There comes a point in an artist's career when the world realizes -- this person is going to be an icon.
It was 1967 for Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop festival when he set his guitar on fire, upstaging the white artists who were unfairly scheduled to close the festival.
It was 1983 for a 25 year-old Michael Jackson when he appeared at Motown 25, performing "Billie Jean" and debuting the moonwalk for the first time.
It was 1984 for Madonna when she withered around on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards, pushing the limits of sexuality right to the edge for the '80's.
It will be 2007 for Kanye West, continuing his world tour only a week after his mother's death. In a time when artists from Whitney Houston to Britney Spears will cancel a concert due to throat issues or celebrity depression, West proves his passion and integrity for his art is truly his survival.
After having an onstage breakdown in Paris the day before, on November 18th at a concert in Brussels, Belgium Kanye West spoke about performing shortly after his mother's death, "Don't suggest what I'm supposed to do, you know, 'What you need to do is you just need to stop touring, you just need to go home and clear your head.' Go home to what m%!herf%!er?"
West continued as the crowd applauded, "There's nothing that she loved more than to come to the shows and scream louder than any fan because she was my first fan that was screaming before anybody else, my first manager...if she was here she would tell me to get on that stage and kill it dog! She would tell me to go on the tour and take over the world and, 'Be number one like I told you to be baby!'" He then goes into a stirring tribute to his mother with the legendary '80's power ballad "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.
Whether you think the hip-hop megastar is arrogant, immature, or overly confident, you cannot ignore his conviction. When is the last time you’ve heard of a male hip-hop artist crying on stage (yes, I’m ignoring DMX's post jail bawls)? I know grown men who refuse to cry about anyone's death, even in front of their own family members. I can only imagine how many young boys will understand that mourning does not make you weak after seeing Kanye. West is the most important, honest, vulnerable and talented artist to come out of mainstream music, and especially hip-hop, in the last ten years.
To hear Kanye West stand on stage, as broken as he must be, and still perform, makes 50 Cent’s rants about being shoot nine times seem like a self-indulgent marketing ploy or Amy Winehouse’s drug-induced canceled shows translate as unprofessional and maybe not as talented as the world would like to believe.
Part of being an artist is revealing oneself and in today’s plastic market of perfect smiles, every word monitored by an out of touch publicist, or acking sincerity, Kanye is the real thing. If the man never released an album again, which he surely will, his legacy will already go down in history.
Kanye's drive takes me to the days of Tina Turner who would lose herself in the music after getting savagely abused by Ike Turner. The days of Janis Joplin who even with a heroin addiction found solace in the music, rarely ever canceling a show. The days of blues artists who performed in the Jim Crow South, fearing for their lives, but knew the people needed the music.
Damn, Kanye is going to make me fall in love with hip-hop again.
Grab a tissue and check out the clip below of Kanye’s emotional tribute to his mother.
Labels: DIVA KANYE