A Logical Explanation for Why Kanye West Is Such an Asshole

Kanye West net worth
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Kanye West net worth
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Photo Credit: Rodrigo Ferrari / CC by 2.0

No one would describe Kanye West as a diplomatic master of social etiquette, but why is Kanye such an unrelenting, uncompromising asshole?

Here’s one take from Aaron James, whose book, Assholes: A Theory, deconstructs the set of characteristics that typically define the orifice.  The book, previewed in Salon, also focuses heavily on Fox News personalities and hits shelves October 30th.

It is instructive to compare West to asshole artists such as Pablo Picasso or Ernest Hemingway or Miles Davis.  None were mistaken about their greatness.  All were wrong about what their greatness entitled them to by way of special treatment from others.  Here it is harder to be understanding.  It is indeed desirable for a society to afford its great artists special opportunities for creative production for the good of all. But there are limits, and many true geniuses do manage well enough to abide by them, perhaps by nurturing a grounding sense of gratitude for being endowed with special creative privilege. Those who don’t are pure asshole. They take full credit for their achievements and expect further benefits in return, despite the fact that their success would never have happened without society’s gift of creative opportunity. (Artists who must fend for food or fight against an invading army tend not to get a lot of art done.)

Things could easily have gone differently and the artist would never have succeeded. Gauguin, for example, might have never made it to Tahiti if the boat from France had encountered bad weather or mechanical troubles, much as many great talents fail simply because they are ahead of their time. We put up with the artist’s delusion that his work is only to hicredit, that it is wwho are chiefly in his debt, because we find our world better with his artworks in it. Without that, however, the asshole artist becomes thoroughly repugnant. Imagine a faileartist who is not a genius, who continually demands further creative privilege, perhaps at a significant cost to society, and who cannot be moved by or even grasp gentle advice that he should consider working at Starbucks, where people are actually served. This guy, we want to say, is an asshole in spades.

19 Responses

  1. NotCoolManNotCool

    No. This whole thing is just another reason to hate on another man. What has he done recently thats SOOO bad that it deserves the world to hate him? In fact, what has he done ever to make the world hate him? He took a mic, expressed his opinion and people act like he created the holocaust. Kanye West is a successful artist and he should be proud of his work. Using Kanye as a scapegoat for your story since you clearly arent capable of reporting anything serious just shows how much of an asshole you are. Going back to the Taylor Swift thing, he even apologized, made a song about it for christs sakes! He got death threats! Its just amazing how ignorant but yet powerful the media really is. All you guys do is write an article on whatever the first retarded thing that comes to your mind is and then pay google to get it to come up first on the search results. You guys are disgraceful.

    • Sam

      That was a hell of a reply mate. These people are really a disgrace !!!! This article don’t even make some sense though Lol. Ohh media !!!!

    • Wale Amber

      You said it all. The US media is really ignorant but yet powerful.

  2. buddah

    Kanye is narcissist. For those who don’t know who Narcissus is, he was a hunter in Greek mythology renowned for his beauty. There are various versions of the story, but generally speaking, he drowned in a river because he was enchanted by his own reflection.
    To be called a narcissist is a few levels up from being plain ole pretentious. Kanye’s love for himself is contributing to incidentally killing himself. No man can withstand the type of negativity directed toward him over long periods of time.
    Take a look at his response to Jimmy Kimmel. What Jimmy did was more an ART piece than a COMEDY sketch. Jimmy mocked “the king” using his own words said by somebody else.
    The phenomenon of a narcissist is that when they listen to others speak, they hear the speaker as a non narcissitic person would hear them, but when they speak, everything they say sounds non narcissistic to them too, no matter what outrageous things are coming from their mouth.
    The thing about Kanye is that he is delusional. He seems to forget that he was given his position. He doesn’t cut his own checks, he doesn’t make his own beats, he has writers, a marketing team, and a group of people who constantly search the underground for a new sound that Kanye can get credit for.
    If a man was to start a label or tech company that grew massive like the one’s that pay Kanye, and the owner of that tech company made all of his beats, wrote his songs, and was APART of the underground, and used technology to side step traditional marketing, and actually revolutionize the industry, this person wouldn’t be saying what Kanye says, even though by some people’s logic, this person would have the moral right to say so.
    The thing is, when you have those abilities, you know your greatness, and it’s not interesting to let other people know the obvious, the interesting part is having the ability & know how to build something great that empowers others.
    Kanye isn’t that though. He’s an GOOD artist who has a GREAT team, and his rants are the sum of his inadequacies he feels for himself. Instead of mastering his craft, he uses words to try to convince people with crazy antics to get people to believe him. Even if the whole world believed he was a genius, he’d still talk crazy, because HE KNOWS INSIDE he’s not at the level he wants to be at, and it’s unlikely for him to reach it now.
    When you’ve mastered your craft, you go from a selfish life, to a life of giving, because the realization of your gifts tends to transform into something that serves others.
    Jimmy’s art piece was simple and effective. By using 2 children to reenact the interview and say the same words Kanye said verbatim, Kanye was forced to hear what he said the way the majority of the world hears what HE said. He didn’t like it because he knows it sounds bad.
    The milkshake was thrown in there to drive home the fact that you have 2 spoiled men acting like children in a multi million dollar studio talking about their importance.

