3 January 2011
I. THE BASICS
So you’ve heard Kanye West talking shit like he’s the next Michael Jackson, no? If not try this one on for size: “As far as rapping goes, how can I say this? Jordan, Michael Jackson – it’s what I do.”
His attempts to insert himself in a royal lineage are subtle, no?
Well, actually no, he’s not being subtle at all. One of the primary tenants in Kanye’s five-point plan to achieve greatness is his understanding that subtlety has no place in pop.
1. Big H history is a matter of large forces — war, disaster, fortunes gained & lost. It is not determined by the people (as one of 2010’s dead would have us believe); rather it is determined by the fate of a nation’s “blood & treasure,” that poetic dyad which legacy-minded presidents and statesmen use to make war sound noble & necessary. It is a game of unimaginable resources; of living and dying; of a cast of thousands.
2. Pop history, by contrast, is a fickle bitch. It is usually a matter of memories (feeble ones incapacitated by the pop cult triad of sex & drugs & rock’n’roll); it is a matter of insistence via memoirs which depict all the fair weather friendships & alliances made in a pop art career; it is a matter of shadowy aesthetic influences cast forward arbitrarily a generation or two past their moment of initial fashionability. It’s a story of whispers, rumors and cross-generational games of telephone. Pop history may not be determined by the people, but it’s certainly chronicled in outlets like People (which, come to think of it, sorta does a guy like historian Howard Zinn proud).
At their best, pop stars learn a way to make their pop historicizing meld into real history. Read more »
Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis
Tags: Blood & Treasure, Crowdsourcing, George Bush, Howard Zinn, Hurricane Katrina, Kanye West, Memoir, Michael Jackson, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Obituary, Patti Smith, People Magazine, Pop Culture, Q-Tip, Quincy Jones, The Problem With Glamour, The Problem With Nostalgia