Happy 39th Birthday to Hip Hop’s Cultural Maverick Kanye “Yeezy” West!

By: Laurean D. Robinson

June 8, 2017 12:29 pm EST

So strip away the notoriety – the $53 million loan request tweet, the emotionally-charged rant on Ellen, the street urchin aesthetic of his last fashion line, his marrying into the most attention-getting reality star family of all time.

What do you see?

Then put your headphones on and  listen to his immense body of work by yourself -the freshman mixtapes, the polished College trilogy of College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation; the percussion-driven 808s & Heartbreak; the sexually subversive My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; the gilded Watch The Throne, the alternative loner Yeezus, and the most recent The Life of Pablo.

Did you finish?

That’s okay. I won’t tell anyone.

After that, head over to YouTube (or his own website) and watch West’s Vevo channel for his music videos and live performances.

What do you notice? How does the music make you feel?

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That is the genius that is Kanye Omari West – son of a college professor in English, the late  Dr. Donda West, and the urban mecca of Chicago. You hear the social commentary of institutions that keep black and brown youth either locked up in the prison system, disinterested in school or enslaved to capitalist greed that the media co-signs on.

Like fellow Geminis Tupac Shakur and Prince, ‘Ye oscillates between arrogant machismo and insightful critical analysis of a culture that leaves college graduates broke and unemployed, devours groupie girls chasing the “ballers” instead of happiness and brainwashing boys of color into believing that “ballers” lifestyle would solve all of their problems.

What makes Kanye so interesting as an artist is that he recognizes his own flaws. He knows he’s NOT God (despite what your favorite entertainment show likes to insinuates). He’s more like Yeesus, the son of God who is shaped by human fragility and ethereal creativity.

So on this day, weigh in on the artistry of this “soul beats” producer, rapper,  singer, songwriter, record producer and fashion designer.

Hopefully, you will hear and appreciate what I have all along.