2011: The Year In Kanye

Remember the time?
Does Kanye West exist because the world gives him so much attention? Or does the world exist because he gives it something to pay attention to? Heavy stuff, man. Whatever the answer is, the rapper-cum-producer has both dominated critics' best-ofs and been a celebrity-news staple—and he hasn't taken a year off to chill hard on his gold-threaded Versace leopard-fur mattress since the 2004 release of The College Dropout. Last year, the self-proclaimed Louis Vuitton Don worked harder than ever; let's celebrate that by taking a stroll through Kanye West Memory Lane, where the houses are pricey and the shrubbery is exquisitely manicured.

Note: In the past, Kanye has compared himself to God, Jesus, Elvis, Michael Jordan, Pharaoh, and Hitler. This piece will rate the merit of Kanye's grandest 2011 moments in that order, with "God" being the highest form of praise, and "Hitler" being the lowest.

The Date: January 11.
The Event: Kanye West and Jay-Z debut their first collaboration from the Watch the Throne sessions, "H.A.M."
The Merit: Jesus.

Batman and Robin. Laurel and Hardy. Gunnar and Matthew. Of all the duos in history, Kanye and Jay-Z is very much up there amongst the worthy. But while the collaboration behind Watch the Throne is epic in of itself, the track "H.A.M." isn't quite godly, and was only included on the album as a bonus track. That said, there's an operatic breakdown two-thirds into the track, and nothing says "Son of God" like opera.

The Date: February 19.
The Event: Kanye West unveils the video for "All of the Lights," from his Pazz And Jop-demolishing 2010 release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
The Merit: Michael Jordan.

Despite the opening warning it could "potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy," the Hype Williams-directed clip for this track basically unfolds like a fancy karaoke video. I mean, it's always helpful to read the lyrics to a song, but wasn't there anything more high concept than inter-splicing the verses with footage of West standing on top of a police car? Nothing out of the ordinary here. Kind of like watching Jordan slam dunk.

The Date: March.
The Event: Kanye gets turned away at Paris Fashion Week.
The Merit: Hitler.
The fashion industry will accept anyone—except those who proclaim in a drunken stupor an appreciation for Hitler, like John Galliano did. Months before West would debut a line of his own in Paris, Page Six reported that the rapper got turned away from shows by Alexander McQueen, Balmain and Louis Vuitton. I still find this incredibly hard to believe, especially coming from a source like the New York Post, but the story was good for at least two minutes of schadenfreude.

The Date: April 17.
The Event: Kanye West closes out Coachella.
The Merit: God.

Kanye does his best work on stage, thanks to his home-brewed amalgamation of bombast, swagger, and pretentiousness—and even his detractors can admit that as they argue his relative merits with the passion of a theologian.

The Date: May 10.
The Event: Kanye gets moody at MOMA.
The Merit: Pharaoh.
Kanye also does his worst work on stage. Not since his rant-heavy Bowery Ballroom show last November had he been this grumpy and moody. At one point, during this special performance for rich people, he even Auto-tuned "I'm sorry about anybody out there that had to fight for me. Do you know what it feels like to be hated; do you know what it feels like to be degraded?" like a bi-polar T-Pain. For the rest of the night he carried on half-heartedly, like a king forced to entertain his subjects.

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