whilst wearing this beauty. Also, when in costume, Kanye stands arms crossed, non confrontational - the polar opposite to the Mr West that bounds around the stage to "Diamonds Are Forever".
Then, he’s got the jewel encrusted mad scientist get up that he wears to perform later. It looks fucking ridiculous. But the two characters, put next to the fresh faced Kanye that performs throwback material, seem to suggest a shift toward characterised storytelling.
If I wanted to make a point, I’d book Kanye to come to my house and rant for half an hour. He’s the king of shutting stuff down, turning against people and generally talking shit on everything. Yeezy’s word is God. In London last weekend, he sent for Justin Timberlake, asked the Grammy’s to take his load and threw up deuces at the media. It all seemed pretty standard until…he started screaming. He did the same thing at a show in the States last year. Yet, unlike an impromptu breakdown which, y’know, can happen anywhere….Kanye’s shit-storm strops only take place after the performance of "Clique" suggesting that they’re pre-planned bravado rather than off the cuff meltdown.
However, at the second of two shows in London, he threw a little tantrum after "Touch The Sky" which almost definitely wasn’t planned. But, Kanye is clever by now, right? He’s made the media mistakes, shut down his Twitter and shyed away from the press. He knows all about YouTube and probably wanted everyone to see his little hissy-fit to further promote his new persona of “fuck everything”.
If we look back to Yeezy’s discography, a bizarre, anti-establishment persona certainly seems to fit. The character has gone through college and early life (College Dropout & Late Registration) graduated (duh), lost a love (808s and Heartbreak), turned to drugs and fantasy (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) and now, seemingly grown up and aware, he’s gone off the rails, promoting an anti-media rhetoric that he’s battled through since the beginning (Sixth record impending).
Or, maybe Kanye has gone off the rails for real? He is a tortured soul, after all.