Three years ago, I had the pleasure of witnessing a passionate performance given by two best friends living out their lifelong dream- also known as the Watch the Throne Tour featuring Kanye West and Jay-Z. This was Jay-Z pre-Blue Ivy, and Kanye pre-Kim. It was just two friends giving a humble show to an audience of 20,000, having a grand old time while banking a few million.
Me and Kanye West (I’m the confused blonde to the left)
It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
One moment that especially stood out in the show was Kanye’s performance of “Runaway.” Standing on an aluminous red cube that towered above the audience, Kanye gave a mesmerizing rendition of the song, which he interjected with his own advice about heartbreak to the audience.
“If you all love somebody, please do me a favor so you’re not singing the same song as me, if you love someone tonight, hold on real tight.”
Kanye West is best known for two things:
1. being one of the biggest names in the music industry
2. his highly criticized, highly publicized, “did he really just say that” outbursts
Kanye’s dedication to saying what’s on his mind despite the audience, situation, or context has amounted to some serious criticism. But in an age when so many celebrities censor what they say to avoid offending and insulting, Kanye’s no nonsense honesty is refreshing.
He reminds us to not be afraid to have feelings that aren’t polite.
He reminds us to take pride in our work and present everything with confidence.
Most importantly he reminds us that if you believe in whatever it is you’re doing, who the hell is going to stop you.
Maybe if we all had a little more Kanye in us, we would push more boundaries and set the standards higher. Our generation is the one that questions what we’re told and doesn’t accept authority that isn’t deserved. Kanye was told at the start of his career that he’d never succeed in the music industry. Now, he’s sold 21 million albums and won 21 Grammies. When he tried to break into the fashion industry, designers like Fendi told him to leave it to the professionals. Yet he sat front row at almost every major fashion show this year, is currently producing his own line, and was on the cover of Vogue this past April. He defies every limitation and breaks down every boundary.
I’m not suggesting we all start Kanye-ranting every time we don’t get our way, but I do believe Kanye’s outspokenness is not just for the sake of publicity. His boldness has resulted in commercial, cultural, and personal success. If we’re the generation that’s going to change the status quo, we better stop being so afraid of criticism and what other people think.
If you step around people’s feelings forever, you’re never actually going to get anywhere.
In Kanye’s own words, “I will go down as the voice of this generation, of this decade, I will be the loudest voice.”
Well, at least someone’s speaking out for us.