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kottke.org posts about Kanye West

Kanye deconstructed: The human voice as the ultimate instrument

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 01, 2016

Kanye West is not a great singer. But he packs his songs and albums full of the human voice. Estelle Caswell explains how Kanye uses the human voice as the central instrument in his music.

We Work Remotely

Kanye West’s poem about McDonald’s

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2016

Kanye

Frank Ocean dropped his long-awaited album the other day and to go along with it, he gave away a magazine called Boys Don’t Cry for free at four pop-up locations in LA, NYC, Chicago, and London. Kanye West contributed to the album and magazine, penning a poem about McDonald’s for the latter. Here’s the poem:

McDonald’s man
McDonald’s man
The French fries had a plan
The French fries had a plan
The salad bar and the ketchup made a band
Cus the French Fries had a plan
The French fries had a plan
McDonald’s man
McDonald’s
I know them French fries have a plan
I know them French fries have a plan
The cheeseburger and the shakes formed a band
To overthrow the French fries plan
I always knew them French fries was evil man
Smelling all good and shit
I don’t trust no food that smells that good man
I don’t trust it
I just can’t
McDonald’s man
McDonald’s man
McDonald’s, man
Them French fries look good tho
I knew the Diet Coke was jealous of the fries
I knew the McNuggets was jealous of the fries
Even the McRib was jealous of the fries
I could see it through his artificial meat eyes
And he only be there some of the time
Everybody was jealous of them French fries
Except for that one special guy
That smooth apple pie

Man, I can’t help but like Kanye. Just when you think he takes himself way too seriously, he does something like this and you can’t tell if he’s taking himself way WAY too seriously or not seriously at all. McDonald’s, man. Kanye drawing courtesy of Chris Piascik. (via @gavinpurcell)

Kanye West’s favorite noises

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 09, 2016

A compilation of all the unusual noises — henh! hwuah! masanoonaa! eescrong! — Kanye West makes in his songs.

Chinese nicknames for American pop stars

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 28, 2016

Ethnographer Christina Xu discovered a few of the nicknames that young Chinese fans have devised for American pop stars.

Nicki Minaj - 麻辣鸡 (má là ji): a slant transliteration of “Minaj”. Means spicy chicken (ma la is a spice combo commonly used in Sichuan cooking).

Drake - 公鸭 (gōng yā): Literally “male duck”, as in the definition of a “drake”. I laughed out loud when I finally figured this one out.

Kanye West - 侃爷 (kǎn yé): a transliteration of Kanye. In Beijing dialect, this means someone who brags a lot with no actions to follow it up.

Update: According to @billyroh’s coworker, Rihanna is known to some as “the Pop Queen of Shandong Province”.

Steve McQueen interviews Kanye West

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 24, 2014

I always forget about Interview magazine but I really shouldn’t because a) Warhol and b) they consistently pair interesting people together for interviews. Case in point: director Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave, not Bullitt) interviews Kanye West for the Feb 2014 issue.

MCQUEEN: You’ve been on the scene as an artist now for 10 years, which is impressive, given the level of interest and artistry that you’ve managed to sustain in your work. In the process, you’ve become incredibly influential. So you talk about doing all of these other things, which is great, but there’s really no amount of money that could make you more influential than you are now. So my question is: What are you going to do with all of the influence that you have right now?

WEST: Well, influence isn’t my definition of success-it’s a by-product of my creativity. I just want to create more. I would be fine with making less money. I actually spend the majority of my money attempting to create more things. Not buying things or solidifying myself or trying to make my house bigger, or trying to show people how many Louis Vuitton bags I can get, or buying my way to a good seat at the table. My definition of success, again, is getting my ideas out there.

Thanks to Jonathan at The Candler Blog for the pointer; he also notes Glenn Kenny’s super-apt comment:

Clearly the problem with most Kanye West interviews up until now has been the interviewer.

The Wolf of Bedford Falls

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 20, 2013

Trailer for It’s a Wonderful Life, recut in the style of the trailer for Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Music is Black Skinhead by Kanye West.

