Wednesday, January 4, 2006

I (Toya) originally wrote the following piece for an online e-zine but I am not sure if they are going to use it. It's pretty time sensitive since the Grammys are in a month (thanks Grant) so I figured I would put it on our site. Feel free to discuss.

Trouble Man: Kanye West vs. The Grammys

"If I don't win Album of the Year, I'm gonna really have a problem with that… I can never talk myself out of [winning], you know why? Because I put in the work. I don't care if I jumped up and down right now on the couch like Tom Cruise. I don't care what I do… you can never take away from the amount of work I put into it. So I don't wanna hear all of that politically correct stuff…. I worked hard to get here. I put my love, I put my heart, I put my money [into Late Registration]. I'm $600,000 in the hole right now on that album and you tell me about being politically incorrect? People love these songs...You talk to somebody whose grandmother just died and listens to 'Roses,' and you tell me about being politically incorrect."- Kanye West (from

It is going to be nearly impossible for Kanye West to get an award from a group of people that he continuously publicly disrespects with his tirades of superiority. Before this latest rant, his cockiness likened to one of a student denied first place in his school’s science fair. It was laughable. However, West’s latest episode makes him look much less than overly confident and more, if anything, greatly terrified.

What is puzzling is that Kanye West cares at all about what the NARAS thinks of him and his work. Although much more commercial in today’s culture, hip hop used to be like punk: an underground, "stick it to the man" kind of culture, much like the step child of the music scene. One would think that an artist who considers himself a forerunner of this culture, would be far less concerned about earning the accolades of those that feed the machine of what has now been considered the nemesis of hip hop, "corporate rap": rap music that is based on a quick money making formula verses artistic talent. According to, qualified Grammy voters are "professionals with creative or technical credits on six commercially released tracks (or their equivalent). These may include vocalists, conductors, songwriters, composers, engineers, producers, instrumentalists, arrangers, art directors, album notes writers, narrators and music video artists and technicians." Plainly, a collection of West’s peers that he has repeatedly offended by saying that his work and work ethic are superior to theirs.

Even so, West seems to find much worth in what these same peers think of him and yearns for them to acknowledge him as one of the greatest of all time. Why should he expect much from an organization that has been slow to embrace hip hop in the first place? The association did not add Rap as a genre until 1988. Should Kanye be so hard pressed to gain accolades from an organization that let Sir Mix-A-Lot cop an award for "Baby Got Back? There are countless of other artists that have been around prior and longer than Kanye West has that have never received a Grammy (A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy and De La Soul just to name a few). Why does he think that he is so deserving? Is it that he thinks he is the best or is it that he HOPES that he is?

Is it that he feels that "Late Registration" needs a Grammy to legitimize being $600,000 in the hole? If that is the case, why spend money on two videos for Heard ‘Em Say? The CD has never lacked promotion. It has yielded one of the longest running #1 singles this year and who can forget the infamous "George Bush doesn’t care about black people" statement made just days before the record released? Also, Kanye West was featured on the cover of Time Magazine and was named one of Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People of 2005.

"Late Registration" IS in fact a very well done album regardless of what the Grammys decide. However, West’s show of over confidence appears to be just that. People that are truly confident TRULY don’t care about what other people say about them. They don’t covet awards. They don’t crave formal recognition. They don’t whine about their lack of accolades because they don’t feel that their glory is something that can be given or taken away by anyone. If the people love and identify with records such as "Roses" as Kanye so strongly believes, then it would make sense for him to only be concerned about winning awards that are voted on by the people themselves such as the American Music Awards. The American Music Awards are voted for by consumers and were given away November of this year. Kanye West did not win one.

Neither did Mariah Carey who critics are already saying will most likely beat out Kanye West for the much coveted Album of the Year award. Her comeback multi-platinum album, "The Emancipation of Mimi" which "Late Registration" is up against, has already yielded 4 Top 10 hits to Kanye West’s one Top 10 hit with "Goldigger". Ironically, West is credited on Carey’s record as co-writer for "Stay the Night". Without neither an American Music Award nor five mics from either The Source or Vibe Magazine, could it be that this is Kanye’s last resort to win it big award wise for 2005? Is that what the fuss is all about? Would winning Album of the Year truly sooth his hurting ego?

Pride truly comes before the fall and for this I am absolutely and sincerely terrified for Kanye West. It is rather sad to watch someone put their foot in their mouth and shoot the other one simultaneously. As many people who feel that Kanye West’s record deserves to be album of the year, it is quite likely that there are probably about twice as many people who are willing to vote for anybody but him to ensure he does not get it.

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