Kanye West's Debt Rant Reveals An Interesting Juxtaposition Between His Claims & His Lyrics
Oh, Kanye. Where do we begin? When Kanye West live streamed T he Life Of Pablo,West fans and non fans alike were either ecstatic, perplexed, or too busy being both at the same time to take their eyes off the "performance." But Monday night, as the majority of West's musical peers attended the Grammys, the artist was nowhere to be found. Perhaps because he was planning a massive Twitter spree. One that he would later put out at 3 a.m. that would be composed of 26 separate tweet confessions, all detailing his struggle with money. Oh, and announcing how Kanye West is in $53 million dollars worth of debt.
In one of the most interesting tweets sent out that night (which is saying a lot, truly), West claimed that "money doesn't make [him] who he [is]." And though you could argue West has many personas (a musical persona, a celebrity persona, a fashion persona, etc.), the question remains: Does West's music support that claim? If we take a look into the lyrics of some of his songs, one theme becomes clear. His relationship with money has always been complicated and full of contradictions. There's no definite or clear answer. But, like all things Kanye, maybe that's the point.
1. "All Falls Down"
At the peak of West's early career, "All Falls Down" stood as a pillar of honesty amongst a sea of materialistic rap songs. According to West's lyrics, money can't buy you happiness: "It seems we living the american dream/ But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem/ The prettiest people do the ugliest things/ For the road to riches and diamond rings."
2. "Gold Digger"
Though it's seen as one of West's more comical songs, the financial commentary within "Gold Digger" — whether it intends to or not — paints a picture of West's attachment to money.
3. "Two Words"
If you take the line "I live by two words, f**** you, pay me" at face value, you'll miss what West raps afterword. "I can't let 'em change me... look God, it's the same me."
4. "Can't Tell Me Nothing"
This song in particular holds conflicting viewpoints on money. From oscillating between West's spending habits ("I had a dream I can buy my way to heaven/ When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace") and his more humble roots ("I guess the money should've changed him/ I guess I should've forgot where I came from"), "Can't Tell Me Nothing" doesn't know where it stands. It probes all the right questions, but doesn't directly answer them: "Wait till I get my money right/ then you can't tell me nothing right?"
5. "Good Life"
The most telling line from "The Good Life" (a decidedly upbeat, pro-money tune on first glance) is this: "Having money's not everything, not having it is." As a song that glamorizes what money can buy (champagne, private jets, etc.), it sure undercuts those things real quick.
6. "Who Gon Stop Me"
The Jay-Z and West track takes on more than just money, but does put cash at the forefront of its lyrics. The hook sung by West and Jay-Z says "Whole lotta money in a black bag, black strap, you know what that's for," but, in the bridge, West raps "Ya'll weed purple, my money purple." I can't say for sure what he means by "purple money" but my guess is that it's a reference to Monopoly money — an indiscreet way for West to retract his statements of "Whole lotta money" by reminding us that none of it's real anyway.
On the boisterous tune from the new album, West raps "10 thousand dollar fur for Nori, I just copped it/ Your baby daddy won't even take your daughter shoppin" and "We made a million a minute, we made a million a minute, ah!" The content seems to strikingly contradict West's earlier work, where he still seemed uncomfortable with living so extravagantly. Here at least, he's more than embraced what his career has afforded him.
Maybe money didn't make Kanye, but it certainly did shape his music.