Lou Reed reviews Kanye’s Yeezus

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 29, 2013

This summer, Lou Reed reviewed Kanye West’s Yeezus, praising the albums contradictions.

Very often, he’ll have this very monotonous section going and then, suddenly — “BAP! BAP! BAP! BAP!” — he disrupts the whole thing and we’re on to something new that’s absolutely incredible. That’s architecture, that’s structure — this guy is seriously smart. He keeps unbalancing you. He’ll pile on all this sound and then suddenly pull it away, all the way to complete silence, and then there’s a scream or a beautiful melody, right there in your face. That’s what I call a sucker punch.

He seems to have insinuated in a recent New York Times interview that My Beautiful Dark, Twisted Fantasy was to make up for stupid shit he’d done. And now, with this album, it’s “Now that you like me, I’m going to make you unlike me.” It’s a dare. It’s braggadoccio. Axl Rose has done that too, lots of people have. “I Am a God” — I mean, with a song title like that, he’s just begging people to attack him.

(via @dunstan)

The “troublingly retrograde” Yeezus

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 26, 2013

Thoughtful piece from Cord Jefferson on Kanye West’s retrograde attitude towards women (and particularly white women) on his recent album, Yeezus.

Kanye West has never advocated raping anyone. His persistent fixation on conquering white women — the lure of white women, injuring white men via their women, etc. — is troublingly retrograde for a multimillionaire who some consider to be the harbinger of a neo-Black Power movement. It ultimately gives lie to the fact that Kanye sees himself as “a god,” as he claims on Yeezus, or, as he told Jon Caramanica in that winding New York Times interview, that he is “so credible and so influential and so relevant.” I’ve yet to see a black man who is truly confident in his human worth and his power spend time crowing about ejaculating onto white chicks. What’s more, what does it yield West in the end? As Kiese Laymon asked the other day: “Do you think the white men who run these corporations you’re critiquing really give a fuck about you dissing, fucking, fisting, choking white women?”

I listened to Yeezus a handful of times when it first came out (and loved it, especially the production and beats) but had to stop because of just this issue. There is undoubtably something critical to be said about race and sex in America, but West’s hamfisted lyrics definitely aren’t it.

Kanye West is a confident gentleman

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 12, 2013

Jon Caramanica talks with Kanye West about his work, his past, his impending child, and all sorts of other things in the NY Times. I started pulling interesting quotes but stopped when I realized that I was copy/pasting like 96% of the article. So, you only get two:

I sat down with a clothing guy that I won’t mention, but hopefully if he reads this article, he knows it’s him and knows that out of respect, I didn’t mention his name: this guy, he questioned me before I left his office:, “If you’ve done this, this, and this, why haven’t you gone further in fashion?” And I say, “I’m learning.” But ultimately, this guy that was talking to me doesn’t make Christmas presents, meaning that nobody was asking for his [stuff] as a Christmas present. If you don’t make Christmas presents, meaning making something that’s so emotionally connected to people, don’t talk to me.

And I don’t want to ruin the amazing last few paragraphs, but I just had to include this:

I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z.

Celebrity make unders

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 15, 2013

Photographer Danny Evans photoshops images of celebrities so that they look like normal people. This one of Kanye and Kim is my favorite:

Normal Kanye and Kim

Man, I could stare at chubby Kanye all day. But the Tom Cruise one is pretty great as well:

Normal Tom Cruise

(via co.design)

Arrested Westeros

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 22, 2012

Last week Aaron linked to Kanye Wes. Turns out there is also Arrested Westeros (Arrested Development quotes + Game of Thrones scenes):

Arrested Westeros

Man, I wish Kanye Westeros were better. (via @JoshMorrison)

Kanye Wes Anderson

posted by Aaron Cohen   Oct 19, 2012

Kanye Wes Anderson is a Tumblr posting screencaps of Wes Anderson moves mashed with Kanye West lyrics resulting in a good time for all. Plus, Kanye and Wes totally hang out.

Kanye-wes-anderson-1.jpg

kanye-wes-anderson-2.jpg

(via @ryansholin)

Watch the Throne 2?!!

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2012

Kanye and Jay-Z are doing a second album together!