  3. Yoko

    Kanye is an asshole. It’s ok to say it. Doesn’t mean he’s not great. But he is repeatedly an asshole who makes great art.

    • Gary

      Media whore . Can’t name one song (and I use that term VERY loosely) that he’s done. Don’t care aout him , wouldn’t miss him if he dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow.

  4. Visitor

    This could have been an extremely interesting book.
    But it’s plain silly to search for the unified theory of Hemingway, Picasso and — Donald Trump.

  5. Wes Davenport

    The message here is about two things:

    1) Being artistically gifted doesn’t entitle anyone to treat others like shit.
    2) Art isn’t successful because of the efforts of a single person. Other people have to come into the picture to elevate art. It could be as simple as a listener or as complex as a major label machine.

    I don’t know Kanye West. He’s never treated me unfairly, so I can’t speak to that. Yes, he is known for having a massive ego. But just by looking at his long list of collaborators, I’m sure he knows he’s successful in part due to the efforts of others.

    • Visitor

      “2) Art isn’t successful because of the efforts of a single person.”
      This is only true in the most literal sense; e.g. a brilliant artist obviously has to be born by someone and sell his art to somebody.
      But the most brilliant and often bad boys of art only have themselves to thank for what they’ve accomplished.
      You can replace any art dealer, employer, lover, singer, musician, publisher, fan and collector in the lives of Picasso, Bacon, Lennon, Spector and Hemingway, and you would still end up with outstanding works that would change the world forever.
      Because of the efforts and talents of one single person.
      And that person will always be bad in one sense or another because of his main characteristic — a need to change everything around him. For better or for worse.

  6. Scott Cruickshank

    Wait a sec, Kanye compared to Hemingway, Picasso and Miles Davis??!! Reality check, his peer group is more like Young MC and The Fat Boys.

    • lifer

      I became an admirer of Kanye’s work in spite of his rep.
      He is certainly important culturally and artistically though many readers on this site feel that sales figures are the only relevant barometer.
      The song that Gil scott heron sampled is brilliant and made me did into his work.

      The person mentioning Fat Boys would prolly go postal of I mentioned The Who or Zep in the same breath as The Archies. Never heard of them–ask Evan Bogart. Never heard of him?

  7. Jesus_Christo

    Why is Kanye an asshole? Well I’m sure it has a lot to do with how the press has handled him throughout his career. If you want to have a successful product as an artist, you better believe in exactly what you’re pushing and I have no problem with him coming off as arrogant for this. Look at Led Zeppelin. All of ther early records were absolutely murdered by the press, and Jimmy Page was sure as hell seen as “an asshole” during the time; but, they believed in what they were doing and did not compromise for the critics, and were able to yield massive success. Kanye is an asshole about his work because he has to be in order for it to get its due. Call it insecure, but if you won’t stand up for yourself, who will stand up for you?

  8. @pumpsessions

    Digital Music News get the Headline of the Week award.

  9. Voice of Reason

    Here’s the deal…Kanye is not a genius and his “music” is absolute rubbish…It’s not music. I don’t know what the fuck it is, but it sure isn’t music. And he’s an uber-asshole to boot. People will buy into anything I guess if they’re told what is good and what is not by the media and record labels,,,

    • Here hear

      You are right, the guy is merely an Attention whore and those who praise his “art” should get their heads out of their posteriors. Bull@&$t is all it is. Jay Z is even less endowed with talent. The emperors have no clothes, but you might want a clothes pin to avoid smelling their shyte.

    • Oz

      here here!
      no he’s not a genius, but certainly talented – to what extent is up for debate.
      regardless, in the absence of creators of exceptional competence and genuinely well-rounded/all-round ability, the great mass of idiots (ie. most people) desperatley cling on to whatever’s out there believing it to be whatever they want it to be, without having much of clue about anything really…

    • lifer

      Just as a point of reference it would be rad if you would share the names of what you consider to be music.

  10. Austin

    Swear to god fuck this guy he’s such a fucking dick that should go to hell.