Dear Yeezus: The sad creative decline of the once-great Kanye

Dear Kanye,

Marcus here. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Judging from what I’ve heard recently, things aren’t going so good.

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I mean, that’s cool, we all go through occasional hardships, but your issues seem totally self-inflicted. And instead of taking responsibility and adjusting your behavior, you lash out publicly and blame everyone else for your recent shortcomings.

In years past, that pain would’ve shone through in the music. In your own way. Remember the early 2000s? We knew those beats before we knew your name. The snap of those drums, the samples you chose. It was equal parts soul and hip-hop. You weren’t really doing anything new, still you expanded upon the Wu-Tang Clan’s aesthetic and made it something fresh and cool.

Jay Z once called you a genius. Roots bandleader Questlove saw you take the crown as rap’s king. We embraced you as the scrappy upstart, the guy with the pink Polo shirt and Louis Vuitton backpack, armed with unwavering bravado. I could relate to that dude; we’ve all felt slighted and underappreciated. You turned an unconventional track like “Jesus Walks” into a huge radio hit. And that beat you made for singer Alicia Keys?! Man, I still play that.

Look, I understand, I’m creative as well. People like us need to evolve almost daily. We can’t stand to be stagnant as we push for the next wave, the next chance to be legendary. Each song and story has to be perfect and true. You had this way of making your imperfections shine, even if the music behind you was technically precise.

I’ve always admired the ambition, the fact that you won by simply being yourself. In a world of superficial pop jams, there was a realness to your art that worked in all circles — from the corner store in Philly, to the streets of your native Chicago. You had this way of making people believe.

It’s the same thing Kendrick Lamar does now. Your new music sounds lost, unfocused and unfinished. The Life of Pablo feels like the ramblings of a man not fully committed to music or life, and your online antics make it tough to stay in your corner. Maybe Twitter just isn’t your thing. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Wait, don’t yell.

There’s actually a good album in there somewhere, but it’s so bogged down with lackluster production and cringe-worthy lyrics that your message gets lost. Like that line about Taylor Swift on “Famous,” for instance: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex … I made that b**** famous.” I mean, c’mon dude, you thought that was gonna fly? You’re married with two kids, but you’re reopening old wounds. I guess you really are a 38-year-old 8-year-old.

Then there’s the album’s roll-out. You dubbed it the greatest album ever. Then, naw, it’s just one of the greatest ever. Call it Swish. Eh, call it Waves. Better yet, call it TLOP. There was confusion over the release date, where to find it, what to make of it. You’re reportedly $53 million in debt and threw a fit prior to your “SNL” performance.

That’s not entirely your fault, but you gotta understand what you’re up against. The media wants clicks, fam. Your name generates page views, and you’re giving credence to the same pubs you claim to despise. Your words hold weight: “New Slaves” spoke to the heart of a community crushed under the weight of systemic oppression. “Real Friends,” a highlight on the new album, feels earnest.

I’m not saying go back to the old Kanye, but you need to reconnect with what made you whole. Take advice from folks who actually know what constitutes good music. Push your art forward and stop trying to emulate what everyone else is doing. That’s not you. Such moves make you look out of touch and behind the curve. You’ve always lived beyond that. You’ve always established the next wave.

The Life of Pablo is misguided and far too petulant. Your tantrums have gotten old. You need to grow up and chill out.

Even Jesus rested on the seventh day. 

Sincerely,

Marcus

PS: I made this list of your best B-side tracks. Maybe you should check it out? Alright peace.

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