Free speech is one of the most important and powerful things there is. Countries have been founded on it, and people have died for it. That being said, sometimes I find myself in conversations about how to make Kanye West shut up.
Because sometimes, it seems that as long as Beyoncé is making albums, we're going to suffer through the tradition of Kanye interrupting awards ceremonies when she doesn't win. This will be followed by comments about 'real artistry' and apologies that aren't so much heartfelt as they are another grab for attention. It's enough to make you wonder if someone could ban him from awards ceremonies, or wire his jaw shut again.
Kanye was wrongfully back in the news last week after apologizing to Beck and Bruno Mars on Twitter. Does Beck, or anyone, really care if Kanye informs a social network he's making a public apology after trashing the grammy-winning record Morning Phase? The problem is that West thinks everything he says is gold, because the media treats it that way. It's also why so many people are sick of him- Everywhere you look, there's just too much Kanye, all the time, and that includes the good, the bad, and the ludicrous.
Kanye does pull some ridiculous stunts, and not all artists would be as courteous about being interrupted as Beck. But, I can't blame him alone for his behavior. Remember how George Bush used to make headlines for questionable grammar and misinformed statements? And how the Internet exploded every time Amanda Bynes went off the rails? Celebrities who do or say crazy and controversial things are the most quotable and popular. And nothing has as much headline potential, however convoluted, as a good Kanye West quote, whether he's telling us he "would never want a book's autograph," or that his apartment is too nice for rap music, or that he feels a crushing sense of responsibility if he wakes up next to a water bottle on an airplane.
By placing more importance on the wilder things he says and does, the media and its audience is forcing him to act that to get attention. It's what he expects us to expect from him, and just like a class clown whose only power is disruption, it's hard for someone to stop that behavior and risk leaving the spotlight. But there's always been evidence that Kanye is interested in discussing more sophisticated things- he recently gave a lecture at Oxford University where he dropped Beyonce-free statements like, "Time is the only luxury. Its the only thing you cant get back." Most artists will rise to a higher standard if you insist on holding them to it. In his interview with Zane Lowe, he gave some great insights about class and wealth, because his interviewer was receptive to that instead of trying to bait him to give off-the-wall statements. That's what every interviewer should be doing with all artists they talk to.
We should take one of hi quotes from the Zane Lowe interview as advice: "It's about whatever I want to make it about. Its my world." Our world could be about more than gossip and banal pop banter if we made it that way.
Watch Kanye West be more than a stupid sound byte during his interview with Zane Lowe: