It seems like Kanye West has lived in the media my entire life. Although he is a rapper, many know him for his erratic actions such as the "Taylor Swift Scandal". With his resurgence to Twitter, Kanye seems to be all that anybody is talking about. His recent release of the (semi)self-titled album, "Ye" has only increased his presence as a household name.
And honestly, after only one listen I'm completely hooked.
I'm not going to lie and say that he hasn't said some extremely problematic statements, such as slavery being a choice... I'm just saying that after really listening to his lyrics I see the method behind the madness.
"Ye" provides a lot of insight into the ugly truth about mental illness and critiques the norms of society. Even if you don't agree with his statements, you have to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the man is more woke than we like to give him credit for.
1. "I put my hand on a stove, to see if I still bleed, yeah / And nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free"
If anything, Kanye West is honest. Frankly, I appreciate how openly he discusses mental illness. It's not romanticized. It's not dramatized. It just is what it is. These lines speak to the 'why' of self-harm. Depression can hurt, but it can also leave you feeling numb. Often, people self-harm because they just want to feel something-- because hurting is better than nothing at all.
2. "And I think about killing myself / And I love myself way more than I love you"
"I Thought About Killing You"Giphy
We all know that nobody loves Kanye like Kanye loves Kanye. For that reason, it makes it extremely difficult to conceptualize how he could contemplate suicide. But suicide isn't synonymous with self-loathing. His lyrics graze the idea that perhaps he views suicide as a way to care for himself; it is a way to save himself from the pain of navigating mental illness.
3. "Cause now I see women as somethin' to nurture / Not somethin' to conquer"
Okay so the feminist in me really struggles with these lyrics because BY NO MEANS do I need any many to nurture me. And although his lyrics reinforce the Madonna-whore complex, when looking at "Violent Crimes" broadly there is a deeper message. Kanye speaks to the idea that many times it takes a personal connection to see humanity in others. This notion can be applied to racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and so on. Until somebody we know is directly effected we choose to be blind.
4. "The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest"
"I Thought About Killing You"Giphy
I think that as a people, we try really hard to suppress any negative or "dark" thoughts we have. We are a society built open appearing happy and whatever expense. But Kanye hits the nail on the head. One cannot exist without the other. Sometimes it takes darkness to see and appreciate what is beautiful. It is the lowest moments that make the high all the higher.
5. "Sometimes I scare myself"
Sometimes its exhausting hearing, "you're scaring me". Sometimes you want to scream, "YEAH WELL I'M SCARING MYSELF". Mental illness is not just scary for those watching from the outside. For those living it, it can be a nightmare. Sometimes, those with struggling with mental illness are just as taken aback by their thoughts as the observers.
Okay, so maybe Kanye West has his flaws, but we all do. That doesn't mean we shouldn't applaud him for opening the door for an authentic conversation about mental illness and the struggles of life.
Try to resist all you want, but his dragon energy is unparalleled.