Is Kanye West's ego merited?

141839__kanye3_lDuring a three-hour van ride departing the desert set of Kanye West‘s ”Touch the Sky” video, EW’s Karen Valby asked the rapper, ”Do you ever allow yourself to just be dull and quiet? Just zone out with a good book?” He replied, ”No, I don’t. I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it.” Valby’s Q&A with West in the forthcoming issue (EW’s West cover story will be the one that doesn’t have him posing as a tortured Jesus Christ) is full of such pronouncements, but while it’s become commonplace to snicker at West’s grandiose opinion of himself, let’s give him his due.

First, his near-universal critical acclaim, eight Grammy nominations, and multiplatinum sales suggest that his self-regard isn’t entirely unwarranted. Second, when he does screw up, he’s his own harshest critic. Of his two disappointing videos for ”Heard ‘Em Say,” he says, ”’Heard ‘Em Say’ is my favorite song of all time that I ever did! So why couldn’t I have had a good video for it? Man, I feel like I sent my gifted child to a bad school.” Of the high standard he sets for himself, he says, ”When I’m working, when I’m creating my gifts for the world, I want it to be good. I’m like the guy in The Aviator. They already made a movie about my life story.” (Reminded that Howard Hughes ended up lonely and insane, West says, ”Well, I hope I can avoid that part.)

Does West live up to his own boasts? Should he just shut up and make music, or has his unchecked outspokenness become as essential and entertaining as his performances?

addCredit(“Kanye West: Kevork Djansezian/AP/ Wide World”)


Comments (39 total) Add your comment
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  • Brian

    Is Kanye West’s ego merited?

  • TO

    Sure, If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. However, proceed with caution, big egos, come with even greater elation at the prospect of you failing. It never hurts to inspire good karma, via a little modesty.

  • Ep Sato

    It’s all about image and style with Kanye. He’ll be hot and at the top of his game for a few years and then will be un periodico de ayer. Kanye knows that and is milking the fame for everything it’s worth while he can. He could be like Madonna, Sinatra, and the Stones, successful for the whole career. OR he could end up like James Brown did. Here’s the painful reminder:

    THAT’s why Kanye is trying to live it up now. He knows a low point and a “behind the music” special are sooner than anyone expects.

  • Tom Brazelton

    I don’t feel his ego is merited, but you’re not going to get noticed sitting on your hands, either. Especially this day and age.
    Ep Sato suggests West could be like Madonna and have a lengthy carerr, but it isn’t as if Esther wasn’t know for her hubris early on. Wasn’t she the one who said she wanted to “Rule the world” when Dick Clark asked her where she saw herself in 5 years? Wasn’t that back in 1984?

  • Stef

    I don’t have a problem with Kanye talking about how great he is, just because I think he IS great. If there ever comes a day where his mouth overshadows his musical talent and achievements, then I will no longer be a fan. That day has not come yet, in my opinion.
    What I do have a problem with is his putting others’ efforts down in order to boost himself. Maybe he thinks he was the best new artist of 2004 and feels he can complain about it, but how should the winner feel? Don’t try to steal others’ victories. Also that Jesus cover is just lame and has been done, better, by Tupac.

  • Tim Duffy

    Kanye’s ego is his thing. The central artistic conflict in his work is his ability vs. his expectations of that ability. It’s that disparity that makes him so significant. The question isn’t weather his ego is merited it’s weather it is an effective artistic tool. And with two classic(ish) albums spent walking the line between overt boasting and self deprication, I think he’s prooven it a worth while artistic platform.
    Will it get old soon? This seems likely.

  • nathan

    Kanye’s ego was more merited on his first album. While we’re on egos, will someone please tell Jamie Foxx that we are all aware he was on the Gold Digger track, and we don’t need to be reminded every time the guy is on a talk show, if he sings “she takes my money” one more time, I’m gonna YAMO burn this place to the ground.

  • Danny

    ”’Heard ‘Em Say’ is my favorite song of all time that I ever did! So why couldn’t I have had a good video for it? Man, I feel like I sent my gifted child to a bad school.”
    That was the quote how he was his own harshest critic and, dare I say, down to earth? Comparing a music video with a child’s education?
    I can’t stand Kanye. Anything he does musically is overshadowned by his extremely unmerited ego. It’s a very thick, blurred line in the music industry between arrogance and the confidence one needs to succeed and be heard, and yet he still manages to cross that line by miles.
    PS~ I agree with whoever said Jamie Foxx needed to stop reminding everyone on Gold Digger. That was such a perfectly horrific combination of egos it’s almost amusing.

  • Aaron

    I love the guy, and respect his music…but he isnt Jesus, nor has he yet to make history. You’re a pop star – please keep it down, your ego is irritating.

  • brandonk

    I don’t like his music, but aside from that, who wants to be around or listen to an egomaniac? It’s not attractive. Kanye West isn’t the only one with that problem. Seems like a lot of rappers like to talk about how great they are. Singers in other genres and actors and more common people are boastful and prideful, too, but it seems especially endemic to rappers.

  • Tom

    He may be egotistical, but he’s also sensitive and intelligent, unlike a number of celebrities.
    He dared to take a stand against homophobia in hip-hop, and he should be applauded for that. Promoting tolerance for gays and lesbians is commendable. He didn’t have to do it – and he did.
    He also says a lot of things that are on people’s minds. Maybe his criticism of President Bush was too implusive and brash, but at the time, that was what a lot of people were thinking – right or wrong.
    As for the posing for Jesus Christ photograph, let’s remember Madonna did that 14 years ago for Entertainment Weekly.

  • Rishi

    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical
    He is egotistical

  • Sean

    West is undeniable talented. And his outbursts and boasts were refreshing when he first came out. But now they have become his schtick and the schtick is getting tired.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Kanye’s such a fresh MC, I don’t care if he is egotistical. I’d rather him be coceited as all hell than him make mediocre music about ‘grillz’ and the legions of thick hoes he conquers, like most “MCs” these days. Anyways, is anyone still surprised at what he says anymore? Why is this still even a topic?
    As for the Rolling Stone cover, I’ll be sure to pick up a copy for myself.

  • miv

    First off, kudos to Nathan for the 40 yr old virgin reference…i can’t ever heard michael mcdonald the same again!
    2nd, i applaude people for having confidence rather than a lot of the faux self-deprecation act a lot of celebrities do, BUT i do think it’s becoming a bit overkill, but i don’t think he’s going anywhere anytime soon.
    no comment on the kanye as jesus cover.

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