Everyone is talking about Kanye West’s behavior at the Grammy’s again.
And, some might say that’s a good thing. After all, the man didn’t win any awards Sunday night, so he had to do something to get attention. Any publicity is good publicity, right?
My answer is an emphatic no. Bad publicity is quite simply bad publicity.
Now, one could argue that some Kanye fans are going to be fans no matter what and they just love all his attitude and bluster. But, for the most part, the industry and those who work in it are tired of his antics, his arrogance and his disrespect for any artist who isn’t Beyonce.
If you aren’t familiar with what happened, here is a brief run-down.
The incredibly talented and humble artist, Beck, won Album of the Year. In what seemed to be a moment of self-awareness, Kanye made a “joke” by “pretending” to rush the stage and take the microphone from Beck as he accepted the award – harking back to Kanye’s rude interception of Taylor Swift’s win at the 2009 VMAs. He got a big laugh from the crowd and Beck was good-natured about it.
Had Kanye left it there, the world would still be talking about him, but the talk would be favorable.
Unfortunately, he didn’t.
After the Grammy’s, he delivered a rant to E! that insulted Beck and the Grammy’s for not having given the award to Beyonce:
“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists, to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyonce. Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration.”
Beck, of course, has been an award-winning artist since the 1990s and not for nothing, but there were 63 producers and nearly as many writers on Beyonce’s album. Do you know who produced Beck’s album? Beck. He also wrote all of the songs and played many of the instruments on what is truly a terrific and very personal album. But, hey, he isn’t Beyonce, so I guess that means he doesn’t deserve to have HIS artistry respected.
Beck responded with his usual humility and grace saying he expected Beyonce to win and thought she should have won. As to Kanye’s diss of his music, he said, “you can’t please everyone.” And, went on to say he is still a fan of Kanye and loves his music.
While there certainly were plenty of Kanye fans defending his behavior online and even more asking who is Beck, many in the industry had a very different take on his bizarre behavior.
Singer Shirley Manson weighed in on the issue with an open letter to Kanye on Monday, in which she wrote,
“It is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry … you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely attack such an accomplished and humble artist like Beck. You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt. In attempting to reduce the importance of one great talent over another, you make a mockery of all musicians and music from every genre, including your own. Grow up and stop throwing your toys around.”
And, KISS frontman, Paul Stanley:
“Beck should’ve kicked Kanye right in the nuts and said, ‘Get the f— of MY stage!”
An “unidentified source” talking to Hollywood Life wondered why Kanye thinks it is his job to defend Beyonce and said Beyonce and her husband, Jay Z were not impressed:
“To say Jay Z and Beyonce were embarrassed by what Kanye had to say about Beck and the Grammy Awards is an understatement. First of all, Jay Z is a huge fan of Beck. Second of all, he doesn’t want or need Kanye acting like he’s part of Beyonce’s team because he isn’t. Both Jay Z and Beyonce don’t want to be associated with Kanye. They will put on their happy faces when they are around him and Kim, but that’s where the party stops.”
Even the usually affable Al Roker got in on the story:
“Why take away someone’s moment? And who are you to say that that Beck’s album — who, by the way, I believe is recognized as a very artistic fellow — was unworthy!”
Today host, Tamron Hall added,
“The word that bugged me in that rant was, [Beck] needs to ‘respect.’ No, you need to respect Beck!”
Now, some may support Kanye’s claim that race played a role in Beck’s win. Others may agree with Kanye that the “Grammy’s only care about commercialization and that’s why Beck won.”
But, if that’s the case, who is more “commercial” than Beyonce? Certainly not an alt-rock singer songwriter.
Billboard Magazine pointed out that Beck was – in fact – the worst possible target for accusations of “commercialization”:
The stats say a lot: Beyonce has been nominated for a Grammy 54 times, and the three trophies she picked up Sunday put her tally of wins at 20. West himself is the eighth most-awarded Grammy winner of all time, having picked up a statuette 21 times, out of 53 nominations. Which puts him in quite a place to pick on that Grammy hoarder Beck, who was picking up his fourth and fifth trophies this year, after 16 nominations. The “Beck always wins, dammit” meme exists purely in West’s head — as does the bizarre idea that a critically heralded, weak-selling alt-rock guy triumphing over Beyonce clearly means the Grammys are a commercial popularity contest with no interest in “art.”
It should be noted that neither Beyonce, nor Jay Z have officially responded to Kanye’s comments. And, that in itself speaks volumes. When the person you are “defending” doesn’t defend you, you have to wonder if it’s about time to shut up.
Will this latest display of arrogance and childishness hurt Kanye? Well, as I said, his diehard fans will probably not only stick with him; they will applaud him. But, I would be very surprised if he wins another Grammy after this and I imagine we will see him on another mea culpa tour like he did after the ’09 VMAs.
It is worth considering that his year’s Grammy’s were the lowest rated in years and the only thing that got anyone talking was Kanye’s behavior. But, again, if the talk is about what a loser you are, then, one can hardly claim anything good about it.
Billboard pointed out that an honest discussion about the awarding of awards according to genres and even race could have been warranted, but:
There is room to have a discussion about how genre or even race is represented in the dispersal of awards — but that is not the discussion West seemed eager to start. What the national conversation is about, instead, is West slapping down one of the most revered artists of the industry. He may not have just jumped the shark, he jumped a whole Sharknado — and even a future photo-op hug with Beck, like the one he shared with Swift last night, may not be enough to restore his reputation as a half-serious person. Our advice? West should record a meta-cover of “Loser” as fast as possible.
What do you think? Did Kanye further his brand of brashness and bullying by brashly bullying yet another artist? Or, is he approaching a point of self-parody from which he can’t return?