By Emerson Lovell
Kanye West’s Career is eerily reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The first film in the series Batman Begins is an origin story, where we learn how the Batman comes about. Further, we learn what fuels him and his quest to save Gotham from a former mentor, Ra’s al Ghul, as well as, the villain scarecrow. In the first act of Kanye’s career we receive his origin story through the album of the 2000s College Dropout. If Through the Wire does not explain Kanye’s passion, I do not know what does. Accordingly, Through the Wire is a culmination of Kanye’s journey, as the legend goes, everyone wanted him as a producer but he was not signing unless a rap deal came along with it. The song Spaceship famously references Kanye’s grind, “Lock yourself in a room doing 5 beats a day for 3 summers…” That is the Kanye many fans learned to love, the one that was so relatable because he worked for what he had and was steadfast in his ways. Those are also the reasons why many people appreciate the Batman. The Bat was always steadfast in his quest to beat the villains of Gotham despite not having the supernatural talents of his counterparts.
The second act of Kanye’s career is fundamentally like the plot of The Dark Knight. Kanye risked it all for his love of the game and the result was him needing to alienate himself from society because the backlash was too strong. Conversely, the second act started off prosperous. Kanye’s Graduation album came out and we saw him beat 50 Cent, a giant of the industry, in a record sales battle. What made the match up even more comic book like was 50 Cents affinity towards playing the villain. Like Batman, beating quality enemies boosted Kanye’s confidence and resulted in him taking on more and more villains. Those villains manifested themselves in the form of injustices throughout the country and issues in his beloved Chicago. Unfortunately, Kanye’s victories lead to his encounter with Taylor Swift, who for the purposes of this article, is the Joker. Kanye famously stormed the stage and took her microphone to voice his opinion (one that I might add was correct). The problem for Kanye in that moment was very similar to the problem for Batman in The Dark Knight, he lacked support. In The Dark Knight, Batman had a choice, save the love of his life or save the future of Gotham. Unbeknownst to the Batman, both options would end very tragically. The same is true for the 2009 VMA awards. Kanye had to choose the love of his life, which was the music industry or the future of award shows. Kanye chose the love of his life and he rightfully put the VMAs on notice that he would not be sitting by idly while a travesty was occurring before his eyes. Kanye stormed the stage and we know what happened next. Kanye’s message was so clear, stop treating blacks, especially the very best blacks of their profession, as if they are second class artists. That message was a heavy one, but one that persists to this day in many industries. For example, there was just the #OscarsSoWhite movement. In my honest opinion Kanye did what he had to do and that is when his life truly resembled that of the Batman.
Now this is where my analogy gets weird, Kanye never came out of hiding. Not the Kanye we know. Not the Kanye that Kanye raps about on I Love Kanye. That belief stems from Eminem, where he raps "Where the f*** is Kanye when you need him?” on No Love. The Kanye we miss is the Kanye we need today. Now this is not a fan theory like the one about Gucci Mane being a clone, but instead it is a theory that sees a fan trying to reconcile the Kanye that was a voice of a generation (College Dropout though Graduation) to the one we see today. The sad thing is it can be argued that the Kanye we see today is the same as the one of old, however his focus has just shifted.
Instead of being for the people he’s now looking out for himself first. The real question is can you blame him? The backlash he took from his 2009 VMA move still resonates with him today. The overwhelming lack of support likely made him feel as if why speak for the people, if the people I am speaking for will not support me? When you change your perspective, you change your reality and Kanye’s reality changed. In the comic book universe we call this an alternate timeline. The Kanye of old is still alive somewhere just not in this timeline. How can you not believe he’s still alive when you hear cuts like Ultralight Beam, Murder to Excellence, Black Skinhead, Blood on the Leaves, Saint Pablo, and White Dress. Kanye of old is still here but instead of challenging him like J. Cole did on False Prophets, Kanye needs support in a different form. He needs a reminder that his voice matters, his songs have purpose and his actions carry weight.
Kanye needs to know his message will have an impact. When that happens, we may get the Dark Knight to Rise and fight Bane who is the injustices of the world incarnated, dramatic yes but it fits the analogy. Fans can even draw the teddy bear with chalk around until he gets the message like John Blake (Robin) did in Dark Knight Rises. The idea here is Kanye can return, just believe.
Photo Credit: Danny Sellers