Separating Art from Artist

For ardent fans of Kanye West, the last 5 years or so have been tumultuous, to say the least. Whether it was the abrupt cancellation of the tour, his undying love for Donald Trump or his inability to accept that his political point-of-view was ill-informed or at best misguided. But during this time he has arguably created some of his best work at YEEZY, got his business affairs in order and somehow found a way to get HYPEBEAST kids to give a shit about Church, incredibly commendable. This raises an interesting question, can you separate the art from the artist? I’ve long believed Kanye West is the hip-hop version of Morrisey. They’re both incredibly talented in their respective musical fields but at the same time, they’re plagued by self-inflicted controversy brought upon by their counter-culture political views. Personally, I don’t mind it, I prefer my artist flawed and riddled in contradictions because it more accurately reflects my own existence. No-one’s perfect, we’re all trying to navigate this absurd thing called life, some have on different planes than others, with much higher stakes and so far I think Kanye is doing a decent job of it.

He recently sat down with GQ for an illuminating interview that touched upon loads of interesting topics, but I’ve attached a quote below that really resonated with me. You can read the full interview here.

A lot of the reaction to you wearing the hat was “How could the guy who gave us the gift of ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people’ now do this?”
Black people are controlled by emotions through the media. The media puts musicians, artists, celebrities, actors in a position to be the face of the race, that really don’t have any power and really are just working for white people. When it’s said like that, it’s kind of obvious, right? We emotionally connect to someone of our color on TV and feel that this person is speaking for us. So let me say this: I am the founder of a $4 billion organization, one of the most Google-searched brands on the planet, and I will not be told who I’m gonna vote on because of my color.

Now, if that speaks to you, cool. But I’m speaking for myself.

How does that apply here in Cody? Because you’re developing these hugely ambitious multiyear projects.
The word ambitious is not allowed to be used around me. Kanye West is nothing if not ambitious. Because ambition, when I hear it, it says that it seems like it’s almost impossible.

As though it has far-fetched tucked into it?
Far-fetched! Yeah, it’s got far-fetched tucked into it. You would be amongst 100 or 200 people on the planet who are like the least racist white person possible. But it’s something about the word ambitious that makes me feel like I’m young Venus Williams doing the TV interview when her dad had to come and defend her. If you say, “Yo, it’s ambitious,” I need Venus and Serena Williams’s dad to run up and say, “How you going to say it’s ambitious? He said he was going to do it!” Have I ever not done anything I said I was going to do? I made it back from addiction, I beat the predictions, brought real to the fictions—that’s off the new album.

Does the fact that nothing is ever really done slow down the momentum of everything you’re creating?
Time and space are man-made constructs. That’s my answer to that question right there. Art never fully explains itself, and art is never fully done. Me being normal—that’s not even a true statement. You know what normal is to me? An act. I can act normal, and that’s me as Clark Kent. But artists are people who have embraced themselves as a superhero.