Let’s tackle the sweeping vistas over a panoramic view into controversy. Let’s look into all the fuss over the Kanye West and Paul McCartney collaborative over a simple song titled “Only One”. Let’s tell tales of chickens before eggs and lingering controversies that challenge our collective and flash at us like quick silver divides.
Who’s using who in these controversial collaboratives in music when they pop up so wildly unexpected? Is it Kanye West–the lightening rod for random acts of controversy in and outside of music? Surely, he stands to profit from the genius of Paul McCartney, right? A Beatle, no less. That is the debate brought on by this collaborative that not only divides us and separates us across music genres, racial borders but over the mercilessly invisible passage of time. Yes, let’s add to that explosive mix the specter of time’s passing as in ageism–anyone?
To continue-to-continue the controversy, let’s throw in the irresistible urge to listen to Kanye’s “Runaway”, after a hiatus, referring to the 35 minute film that Kanye directed, produced and released as a visual enhancement to the album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. After a few years, the music is still consistently breathtaking and perfect. The visuals and story board narrative can be fanciful and naive, but it only adds to the experience.
It is beautiful and proves what Lou Reed raved about, that Kanye has taken his genre to a place no other has dreamed nor can touch. But, as all great music, it defies genre and crosses over, borrowing from classical and weaving in and out of great and timeless R&B this-more- contemporary-side of Stevie Wonder. Yet, few can take a melody or rap beat that’s established in one direction to a sudden and more exultantly surprising place like Mr. West so effortlessly can and does! Just when it’s following a path, it suddenly ends or morphs into another direction. Runaway is a gorgeously wonderful musical feat–better than the CD, that is just plain wonderful.
And by the way, not to detract, nor dismiss the proven and long established significance of McCartney, the new collaborative with Kanye–“Only One”–released a couple of days into this New Year, is beautiful and moving, simple and delicately paired down to Kanye’s vocals and McCartney’s keyboards–with a cello thrown in for mournful, yet sparse measure. It is sung from the perspective of Kanye’s dead mom, as an imagined dialogue and reminder of a love that can survive death.
Regardless of how iconic McCartney may ring in our collective, he smacks of retrospective and, quite literally, Yesterday. Thus the collaboratives with the flavor of the month, flash in the pans or even significant current artists. Even iconic guys have a hard time knowing which is which, sooooo guilty as charged of relevance by association.
As for Kanye West, could there be others in an admittedly microscopic minority, that despite the threat of getting pelted with random objects, will be compelled to say that one of the last things that the late, great Lou Reed published before leaving this earth, was a bristlingly-on-fire and brilliant review of Kanye’s latest release, “Yeezus”, praising it as much as one can still marvel over most of his previous release, “Runaway.” How’s that for crossing all these incendiary divides of race and genre? A lot of commercials used, and continue to use, the intro to “Runaway’s” title track to this day. It is arrestingly good and very much in our shared and subliminal collective as is and continues to be its highly deserving, gifted and controversial maker.