West's tantrums just keep getting stronger

ON POPULAR MUSIC

May 08, 2008|By RASHOD D. OLLISON

I'm so over Kanye West and his eggshell ego. The rapper-producer was the subject of entertainment blogs last week after he threw yet another public diva fit. What ticked him off this time? A review -- a good one.

Entertainment Weekly critiqued the opening show of his Glow in the Dark tour, which stops at Nissan Pavilion on Saturday.

"West's commitment to communicating inner passions and identity crises is so consuming it nearly redeems any conceptual hokeyness," the reviewer said of the Seattle performance.

But after praising West, he shortchanged the supporting acts: Lupe Fiasco ("suffered from rapping to studio tracks"), N.E.R.D featuring Pharrell Williams ("no great singer, but he's a great party starter") and Rihanna ("Ri-Ri needs to ramp up the charisma").

Overall, the reviewer gave the tour a B+, which apparently infuriated West. He immediately went to his blog and banged out his rage: "What a B+ mean? I'm an extremist. I'm either pass or fail! A+ or F-!" The rapper went on with a few choice words I'm not allowed to repeat in a family newspaper. In closing, West had this to say: "Anybody that's not a fan; don't come to my show."

He later issued an apology to Entertainment Weekly. But who cared? He had already lost his cool and looked ridiculous. Again. After about five years of superstardom, the tantrums are getting old. Is he overcompensating for something? Does he need medication?

Sure, hip-hop (with so many pop affectations, is West still hip-hop these days?) is mostly about braggadocio, talking smack about being the best. But West has taken egotism to another level. Where other rappers' boasts are smooth and unshakable (the list is a long one: Rakim, Nas, LL Cool J, Lil' Wayne), West has always come off as a whiny nerd -- the smart, neatly dressed guy in class who was never really cool and knew it but later became successful and developed a stank attitude. Awkward and insecure, he fumbles into manhood, still using cry-baby tactics to get attention. It's sad, and it's pathetic.

In a way, his behavior distracts from his music. He's no great rapper; even West knows that. But unlike some MCs whose embittered, rock-hard posturing is just as annoying as West's hubristic tendencies, the Chicago rapper is often humorous.

His lyrical clumsiness is at times charming, backed by richly textured production. Though a bit uneven, his latest album, Graduation, featured adventurous touches to his smart production style. West, obviously inspired by '80s synth-pop, folded more electronic sounds into the mix. As part of an overblown first-week sales war with 50 Cent, Graduation quickly sold 2 million copies.

With 10 Grammys and healthy album sales in a crumbling pop music market, West really doesn't have much to complain about. He may be overrated, but he's still one of the most successful figures in hip-hop. But the silly tantrums over reviews and awards ultimately taint his legacy. More than likely, he'll be best remembered as rap's biggest spoiled brat, not one of the genre's cleverest producers.

Given the recent death of his mother, Donda West, who died suddenly in November after complications from cosmetic surgery, you'd think the rapper's perspective would change. She was his biggest advocate and even published a book about raising him.

You'd think losing her would have sobered him up. The whining and bratty fits would have ceased. Awards and reviews, especially at this point in West's career, aren't that important.

What more does he have to prove? It's really time for him to shut up -- and grow up.

The Glow in the Dark tour stops at the Nissan Pavilion, 7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow, Va., at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $36-$100.75. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.