Now that we have a handwritten tracklist we can finally get properly excited about the new Kanye West album. Sure, we've enjoyed a couple of tracks already in the form of "Real Friends" and "No More Parties in LA", but the real meat on the bone of the anticipation is a few lines of text scrawled in felt tip. Swish, in its entirety, is nearly here!
Which got us thinking: does dance music have a Kanye West? By that we mean, is there any one figure in dance music so completely divisive, commercially popular, and critically adored that they could get away with declaring themselves a God during a Zane Lowe interview? Has David Guetta ever called out his own head of state live on national television? When was the last time you read about Sander Van Doorn challenging Beck's artistry during an award's ceremony? Actually, when was the last time you heard anything about Sander Van Doorn? Who the fuck is Sander Van Doorn?
The point is, Kanye West is one of the most undeniably interesting and exciting figures in contemporary music because he's very intentionally, very self-consciously, decided to elevate himself above the status of mere mortals. He sort of floats a few feet about our collective heads, sashaying about in very, very expensive hoodies, and as such, he's ultimate proof of the power of the potential of self-invention, self-creation. Is there anyone, we wondered, who inhabits the world of club culture, who's so radically altering expectations on such a culture defining scale? We set out to investigate that very subject. Here's who we think fits the bill.
Think about it. They both started out as dorky, gawky, lads who spent far too much time fumbling about on their laptops. They both had a penchant for really bad sunglasses. They both appeared on the Friday Night Project which means they've both probably eaten peanuts with Justin Lee Collins and had a piss next to Alan Carr. In the same way there's a strange, American Pie kinship between two people who've both had sex with the same person, the knowledge that your piss has possibly splashed onto Alan Carr creates an indelible bond that can never be broken. And look at them now. One of them's a multi millionaire, globally know, much loved artist at the peak of his powers, constantly redefining what it means to be a creative act in the age of late-late capitalism, and the other's Kanye West.
We're pretty sure we've seen both their dicks on the internet.
This one is all about invention and reinvention. Not only has Arca actually worked with Kanye, but the Venezuelan producer's sound is a crystalline example of the reconfiguration of existing sonic frameworks to create something wholly new. Both of Arca's albums, 2014's Xen and last year's Mutant found game-changing successes in warping the established sounds of club music, not unlike Kanye's first steps into production liberally playing with soul samples. While their sounds didn't really cross over until Yeezus, it's safe to say their artistic ambitions have never been far apart.
Nearly as central to his status as his music, is Kanye's fiercely outspoken stance on the state of modern culture. While often this manifests itself as self-aggrandising, he's also had no problems gunning for the state of everything around him. Someone he shares this in common with is Detroit don Seth Troxler, who has made no qualms decrying the state of modern dance music, in particular EDM, an area that Seth feels devalues club culture's heritage and is turning a generation of ravers into mindless drones. As Kanye might see it, "We have to rethink, re-inspire. Wash the brain, not brainwash." Or in Seth's words, it's "sonic ear-rape."
We were going to write something about how you never see the Daft Punk lads without their helmets on, and how for all anyone knows it might be Les Dennis and Brian Conley under there on stage with Nile Rodgers and Pharell, and how, y'know, during the Yeezus tour Kanye was wearing masks all the time so maybe he's a member of Daft Punk, and then we remembered that there are loads of photos of them without the helmets on. Still, Kanye sampled them once.
Anklepants is best known for having a dick for a head, an accusation that has also been levelled at Kanye West.