Let's have a toast for the douchebags. Let's have a toast for the assholes. Let's have a toast for the internet commenters, some of the worst people I know.
It's Kanye West's birthday, y'all. And as with everything involving the Chicago-raised rapper and producer, that's bound to make some folks very upset.
No one gets the world's collective goat more than Yeezy. He's brought a lot of it on himself, insofar as he clearly enjoys doing things to deliberately piss off certain people. When we reported rumors that he might play Portland this summer, the reaction on Facebook—from people who look like they've never heard a Kanye West song in their lives—suggested that he should be barred from entering the state of Oregon. He might be the only person in the world to routinely get petitioned against just for being annoying.
Look, being a Kanye fan is exasperating at times. His purposeful trolling sometimes crosses the line. The whole "living album" experiment he's somehow still conducting with The Life of Pablo has proven terribly misguided. He almost certainly needs a therapist to work out his issues with women. He's enabling Desiigner's career as a living Future bootleg. These are all legitimate criticisms.
But these are not the reasons the average person dislikes him. Outside the realm of music writers and cultural critics, Kanye hate is mostly the product of blind (and, let's admit it, racist) groupthink. And it makes me upset to know there are people missing out on not just a transformative artist, but perhaps the most entertaining public figure of our time. So, in celebration of Kanye's 39th birthday, let us go point by point and work through your rage together.
Oh, you don't say? A rapper has a high opinion of himself? That's a new one. We expect rappers to brag about their personal greatness, so why does Kanye catch so much flak when he does it? Is it because he dares to position his boasts outside the rap game and demand respect from the music world at large? That's my theory. But here's the thing with that: Y'all know he's messing with you, right? When he proclaims every album he makes "the greatest of all-time," he no doubt partially believes it, but it's mostly because he knows it'll make a lot of boring, old rock fans grit their teeth and clutch their copy of Quadrophenia to their chest. If you get mad, it's almost always because he wanted you to. Congratulations—you just played yourself.
"He was mean to Taylor Swift!"
Kanye's heel turn happened when he snatched the mic away from America's golden girl and ruined her big moment at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Read that again, though: It happened at the fucking Video Music Awards. From the way everyone reacted, you'd think he ran onstage and smacked the Nobel Peace Prize out of her hand. What's that bogus award show for if not rich people showing out and manufacturing drama? Don't worry, Taylor's fine. And I'm not going to defend the line about her on "Famous." That's actually disrespectful and, worse, factually inaccurate. But you hear how he chopped that Sister Nancy sample on the coda? Genius production forgives a lot.
"He also insinuated Beck didn't deserve a Grammy!"
This might seem egregious until you watch that HBO documentary on Scientology. Anyone who believes that shit should be forced to give all their awards to Beyoncé.
"He married Kim Kardashian!"
Of course he did! How do those Geico ads go? "If you're Kanye West, you form a mad-making Voltron with the other super-famous person who makes everyone irrationally angry. It's what you do." We can break down the deep-seated misogyny at the core of Kardashian hate some other time.
"He's annoying on Twitter!"
Kanye's tweetstorms are why the platform was invented. Look at all the little moments of brilliance they've produced: "17th of all," "#wizhascoolpants," "#FingersInTheBootyAssBitch," that time he asked Deadmaus to perform at his daughter's birthday because she loves Minnie Mouse. His only slip-up so far has been proclaiming Bill Cosby's innocence in a fit of spasmodic trolling, a declaration he reneges on (or at least muddies) on the song "Facts." Otherwise, whenever that little crown icon pops up in my timeline, I'm clearing my schedule for the next hour.
"He's not a good rapper!"
It's true, he still raps like the freshman at the college house party who's grossly overestimated his own cleverness. But that's what's kept him relatable as his fame has ballooned. Besides, it's hard not to admire the confidence it takes to sell a line like "I'm like the fly Malcolm X/ Buy any jeans necessary," or drop stone-faced references to Adam Sandler movies into songs about Jesus and record-industry racism. So, yes, let's have a toast: Happy birthday, Kanye, you magnificent asshole. Don't ever change. The rest of you got some work to do.
SEE IT: Ye Day with DJ Ronin Roc is at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., on Friday, June 3. 9 pm. $10. 21+.