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  • 24Dec

    On Kanye as Puffy, and how rap will lose at dominating the universe.

    It’s a difficult time in the Puff Daddy evolution of Kanye West.

    Throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s, Sean Combs occupied a most important space in the development of hip-hop’s pop cultural development that Mr. West clearly realizes that he now must occupy – the public face of rap’s evolution. Puffy set the standard. Hard as a gangster and smoother than Denzel with the social barometer of Dr. King and rap songs that recalled everything we ever loved about everyone from Kool G. Rap to Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Run DMC and every significant New York moment to date, he excelled. At his height as the embodiment of rap’s pop cultural zenith as the best of progressive American art, his Bad Boy label launched Biggie, Ma$e, the L.O.X., Junior M.A.F.I.A., 112, Lil Kim and ¬†Faith Evans. All achieving various levels of success, he took the best of rap’s then established notions of excellence to the pantheon of America’s evolving idea of what popular culture could embody. In 2013, Yeezy’s goal is clear and his team is strong, but success is not entirely guaranteed. Having to sell the best of what rap has become now as the leading notion of American pop culture to the global and digital universe is difficult. In Kanye West not exactly being the best person for the task, we get a sense of where rap’s gone wrong and where it needs to go right.

    Whereas Puffy excelled as a marketing genius and hype man extraordinaire, Kanye completely fails. 2012′s most hysterical yet true notion is that he took an entire year off from rapping in order to learn how to engineer the success of other people. Sean Combs is a fairly pedestrian emcee, but as a party planner and tastemaker, he was – even then – a living legend. In being able to point at Biggie, Ma$e, Kim and a plethora of others and play point/counterpoint with his middling level of rap skill but world-renowned cosign was genius. As arguably one of the finest lyricists and tastemakers of the modern era, Kanye can’t exactly replicate Sean Combs’ brilliant marketing ploy with 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Pusha T. In arguably being the best of all worlds, Kanye West can only sell you on Kanye West. In ‘ye taking 2012 to have you seriously regard the worth of his intellectual motivators and shadow of brilliance, it doesn’t necessarily co-sign any of these men as greater than anything, it makes them equal additions to the sum of one great man. On one level that’s entirely impressive, on yet another, it’s also absurd and terrible. On all fronts, it’s absolutely true, and that’s unfortunate.

    Some may argue that rap needs nobody to tell you just how great rap is right now. Just like everything in this divided power game between human and digital strength, it’s viral, over-discussed and literally everywhere. As much as Psy is Korean and dancing, he is a rapper; so hip-hop went for a billion on Youtube this year, too. However, in this ridiculous din, somebody has to stand up and shine what needs to be the biggest spotlight at the biggest time. Someone has to be willing to be selfish enough to get you to care about them, yet selfless enough to tell you about everyone else who isn’t just better than they are, but the best in the world at what they do. Thus, we should all care because they expand historical antecedents and are important and worthy of everything. Kanye wants to be God and Jesus at the same time. Sadly, when that’s your station, you aren’t allowed to be the preacher, too. For rap to expand on a global scale, we need a preacher. There are NO preachers.

    The rise of spotlight avoiding, “everybody is an individual” beta society to being at the forefront of popular culture is an unfortunate situation for rap at the present time. As stated earlier, when Puffy took rap to the top of American life, he embodied Shaft, Superfly, Denzel, Malcom, Martin and Def Jam, at the same damn time, and had the ability to galvanize an entire army behind him that was already gifted, but arguably stronger under his influence. Mixing the best of black alpha archetypes with a guarantee of success in their unique application, is an idea that for most, if not all of now individualized rap America (of all races or creeds) that is entirely beyond approach. By comparison to Puffy leading rap to dominating America, Kanye leading rap to dominating global and digital ideals is possible, but arguably can not and likely will not occur.

    With 2 Chainz as Biggie, Big Sean as Ma$e, Pusha T as The L.O.X., and Kanye better than them all, 2013 finds the Louis Vuitton Don leading rap’s assault on global and digital cultural domination. Honestly, this is a fight rap can not win. In likely being greater than the sum total of his parts, Kanye is a terrible general. Sadly, influencing the entire globe and the internet as well is a job that can’t be handled by just one man. Attempting such a revolution is necessary and rap’s goal. Attempting it with Kanye West? Emblematic of everything wrong with rap, and what may end up being hip-hop culture’s biggest loss-to-date. Jesus was a martyr. Kanye likely will be as well.

    Rap’s so terribly close, yet so completely far away. Strange days lie ahead.

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