Because it was, uh, a Wednesday, Kanye West saw it fit to embark on yet another tirade on a public platform yesterday. This time, the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Watching the interview in its entirety can incite in you a range of wildly different feelings towards the frequently misunderstood rapper. Here, we break down what you may have felt to better understand that emotional rollercoaster.
The Calm Before the Storm: FRUSTRATION
Poor Ellen tried her best to ease into the interview by tossing up the kind of softball questions you'd shoot an up-and-coming artist (and did so in the type of coddling tone one would use with a toddler), only to have them be met with the verbal equivalent of a punishment that didn't fit the crime. If Ellen was offering up the inquiries in her considerately cupped hands, Kanye was knocking them out with a smack.
"No." "Sometimes." "Maybe." "Perhaps." These were some of the responses Kanye gave to Ellen's unsuccessful attempts to bait him. She used playful questions about his kids, his wife, and even utilized a recollection of a story they shared together. But to no avail. If she was giving him an inch, he was doing the opposite of taking the mile, instead building a barricade between them with what seemed like bricks of indifference. It was enough to make you wonder why he came to the show at all. He’s famous enough that he could follow the lead of his equally-successful friend Beyonce, who stopped giving interviews around 2013—a move that per, I dunno, Lemonade's sales, has clearly had no effect on her stardom whatsoever. But, as a talk show host, Ellen is a far cry from, say, a Letterman who was known for his dour moodiness, so Kanye's unresponsiveness just came across as ungrateful. For him, someone who encounters intrusive paparazzi and aggressive internet trolls on a daily basis, an appearance on Ellen should've been a walk in the park.
The Eye of the Storm: SUSPICION-TURNED-SYMPATHY
Ever the professional, Ellen tried to keep the convo lighthearted. First, she suggested Kanye use a Board of Directors to review his tweets before he sends them. (Ha!) Then she ignored his disagreement entirely and asked, additionally, if he regretted any of his past postings. (Hilarious!) But here’s where she f—ked up: trying to use Kanye's much-publicized request to Mark Zuckerberg for $53 million as the premise and punchline of a joke. It's like watching a plane crash. The mythical smile that, until this point, had infrequently spread across his face was replaced by his standard scowl, and so begun the uninterrupted 7-minute story of a scorned man who did not receive the attention he so desperately believed he deserved. Bratty, right? (We'll see.)
When 'Ye begins to claim that he could "help the world" if only he had "more resources," you're not sold. You start Googling his net worth. $145 million? What more could you possibly need, 'Ye? Doesn't money talk in those circles, and don't you have copious amounts? And when he swears that he has "ideas that can make the human race's existence better—period," you want examples. How, Sway? Don't take the Donald Trump route of empty promises and secret strategies. The people want to know.
But when his manic stream of consciousness touches on the support of "multi-discipline artists," you remember you're a writer and that all your friends are creatives, so your ears start to perk up. You recognize that his mentioning of this year's lack of diversity at the Oscars, as well as his recitation of Rakim lyrics and his possible self-diagnosis of synesthesia, are tangential, but you permit them because they've gotta be part of a bigger point, right?
They are. And soon you're drinking the Kool-Aid because there's too much heart in his diatribe to not.
"We're a blip in the existence of the universe and we are constantly trying to bring each other down, not doing things to help each other. I feel that I can make a difference while I'm here. I feel that I can make things better through my skill set… I see the importance and the value of everybody being able to experience a more beautiful life."
These are the words that historical, or at least hashtagged, speeches are made of. So now you're not so sure you need the examples you just demanded as hard evidence; in fact, you're sympathetic toward him not being heard, and don’t understand who would ignore such an ambitious advocate. How dare you.
"I have…to break open the doors for everyone that will come after I'm gone, after I'm dead, after they call me 'Wacko Kanye.' Isn't that so funny? The people point fingers at the people who have influenced us the most? They talk the most shit about the people who cared the most."
By now, you're ashamed for ever doubting him. You've recognized that he's a man willing to become a martyr for the greater good. And, in fact, it wouldn't hurt to have more like him. It'd be exhausting, but not harmful.
The Aftermath: ENJOYMENT
Asking Kanye to participate in a game after coming down from a tirade seems, at best, pointless and, at worst, provoking. But his agreeance to do so gave way to us witnessing that dichotomous personality his friend and fellow Chicagoan rapper Chance the Rapper just waxed poetic about. Sure, in Kanye's typical fashion of contrarianism, he refused to follow the rules—though told multiple times to give three different answers on each turn, he either repeated the same reply thrice or gave only one—but this time, his brat-like disobedience was intentionally endearing.
He proved that frathouse humor is not lost on him—he takes the same joy in shouting "Balls!" over and over again on daytime television that a child would cursing in front of their disapproving parents—nor is the perception that he knows others have of him; when asked about what he does in private, he uses an unblinking, inexpressive stare to deadpan his response ("Smile.") and lets it linger for comedic effect.
Seeing ‘Ye smirk is as likely as catching the glimpse of unicorn, but you know that if people just listened to what he had to say, you'd probably get to witness it a lot more often.