Kill Your Heroes

Why Chris Brown, Kanye West and Justin Bieber Aren't Your Mom's Faves

By Akil Wingate

Perhaps you’ve heard. It doesn’t pay to plunk down a fortune to see Kanye West and then ask him to remove his designer Maison Martin Margiela mask during his “Runaway” monologue. You’ll be ceremoniously dropkicked from the concert hall faster than Tim Tebow mid-Hail Mary from the NFL. It seems you have forgotten the unwritten rule. This isn’t entertainment. This is spectacle of the highest form where you, lowly peon that you are, are blessed to sit in the presence of Yeezus and marvel at his genius. Or so he would have us to believe. If you were in attendance at his recent concert in San Antonio Texas you watched with your own eyes as Mr. West jettisoned a woman from front of stage for asking him to remove his mask. "Do I look like a motherfucking comedian? Don't fucking heckle me.  I'm Kanye motherfucking West!" Yeezus exclaimed as security escorted her out.

What belies Kanye’s recent spate of rants and blowups on MTV VJ Sway’s Sirius radio show or on stage in (name any tour stop), is either hubris of the highest degree or utter insecurity. Shrinks would tend to lean towards the latter. But what is troubling about it is that consumers are lead to believe that such behavior is par for the course with “genius.” And that said consumers should shut up, buy the record, wear the shoes, support the concert tours, and watch the reality shows that populate every TV network that exists. That is all.

What Kanye, Chris Brown, or Justin Bieber don’t understand is that working class consumers are out to be entertained. Going to a Bieber concert or a West concert is not an evening at the opera. It’s not brain surgery. And it sure isn’t a debate about how to cure cancer. But it certainly costs the arm and the leg one would associate with doing so. Working class consumers out to a concert are out to enjoy themselves and escape the reality of their own lives for a few hours. Very few of the concert going public can empathize with Mr. West and his Versace or Gucci conundrums, when most of us are shopping Walmart. Just saying.

If there is any genius to be ascribed to West and his contemporaries, it certainly can be attributed to their business acumen. For all their lyrical chew of bling, designer labels and how much more richer they are than the rest of us; there is something to be said about stretching a dollar’s worth of musical material into millions worth of branding. Kanye has built a budding fashion empire and even talked himself into many a debate with his verbal faux pas about anyone from the POTUS to Taylor Swift. One would be forced to ask how much of this is out of the playbook of an agent provocateur and how much is willful ignorance. Somewhere in between the two probably lies the truth. West certainly isn’t the first to diversify his talents in other areas of the business game. Madonna can make a claim to laying down a solid groundwork for that.

Here are two things to discern from all the hype madness swirling around West, Bieber, Chris Brown or whoever the next rebellious upstart of the month might be.The question is not: is he a genius? The question is: are you buying what he’s selling?

Kanye West rant at concert (courtesy of robertcjwilson via Instagram)

Published December 8th, 2013

Akil Wingate is a writer and singer-songwriter based in Switzerland. When he isn’t writing, composing or touring, he usually can be found in the kitchen whipping a challenging recipe into shape.

@AkilWingate on Twitter and Pheed