Kanye West’s lengthy interview with Charlamagne Tha God, on New York’s Power 105 FM, drew a heavy line between Jay Z’s style and Kanye West’s. It gave a clear view into Kanye West’s psyche, his rose-colored view of the world and his perception of his own personal success. It appears that Mr. West truly needs to ‘wake up’ and stop talking so much and start doing. West’s radio interview featured forty-two minutes of question-dodging, during which Kanye evaded questions about his contradictory viewpoints on corporate nepotism with respect to his own corporate partnerships.
Kanye West equates himself with Jay Z, but his accomplishments fall far short of his perceived self-worth. Kanye spent a major portion of the Power 105 radio interview talking about what he plans to do, and how his influence will change the world. It appears as though the time Kanye has spent with Jay Z has given him the illusion that he is as great as the timeless Shawn Carter.
The difference in style between the two media moguls could not present a more stark contrast. Jay Z spends his time investing and doing, Kanye West spends his time talking. From business partnerships to music, such as his investment in the Brooklyn Barclays Center and his blockbuster album Magna Carta Holy Grail that dropped on July 4th, it seems that everything Jay Z touches turns to gold. When you listen to Jay Z’s most recent raps, his perception of his self-worth seems to be on par with his actual worth. Jay Z has met with Warren Buffett, he has produced decades of great albums, and he is married to one of the most beautiful and successful female entertainment icons this generation has ever seen, Beyonce. Jay Z exudes quality.
Jay Z has also released some impotent albums that have lacked quality, only to come back stronger than ever each time. Jay Z is able to use failure to fuel success. Every time Jay Z has had a figurative bone broken by throw-away albums, he has healed stronger and come back to the top of the game. One could compare Jay Z’s success to the economic boom-and-bust cycle of expansion and contraction. Like the markets, Jay Z continues to reach new personal achievements, with each such milestone exceeding the magnitude of the preceding one. Indeed, he scales new heights each time, and each time he breaks through the ceiling it becomes his new floor.
Now, let’s examine what Kanye is doing wrong, in comparison to Jay Z. Kanye has gone from an edgy, witty, borderline hipster persona circa 2007 to an egomaniacal narcissist who revels in the fact that he has everything. He used to produce music with deep lyrics and wit, with songs like 'Spaceship' and 'Gold Digger.' Now, Kanye is mostly good for features. 'Cruel Summer,' the last mixtape from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. music group, had three good songs on it, out of twelve. The best song, 'New God Flow,' has two astounding verses from Pusha-T and one phenomenal verse from Kanye. It was one concentrated blow-off top of frustration and energy. It was classic Kanye quality. It was of ‘that caliber.’ But that was it.
Now let’s examine each artist’s marriages, and the motivations behind them. Jay Z is married to Beyonce Knowles, a diva known for branding, a flawless body and smash music hits. Kanye West is married to Kim Kardashian, a bimbo celebrity female who is famous for a pornographic mixtape and a reality television show, a trophy wife who contributes nothing to the creative world. Kanye West is married to the living, breathing concept of hollow, shallow fame. Jay Z is married to the female amalgamation of talent, beauty and creativity. Kanye’s inflated ego stems from his marriage to the modern image of physical perfection, while Jay Z’s success stems from his constructive marriage to a woman whose success matches the magnitude of his own.
As I previously said, Jay Z has used impotent albums as fuel to create better content. It is fair to say that Kanye West stands by all of his products, just as Jay Z does. They’re still their creations. There are still fans that thoroughly enjoyed each artist’s coming-of-age albums. As they say, there is a ‘derriere for every seat.’ However, Kanye seems to view himself as a brand, and has used this as an excuse to consistently underperform. He believes that he, like Jay Z, can put his name on anything and it will sell. This is not the case. The last thoughtful album Kanye West made was 808’s and Heartbreaks in 2008. Since then, each album Kanye West has released has been a victory lap of diminishing album from each preceding album. They’ve been ruminations of his success -- but which added little to it.
In the same way that you can’t get a stock to move by sheer willpower, an artist cannot subsist and sell on ego alone. The artist must continue to release quality content, and must not become complacent. Kanye West continues to talk about what he will achieve, but time spent talking is time not spent doing. That is what Kanye West is doing wrong.
Fame is only as good as the reason behind it. Lately, Kanye West is famous for nothing more than having a big mouth and sub-par music.
Nick Gwiazda is a Finance graduate from the University of Connecticut with double minors in Economics and Italian. He has been investing and following markets for a decade,...