Kanye West’s producer Mike Dean, who co-produced part of Jay and ‘Ye’s Watch the Throne, has confirmed that there will be a Watch the Throne 2! While Dean revealed that a follow up album is definitely in the works, he was unable to give a specific time for its release.

Maybe they’ll call it Watch the Throner?

Yogurt gives mice bigger balls

posted by Aaron Cohen   May 07, 2012

In studying yogurt’s effects on obesity in mice, a team of MIT scientists discovered several unanticipated results. Basically, yogurt turned these mice into Kanye. Science is weird.

Mouse Swagger

First, the scientists noticed that the yogurt-eating mice were incredibly shiny. Using both traditional histology techniques and cosmetic rating scales, the researchers showed that these animals had 10 times the active follicle density of other mice, resulting in luxuriantly silky fur.

Then the researchers spotted something particular about the males: they projected their testes outward, which endowed them with a certain “mouse swagger,” Erdman says. On measuring the males, they found that the testicles of the yogurt consumers were about 5 percent heavier than those of mice fed typical diets alone and around 15 percent heavier than those of junk-eating males.

More important, that masculinity pays off. In mating experiments, yogurt-eating males inseminated their partners faster and produced more offspring than control mice. Conversely, females that ate the yogurt diets gave birth to larger litters and weaned those pups with greater success. Reflecting on their unpublished results, Erdman and Alm think that the probiotic microbes in the yogurt help to make the animals leaner and healthier, which indirectly improves sexual machismo.

‘Mouse swagger’

Update: Illustration by Chris Piascik.

Niggas in Paris at Midnight

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 14, 2012

This is so perfectly in the kottke.org wheelhouse that I can’t even tell if it’s any good or not: a mashup of Jay-Z and Kanye’s Niggas in Paris and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

(via ★davidfg)

All of Kanye’s “HUH”s

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 07, 2011

The other day while listening to Watch the Throne I wondered if someone had made a supercut of all of Kanye’s “HUH”s, “HANH”s, and “UHH”s…and of course someone has.

HENH??!

The best Watch the Throne album review you’ll read

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 16, 2011

Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan reviewed Jay-Z and Kanye’s album, Watch the Throne…and it is hilarious.

2. Lift Off (ft. Beyonce) - I almost aint wanna even comment on this shit son…. I dont even kno what to say bout it yo. This shit sounds like the anthem the fairies in Ferngully would use to go to war against evil humans to or some shit b. This shit is like Shia LeBeouf in song form yo. Lissenin to this shit is like havin ya ears penetrated by a million microscopic dicks namsayin. Shit sounds like niggas doin aerobics on a magical cloud of daisies. How many meadows did Kanye cartwheel across before he decided to make this beat? Seriously yo….

Seriously.

Update: The review was not written by Ghostface but it is still hilarious. (thx, all)

The Muppets sing Kanye West’s Monster

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 05, 2011

This is surprisingly well done.

Continuing with the unexpected Kanye groove on kottke.org this morning.

Josh Groban sings Kanye’s tweets

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 05, 2011

This might be even funnier than the Kanye Jordan Twitter acct.

How Kanye makes his musical sausage

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 29, 2010

Interesting piece on how Kanye West’s latest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, got made. Lots of good creative process bits, like this extensive quote from Kanye kollaborator Q-Tip:

“I’d never worked the way Kanye was working in Hawaii. Everybody’s opinions mattered and counted. You would walk in, and there’s Consequence and Pusha T and everybody is sitting in there and he’s playing music and everyone is weighing in. It was like music by committee. [Laughs.] It was fresh that everybody cared like that. I have my people that listen to my stuff-I think everybody does-but his thing is much more like, if the delivery guy comes in the studio and Kanye likes him and they strike up a conversation, he’ll go, ‘Check this out, tell me what you think.’ Which speaks volumes about who he is and how he sees and views people. Every person has a voice and an idea, so he’s sincerely looking to hear what you have to say-good, bad, or whatever.

