Forsaken by Yeezus
If only by the grace of Jørn Utzon, Sydney was saved. All bets were off before the feudal reigns of Drake and LeBron, but fortunately for Toronto and Miami the sixth coming occurred in 2013 and they too were saved. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris and Berlin never had to worry: they would always be saved. As for the rest, cities and towns from the American bible belt to the Argentinian Pampas to the Altai Mountains, the night of May 17 will henceforth be remembered as the night the dark lord kept mum, the night they were forsaken by Yeezus.
It was foretold. He gave them time to make the necessary preparations. At 6:34 Eastern, his twitter feed sprang to life with the proclamation in all caps and they knew they had four hours. Some desperately scanned the darkened map of locations then refreshed and scanned again, wondering when the red dot would appear over Tokyo or Barcelona or Rio, wondering when He would realize his mistake. He’d made mistakes before, they reassured themselves. Yet the map stayed dark. Even worse, the world grew dark around them as day slid into joyless, unholy night and the walls of their city stayed dark too. The betrayal was felt less deeply elsewhere. Maybe a few in Houston optimistically clicked the link, but those in Pittsburgh simply nodded and resolutely accepted. They had been living on borrowed time anyway, as if those churning, primal utterances beneath Clique were pacing a select few to the promised land and the rest to their final silence. He said as much on that record itself: “Break records at Louis / Ate breakfast at Gucci.” For those in cities without hulking Art Deco flagships on the corner of the Champs-Élysées, warning was delivered months ago.
The forsaken masses were forced to turn to the internet to watch how it unfolded secondhand. For all it has done to subvert the monoculture, the internet is just as capable of turning any video or meme into a tour de force in a new global mainstream. In this mainstream, Gangnam Style has 1.6 billion views. And as with every other star today, the internet is culpable for Kanye West’s transition from a man once ridiculed for his suggestion that He would be a bit player in a modern day Bible to an immortal whose fans excitedly believed His new album would be titled I Am God and were almost disappointed to end up with just Yeezus.
But once assured of His throne, He moved to weed out unbelievers from his court. He targeted the flyover state masses, the ones who still participate in the old modes of monoculture. First He humiliated country/pop radio sweetheart Taylor Swift; then He swept in and impregnated reality tv icon Kim Kardashian. What angers these women’s followers most is that they cannot figure out how Kanye became a star on equal footing with those two in the first place. And how has His destabilizing influence only grown over the past three years? Did He not lose the respect of millions of people with those blasphemies?
Yes, and that was the plan. Those millions are not the right kind of people. They are neither trendsetting youth nor luxury globetrotters. They have never “popped champagne on a plane / while getting some brain” or asked “What’s that jacket? Margiela?” They are merely the 99%, associated with a lack of money but more importantly with a lack of the nebulous term “taste.” In these times, the worshipers at Yeezus’ temple are the 1%. The backing of the 1% of every kind of tastemaker–from the music critics who hailed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as an instant classic to the fashion designers who sat Him in the front row in Milan–can keep an artist’s career more than merely “afloat.” And it goes unsaid that Kanye’s chosen ones are most highly concentrated in the ten global cities where he debuted New Slaves the night of May 17.
But the internet insistently remained as the leveler. Not all who love Kanye live in the chosen cities. Lot lived compassionately in Sodom, did he not? Somewhere, a whisper carries out of China, “So many of us here love your music too even if we continue to be persecuted for listening to it! Persecuted by those who do not understand! Oh please help us Yeezus, please!” Yeezus had no choice but recognize that He could only gradually tone down His accessibility to the masses. Music videos became rarer, always confusing and never normal length. YouTube populism could be saved for Bieber. The twitter feed would continue, but only for strictly regulated promotional purposes: a feed with only 3 tweets for 9 million followers. Over the past month, videos of performances of any new material leaked onto the internet, of course, as did videos of the 66 buildings of New Slaves so the forsaken ones can sneak glances even now.
But they are only glances at shadows. The world has gone dark outside of the chosen cities, dark with nothing left but grainy bootlegged audio through laptop speakers. They have been turned around so that the fire now burns behind them and the true glory can no longer be seen save for by the New Yorker who himself walked outside the cave right into the Met Gala or a Williamsburg brownstone or the SNL audience.
Did Yeezus feel anything when He cut the excess weight, leaving so many followers out cold due simply to location? When He damned them to silence with ten red dots at the wrong spots on a map? The World Wide Web has not stopped integrating all humanity into a single network, but Yeezus has decided to stop patronizing it. And why would He when the World Wide Yeezy Projection Network is doing such a brisk business in the production of a supernova of hype, cult and exclusivity? Call Him an egomaniac or a Luddite and condemn Him for betraying those who were loyal. Or praise Him because He possessed the resolve to see his final vision through. It will not matter. He does not listen. He judged your city a dick or a swallower and will not be questioned further. Those in Sydney especially should care to celebrate unobtrusively.