Jack Tame: If Kanye is crazy, it's worth it

Hate all you want on Kanye, but his most aggressive critics cannot argue the man always changes the game. Always refreshes, challenges, provokes. Photo / AP
Hate all you want on Kanye, but his most aggressive critics cannot argue the man always changes the game. Always refreshes, challenges, provokes. Photo / AP

I gave up on home ownership dreams and bought tickets to Kanye West instead.

Madison Square Garden. Sellout nights. More people than for basketball or hockey games, or for any concert in history. According to Kanye, it was the most people the fire wardens had ever allowed inside.

There was no warm-up act because Kanye doesn't need one. There were no dancers or backup singers or celebrity appearances because, really, Kanye doesn't need them. The lights cut and in the smoke and haze he came out and dropped his head. He waited, ominous and all-powerful.

An English student could write a master's thesis on the imagery of the production design. Instead of a stage, like at a normal concert, where crowds crush to the front and dozens of people lose their shoes, Kanye floated.

On a 5x5m magic platform, he slowly hovered above the mortals, drifting to different parts of the arena above the delirium at his feet.

From the underside of the square, searing lights examined the masses, like an alien spacecraft lowering to Earth.

I cannot write of Kanye without acknowledging his mania. Obama called him a "jackass". Between the rants and the absolute self-aggrandising, he must be an extraordinarily difficult person to live with.

But so much of pop culture and modern media is sanitised and mass-produced, formulaic and predictable.

Hate all you want on Kanye, but his most aggressive critics cannot argue the man always changes the game. Always refreshes, challenges, provokes.

Honestly, what more can you ask for in art?

At Madison Square Garden, 90 minutes were up. Kanye rapped and sang and occasionally stretched his hand to the plebs on the Garden floor.

Always just out of reach. A light beamed down from the dead centre of the sky. Was this the Rapture, perhaps? Would Kanye ascend to the heavens?

Nope.

Just like Dylan, he wouldn't even play an encore. But then I suppose Kanye doesn't need to.

There is an oft-referenced line on The Life of Pablo, an album best experienced in its entirety as a sort of modern hip-hop symphony.

In Feedback, Kanye raps, "I can't let these people play me. Name one genius that ain't crazy!"

If crazy is the cost of his genius, I'll foot that bill every time.

• Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB, Saturdays, 9am-noon

- Herald on Sunday

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