Nicholas Payton Speaks On Yeezus . . .

You mothafuckas are making the same mistake with Yeezus as you did with 808s. If you’re looking for it to be a Hiphop album, you’ve already missed the point. Kanye stopped making Hiphop albums a long time ago. Get over it. He’s beyond that, at this point. Doesn’t mean he’s better, he’s just not a Hiphop artist anymore.

There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. I mean, let’s face it, at some point, as an artist, you’re going to outgrow Hiphop if you’re constantly evolving. Is Yeezus music? No, it isn’t. Is Kanye a musician? No, he is not, but it doesn’t matter. Music ain’t shit. Music is intrinsically empty. It takes a life lived to give a series of notes, chords and rhythms some meaning.

Contrary to what he may believe, Kanye is no activist. He’s just active—big difference. He’s very creative, but creativity isn’t everything. I can get a 5-year-old kid a box of crayons and watch him be creative. But is it mastery? Miles Davis is a master, but not because you think he is or because he has nice things, but because he endlessly dismembered and embodied his craft.

Kanye’s genius, and there is genius there, is that he has an uncanny understanding of how shallow the mainstream is at this moment. Now, that is not to say he is shallow, but that I think his art has grown to be reflective of a very shallow aesthetic. Anytime you can both validate yourself by aligning your work with the great ancestors, yet reduce the lineage to suit your personal gain, you represent nothing more than what is in front of you. To me, it comes down to this: Are you extending the tradition or exploiting it?

You see, there is a time for everything. There is a time to kill, there is a time to be still and there is a time to build. It is not up to the artist to decide what her work means to you. It is up to you to figure out what it means—if you care to invest the time—and that is always subject to your frame of mind while digesting it. The beauty of albums is that you’re constantly given another opportunity to figure out just what purpose it serves in your life.


The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.


– Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

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