Kanye Of The Stone Age
by Shannon Smith
I have been on Team Kanye since the day my mum started playing the infamous Late Registration on the journeys to and from school back in 2005. From the surprising celebratory vibes of Touch The Sky to the intricate storytelling of Drive Slow, Late Registration just oozed with hard blows, passion and utter coolness that circa 2005 Shannon just loved. The lyrics that he spit were witty, furious and bursting with West’s famous egotism. That was around ten years ago; Kayne has been through many a musical metamorphosis and almost engulfing controversy but in the Smith household, we are still very much on Team Kayne. Part of the reason, for me anyway, this is that his lyrics are still as overflowing with his stylized persona.
Kayne this year, as ever, has been the centre of the media onslaught for many an incident, but my focus is on West referring to himself as “the greatest living rock star on the planet” during his Glastonbury set. As expected, as soon as West uttered those unashamedly Kayne-filled words, twitter was engulfed in outrage, horror and West-filled hate. “How on earth could Kayne seen himself as a rock star!?” they cried.
Fast forward to this week, aside from the the birth of the prodical son Saint West, the French producer ToToM released Kayne Of The Stone Age, full seventeen-track Kayne/Queens Of The Stone Age mashup album to almost mass love from the online world. By combining the rhymes of West with the heavy rock beats of Queens Of The Stone Age, ToToM has shown the world how this mashup can sound surprisingly awesome. (Well, to some it may be surprising, but not to Kayne - he does not need anyone’s validation, he knows he is damn awesome!)
The mashups created by ToToM range in how well they work together. Example where the Kanye/Queens have reigned supreme are though Better It Giveth and Jesus Walks With The Flow, where Kayne’s dominant and hard-hitting lyrics match perfectly with the Queens’ provided backing. Diamonds On The Hollow was a track that I found to be surprising likable, since the tone is so dramatically different from the original Late Registration track. Less successful mashups in the collection where No One Knows King Crismon’s Power and Tree Digger where the mixture of Kayne and Queen’s did not merge as well as either of the original songs they hailed from. Overall, ToToM’s creation is a beast of a mashup album that peaks the listeners interest in wondering what on earth would a West and Queens mashup sound like. However, personally I cannot see how the listening power will go beyond a gimmick – and I cannot imagine listening to this album over a sustained period.
Whilst this mashup album is probably not going to be on repeat in the Smith household, its purpose cannot be ignored. Through the mass media hate and Kayne’s own self-sabotaging actions, West’s talent as an artist is often forgotten. Coming back to Kayne-the-rock-star, I do not get is why it has taken this mashup with Queens Of The Stone Age for people to acknowledge that this might have some merit. I may get kicked out of PearShaped for this, but looking back at “rock stars” of the past, West shares so many qualities with them – from the rebellious nature of punk legend John Lydon, the vision of Trent Reznor, the ability to mix genres like Debbie Harry and the stage power off Ozzy. Kayne is a goddamn rock star – and ToToM has proved that to the rock purists. Not that Kayne cares what we think.