Last week will be remembered as one of love and horror. On the 26th June, the US Supreme Court ruled that the American Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. The White House tweeted #LoveWins, and 26 million people changed their profile pictures with Facebook’s Rainbow Pride filter.
The horror came in the beach resort of Sousse in Tunisia, where on Friday 27th a gunman killed at least 40 people, including 30 British citizens. This coincided with attacks in France and Kuwait, which left a total of 60 dead.
Yet for a couple of hours on Saturday night, these events were eclipsed by a concert that took place in a field in Glastonbury featuring a 38 year old rapper, named Kanye Omari West.
Within minutes of his arrival on stage, Twitter erupted into life. When Kanye got ‘Kanye’d’ by comedian Lee Nelson, the social network went into overdrive. ‘Kanye’ became one of the top trending terms with over 110,000 mentions, according to Brand Watch. He may not have broken the internet, but Kanye sent Twitter into a meltdown.
Even before Kanye stepped on stage, over 134,000 people had signed a petition calling for his headline slot to be given to a rock band. This backlash against the rapper was not altogether unexpected. Back in 2008, Jay-Z became the first Hip-Hop act to headline Glastonbury, and faced similar criticism from rock music fans – most notably Oasis frontman, Noel Gallagher. However unlike Jay-Z, Kanye made few attempts to appease his detractors. Instead, he delivered a solo performance against a huge bank of lights, ensuring that all eyes were on him throughout.
To add fuel to the fire, he played the opening to one of the most highly revered rock songs of all time – Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Kayne not only sang over it badly, he appeared to forget some of the words. Yet he concluded his provocative performance by proclaiming himself “the greatest living rock star on the planet”.
On face value, this behaviour seems illogical. Kanye knew that huge numbers of rock fans were waiting to tear him down. He must have known how much it would annoy them when he included the legendary Queen song as part of his performance… unless of course that was all part of the plan. Most of us don’t enjoy being hated. We actively avoid doing things we know that others dislike. But not Kanye; he seems to thrive on it. At Glastonbury he revealed his secret super power to the world.
Kanye’s Secret Super Power
Sebastian Shaw is a Marvel super villain who appears in the X-men comics and is played by Kevin Bacon in the movie franchise. Shaw is a mutant who possesses the ability to absorb energy and transform it into raw strength. The more you throw at him, the stronger he gets. By absorbing successive blows from an opponent, Shaw can surpass the physical abilities of his adversary and overpower them. He has been shown to be able to take in an indefinite amount of energy without ill effects.
At this year’s Glastonbury, Kanye revealed that he has a similar super power. He feeds off other people’s negative energy. The more people throw at him, the more powerful he becomes. As he says in the lyrics to one of his most famous songs:
“N-n-now that that don’t kill me.
Can only make me stronger.”
Kanye is a rapper and Rap is rebellion. West represents an art form that was reviled long before it was revered. Rap music has produced a long list of figures that have exploited their notoriety from Biggie to Tupac, Public Enemy to Eminem. Hip-Hop is a counter-cultural movement that is at its most powerful when it stands in opposition to the mainstream.
So for all the people that enjoyed tearing down Kanye on Twitter, the bad news is, you played into his hands: Kanye West wants you to hate him. It makes him STRONGER.