Music is a religion, at least for me.
When an artist's sermon hits you it’s spiritual. When an artist's sermon connects with you, it helps you make sense of the world. You can live your life based on their teachings. Albums become Gospels and discographies become Bibles. We put our faith in artists in hopes they will one day enlighten us. We all have our preachers and gods.
I belong to the church of Yeezus Christ.
Yeezy season isn’t a time, a moment, or a single album. Yeezy season is a state of mind. Yeezy season is that excitement. Yeezy season is a feeling you get that no other artist can give you. His teachings have changed the way I live my life. Without him I wouldn't be a music blogger, I wouldn't love a good soul flip, and I wouldn't approach music the same way.
Ok, I'm not actually religious, but I have to imagine the feeling is similar to what Kanye's music has given me. Over the years I’ve put my faith into something that feels larger than me in hopes that I'll one day be rewarded. I go back to his teachings because they connect with me on a deeper level. I put my faith in Kanye because his music speaks to me.
Over the years my relationship with Yeezus has grown stronger and stronger. It started out with an awakening after hearing “Jesus Walks,” the irony is not lost on me, but it grew deeper. He’s helped me through bad times (808’s & Heartbreak) and he’s been there through the good (“Good Life,” “All Of The Lights”). The same way my Grandma can quote a Bible verse I can quote Late Registration. I’ve realized recently that fandom doesn’t come from one great album - very rarely does a single project make someone a fan—fandom comes from years and years of living and growing with that music. That’s why his music has such a strong hold on me. We all seek music for that excitement—those goosebumps, the chill up your spine—and Kanye has given that to me time and time again.
Faith and fandom can open us up and teach us new things but it can also distort reality. When you put so much time, effort, and energy into something, it’s scary to think it may not be what you thought it is (or what it once was). I’m a pulpit-beating member of the church of Yeezus Christ, but as So Help Me GodSWISH Waves draws closer, I have to admit I'm having a crisis of faith.
Kanye’s music doesn’t hit me like it used to and I’m losing faith he can still reach me.
There’s no more excitement. No more rush. I cling to the steadfast belief he is the end all be all, everything an artist should be, but I’m starting to feel like that's a historical ideology. It’s hard (and scary) to accept that artist that got me into blogging is no longer my muse, but it feels as though that’s becoming increasingly harder to ignore. I mean, when I think of Kanye the great, the one who gave me that excitement, it comes from College Dropout, it comes from Dark Twisted Fantasy or Late Registration. When I think of the Kanye that inspires meaningful debates or absurd investigations it’s the one who was married to his music, not a Kardashian.
It’s no exaggeration, nothing Kanye has released since Dark Twisted Fantasy has truly connected with me. It’s something so radically different that what I’ve believed for so long is almost hard to accept, but when I look through his discography, I can't ignore the facts. (No, not these facts.) The fact is I've really struggled to find meaning or have a deep relationship with nearly all of Kanye's offerings in the past half decade and it's not for lack of trying. I've kept the faith in the darkest of times, but throughout the drunken rollout of WAVES not one of Ye's songs has captured my full attention. And there's no sign of light anytime soon. The Kanye I fell in love with is the Kanye who poured every single ounce of everything he had into his music and that “heart” translated and captivated—see “Last Call” or “Runaway”—but I don’t hear it anymore. Religion and reality often clash and it’s no different here.
When I ask myself, “Why should I be excited about WAVES?” I can’t think of one good reason. I'm shocked to realize that, but it's true. I see him tweet “Greatest album of the life” and instead of being thrilled by the hyperbole I rolled my eyes.
Shouldn't I be excited? Should I have faith that it is, in fact, an 'album of the life' even though I don’t hear an old Kanye? Do I have to like "No More Parties in LA" because I like "They Joy"? Like with anything Kanye has done for the past few years, the rap blogger in me sees WAVES as a chance for pageviews and as a conversation starter, but as a fan, I can't think of a single reason to be at the computer come midnight on February 11. This whole album, from the songs that have been released to the roll out, to the two-year saga, it all feels very forced, very wrong. I wish I hadn’t but somewhere along the way, somewhere between "Murder To Excellence" and "Real Friends," I lost my faith in Yeezy Christ. That’s scary.
It’s very weird to feel this inner pull. I can't help but feel I’m hurling blasphemy, tearing down the pillars of the institution that shaped me, but it also feels right. At what point do I stop giving him a pass for albums he released a decade ago? Do I have to pretend this loveless marriage is still in the honeymoon period simply because “Devil In A New Dress” still gives me the feels? It doesn't change how I feel about his past albums, but heading into WAVES, I’m filled with doubt, apathy and uncertainty. I’ve tried to trick myself into getting excited, but I can’t do it.
I’m excited for Isaiah Rashad's new album, and man, I was pumped for Surf and Malibu. Compared to those, compared to the artists who currently inspire me, Kanye doesn't move me anymore.
I haven’t been excited for anything Kanye has done in six years. Why should I start now? That’s a long time to cling to a cliffside.
I thought he'd never let me down, but my fingers are getting tired.