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A Retrospective on Sincerity by Matt Rigsby

In 2002, a brief newsbreak on MTV2 announced that relatively unknown producer Kanye West was involved in a near-fatal car accident near Los Angeles. If I’d told you ten years ago that he’d become the artist of our generation, you wouldn’t have believed me. By creating masterpiece after masterpiece, while also reinventing himself and his music, Kanye exemplifies and critiques the insincerity of the 00’s. As a deadly combination of producer and rapper, Kanye released The College Dropout in 2004. Sampling artists ranging from Marvin Gaye to Curtis Mayfield, he gave a glimpse into the life of a man who had finally made it as a musician. But even though he showed insight into rising out of poverty from the projects of Chicago, he hadn’t yet developed as a reflection of modern day culture, straying from songs that reflected his personal self. “Family Business” and “Through the Wire” began to do this, but the album repeated the common theme of today’s culture, hiding one’s true self for fear of being criticized. Beginning with the gentle notes of “Heard ‘Em Say,” Kanye began allowing more of himself to be shown. He transitioned from the brag-rap of The College Dropout to an incredible album with themes of returning home, family and death. He still had moments of well-produced songs which lack profoundness (“We Major”), but he found himself and created his most sentimental track: “Hey Mama,” a smooth-flowing rap that would give any son or daughter goose bumps. While accomplishing an encompassing album that refined his sound, West still concealed his sincerity. West slowly began to divulge himself on Graduation. He still exhibited bragrap, but with a new side: the second half of the album gave him another chance to show sincerity, with himself and his criticism. He created another ode, “Big Brother,” which was for Jay-Z. He showed his true feelings without fear of judgement; he could have easily turned this into a brag-rap about the two, but instead left us with the line “If you admire someone you should go on ‘head tell ’em/People never get the flowers while they can still smell ‘em.” The epicenter of this process of revelation was “Everything I Am.” He discussed everything from his criticism of rap culture and poverty in America, to the church, and most importantly, himself, changing his motives from blindly dissing his naysayers, to solemnly combating them. “So say goodbye to the N-double-A-C-P award/Goodbye to the India Arie award/ They’d rather give me the nigga-please award.” He wanted to be taken seriously and also took his detractors 9

Vinyl Tap Spring 2013  

WCWM 90.9-FM's semesterly music journal, featuring concert write ups, album reviews, and more.

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