The yin and yang of Kanye West and the media
Like many of you, I’ve been digging Kanye West’s GOOD Fridays where he has been throwing out a new or previously unreleased track every Friday to the common people. While these tracks may or may not feature on West’s upcoming …
Like many of you, I’ve been digging Kanye West’s GOOD Fridays where he has been throwing out a new or previously unreleased track every Friday to the common people. While these tracks may or may not feature on West’s upcoming album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, the idea is one of 2010′s most smartest promo moves. Here’s an A-game pop star giving away a new tune every week and letting the internet take care of the business. It helps that the tracks are pretty sharp too - “Monster” is already one of my favourite tracks of the year (thanks in no small part to Nicki Minaj rocking the mic for a verse which sents the tune into another dimension – let’s hope her debut album will be as hot as that) and “So Appalled” isn’t too shabby either.
Then, there’s Kanye on Twitter. He hit the (currently) most fashionable social networking site like a bat out of hell, tweeting morning, noon and night. But while he’s not the only celebrity with a dose of tweeting diarrhea – c’mon on down Fiddy – Kanye is one of the very few who has articulated how Twitter changes his engagement with fans. Per West in a long stream of tweets a while back, Twitter means he can have an one on one conversation with folks without pesky media interviewers applying a filter to what he says. Of course, this set off some predictable pointyheaded discussions about how this move signals the death of the music magazine (an entity which must be vampiric at this stage judging the number of burials it has had), but that’s just a side issue.
But why would an artist like West even bother doing interviews at this stage of the game? When the new album lands, he’ll be five albums deep into a chequered career. Sure, he needed to do the press at the start and he spoke to everyone who stuck a microphone, dictaphone or battered cassette-recorder in front of him. I remember interviewing him back in 2004 when he was touring “The College Dropout” and he was great value as an interviewee. Yet it’s hard to know why he’d bother doing press interviews now. We know who he is, we know there’s a new album out, we know what he has to say because he’s tweeting morning, noon and night. Does he really need to jump through the hoops again?
Unnecessary media-whoring doesn’t just apply to West. Those of us in the writing-about-music game know all about the reluctant interviewees. These are the ones who sigh and tut and mumble when they come out to talk to the press. You can tell from their demeanour and answers that they don’t have a blind bit of interest in doing interviews and, many times, you can’t blame them because they have absolutely nothing to say. When I meet these lads and lasses, I always wonder why they bother. After all, they’re adults (most of ‘em) so they can just turn around to their manager or PR and say “no thanks, I don’t want to do interviews”. To be honest, I’d have far more respect for an artist who said that rather than played a game they’d no interest in playing. Then, when they do decide to do interviews, all involved will know that they at least have something to say.
But West is someone who is genuinely fascinating and always has interesting things to say. An interview with him will always provide some memorable quotes, some fresh thinking and some audacious boasts (such as the brouhaha which ensued when he proposed that he should get a cut of magazine sales if he was on the cover). He’s also someone who, you imagine, won’t be just content to stick to Twitter when it comes to talking the talk. Like Jose Mourinho or Peter Mandelson in other fields, he has an amazing understanding of how the media works and how he can exploit that to his own advantage. Expect a huge flurry of interest when West decides again to have a rumble in the media jungle.