When Kanye West released his first single from his new album many people scoffed and took out their sharpest carving knives. You could count me among them. I was not a fan of his singing or the cher-iffic vocal effect.
But after seeing Kanye preform on Saturday Night Live my mind was changed. Not because his performance was good, in fact, it was actually pretty poor. Mr. West typically preforms with an exaggerated bravado, but the difference in this performance was that he was singing and looked shakey at best. His vocals sounded weak and self conscious. He was flat and his ridiculous vocal effect only illuminated his wavery tone.
But still, at the end of the performance my opinion was changed. Kanye has chosen the route that many artist want to take but few do; To have the courage to follow ones artistic instincts, even if those instincts cause you to fall on your face at the height of your popularity.
That quality, of continual artistic evolution, is the trademark of all great artists. Dylan, The Beatles, Zeppelin, and Radiohead all evolved risking everything to push the boundaries of their music and stay true to themselves. Because those artists grew and evolved, modern music was changed and we are all forever indebted to them for that.
When Dylan went electric people were outraged. He had abandoned his folk protest flock for something new and “commercial.” People didn’t get it at first, and then the light went on in their heads.
Kanye West has a long way to go before he is viewed alongside Bob Dylan through the lens of time. But at least he is on that route. The route of artistic evolution.
I often wonder what would have happened if the robot (s)hit machine Nickelback attempted to move beyond the world of their first 2 records. Who knows maybe they would have been the Beatles of our time. . . . . HA![youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwERYlX7bc4] [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaDY1XEYQco]