“In art, whether it was Michelangelo or Rembrandt or all these dudes, they’ll sketch something, but their hands may not necessarily touch the paint. Damien Hirst may conceptualize it, but there’s a whole crew of people who are putting it together, like workers. His hand doesn’t have to touch the canvas, but his thought does. With Kanye, when he has his beats or his rhymes, he offers them to the committee and we’re all invited to dissect, strip, or add on to what he’s already started. By the end of the sessions, you see how he integrates and transforms everyone’s contributions, so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He’s a real wizard at it. What he does is alchemy, really.”

BTW, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is still on sale at Amazon for $3.99.

Kanye West + Tracy Jordan

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 27, 2010

One of last week’s top tweets made this observation:

Put “Liz Lemon,” in front of Kanye’s tweets and he becomes Tracy Jordan. “Liz Lemon, I wonder what happened to my antique aquarium.”

Tom Armitage knocked up a Kanye Jordan Twitter account so you don’t even need to work at imagining. The results are often sublime. (via jimray)

Bittersweet Poetry

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 03, 2010

Kanye and New Yorker Cartoons

You may have heard recently that Kanye West’s Twitter account is really something special. If you heard that, it’s true. If not, you’re hearing it now. Paul and Storm and Josh A. Cagan have made Kanye’s Tweets even better, though, by matching them with New Yorker Cartoons. Scroll through their Twitter feeds and you’ll find gold.

(Via The New Yorker)

Kanye is dead

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 27, 2009

Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead? Is Rapper Kanye West Dead?

Alexis Phifer

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 27, 2009

I now know who to thank for Kanye West’s wondrous 808s and Heartbreak: his ex-fiancee Alexis Phifer. She’s gotta be the Robocop, right? No short-term romance stings that bad.

Datamoshing

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 17, 2009

Two is a trend: Kanye West’s video for Welcome to Heartbreak uses the same video compression technique used in Chairlift’s Evident Utensil. The videos were done by two different directors at around the same time, which probably means that neither originated it. Does anyone know what the Patient Zero is for this technique? This Radiohead video for Videotape comes close but doesn’t use the compression artifacts to cleverly cut between scenes…which is the real artful moment here. (thx, andrew & demetrice)

Update: Here are a few candidates: Takeshi Murata, paperrad, and Mark Brown. (thx, matthew, simon & justin)

Update: Aha, the technique is called datamoshing. (thx, daniel)

Update: There’s a bit of datamoshing in this 2005 David O’Reilly clip and even more in a 2005 video made by Kris Moyes (Moyes briefly uses the same technique in this 2008 video for Beck). In 2004, Owi Mahn & Laura Baginski made a video called Pastell Kompressor in which they manipulated the compression keyframes in some timelapse videos. Sven König’s two projects, aPpRoPiRaTe! and Download Finished! originate around the same time (2004/2005). The technique itself seems pretty simple…just ignore the compression keyframes during playback. (thx, philip & sven)

Kanye West and his entourage

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 04, 2009

Kanye Entourage

Now I can’t get the theme song to H.R. Pufnstuf out of my head. (via jak & jil)

808s and Heartbreak

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 03, 2008

808s and Heartbreak, Kanye West. Everyone’s saying how good this is and I concur. Someone stomped on Kanye’s heart and out squirted a great album.

Kanye, Radiohead, mashup

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 29, 2008

Love Lockdown + Reckoner. Kanye mashed up with Radiohead, I pretty much gotta post it. (via delicious ghost)

This video makes me irrationally happy…I

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 09, 2008

This video makes me irrationally happy…I watched it four times in a row just now.

It was the freshest move I’ve ever seen, like he was floating on air.

And yeah, that’s Kanye West’s Vimeo account. His blog is entertaining as well; a recent favorite post is YOU CAN’T MAKE ME STOP POSTING YAGHTS!!!

Update: Vimeo erased the video because it was not original content so I pointed to one on YouTube. They also erased all but one video on Kanye’s account…I guess they were all videos by other people.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Kanye West’s new album,

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 27, 2007

I’m thoroughly enjoying Kanye West’s new album, Graduation. Standout tracks so far: Stronger and Homecoming, although it took me much longer than it should have to recognize Chris Martin’s vocals on the latter.