September 21, 2013
Religion is unequivocally not the focus of our post modern culture today. Not too long ago, the majority of people’s lives revolved around sanctified deities and venerated scriptures, this is no longer the case. Our culture today prefers the sexy lure of celebrity, entertainment and wealth over the dreary elongated sermons of older men who can no longer relate to them, and why shouldn’t it? Vices are fun, they give us something to talk about, provide a secret identity and separate life outside of the monotony of quotidian activities. People of earlier times would seek refuge in religion and take comfort in knowing that God would save them if they subscribed to certain doctrines and behaved in a certain way. We as a generation are not so sure about this. We live in color, we are exposed to everything, and we are not particularly impressed with religion. Whereas previous generations were complacent in a faith they could not see and trusted god to make good on his promise, we are not as placable, we cannot wait, we want it NOW. In 2013 there is an endless supply of information. Any one person can communicate anything at all, whether it be a picture, video or deranged blog rant, to the entire world with a modem. Conversely, anyone with a modem has access to nearly anything he wants to know, whether it be a video of a grown man convulsing on the dance floor, or an illicit black market; it is all as close as the click of a mouse. In this world, can you blame people for not being riveted by things that happened to two-dimensional characters a very long time ago in a very far away place? Money, sex, and power form the holy trinity of our contemporary era and because we are exposed to so much, have such intimate insight into other people’s lives, we know that these things are attainable. These are not dead concepts forced upon us, to accept barring the endurance of our faith. These are tangible, attractive ideas that manifest themselves to us in our everyday lives. They are what we want, they are our motivation, they are what we think will make us happy. So who do we respect most in this irreverent society that lauds debauchery and mocks sincerity? The person who holds the best hand of cards, the dude with the biggest house, the gaudiest clothes, the baddest girl and the most influence. All things considered, Kanye West is an excellent candidate for our postmodern Messiah. With the release of “Yeezus” this past summer, Kanye asserted himself as the father of entertainment, and the conspicuous pun says it all. This is what makes “Yeezus” so compelling in concept: its honesty. Ask most Americans if they are materialistic or arrogant and they would indubitably reply, “Never.” Yet, we live in a society that revolves around materialism and rewards arrogance. We like to delude ourselves into thinking that our core values, what really, sincerely matters to us, are virtuous and moral, however, as nice as this sounds in theory, at a certain point our actions come to define us, and recognizing and coming to terms with our own materialism is important. In that sense West is ahead of the curve. West has the bravado to be up front about his perspective, he is unapologetically self-indulgent, arrogant and consumerist, and he doesn’t care what you think. This is what makes him great. He is indomitable, so glaringly offensive, but he is so supremely successful that no one can tell him to stop. He holds clout. He is above the system. Kanye and his fellow contemporary mega stars are the new deities; one of the tracks on “Yeezus” is even titled “I Am a God;” however West is the only one who can acknowledge this, whether it be out of haughtiness, innovation or sheer stupidity only he knows. Not to mention, the music is fantastic! It fuses hip-hop and dance music, with four of the songs being produced by Daft Punk. The beats are deep, melodic and variegated, with a manic Kanye West half shouting, half rapping just to weave space between the intricate sounds. West has perfected his craft, and his success is due to his keen musical intuition and his ability to evolve as an artist; however Yeezus goes beyond this. The primary significance of this album is symbolic. West has opened the door, and he has unabashedly reassigned traditional Western values and ethics to ease the dissonance between what we, as a society, actually want and what we think we should want. Kanye, our sacrilegious saint, has told it true to his perspective, time will tell if others will share enthusiasm for this candor.