Kanye West Skewers Rock Producer Bob Ezrin for Anti-Kanye Rant, Shades Taylor Swift
Kanye West's Twitter feed continues to nearly overshadow his prolific — and in the case of The Life of Pablo, difficult to legally obtain — musical output. West unleashed a fresh rant on Tuesday night (February 23), largely directed at rock producer Bob Ezrin with just a dash of Taylor Swift shade thrown in for good measure. In classic Kanye style, it was rambling, often petty and occasionally apologetic, but did offer a couple of decent points worth considering.
Ezrin, a 66-year-old rock producer and keyboardist whose large body of work features Lou Reed, Pink Floyd and Thirty Seconds to Mars, evoked Kanye's disapproval with an essay — a "rant" in itself, by Ezrin's own admission — that railed against West's "sophmoric" lyrics and his personality. Writing on Lefsetz Letter, a site published by historically sexist "music industry analyst" Bob Lefsetz, Ezrin begrudgingly admits Kanye has "made some great music for himself and others" as a producer. But after saying Kanye won't have the lasting cultural impact of Biggie, Tupac and N.W.A. — legacies that are arguably buoyed by the fact that the two rappers and the latter's group leader Eazy E are all dead — he says it mortified him that rock royal Paul McCartney
eagerly pursued the chance to deigned to work with 'Ye.
"His songwriting – meaning the stuff with melodies – is sophomoric at best. I was embarrassed for Sir Paul – one of the greatest Artists of our era – by their collaboration, though it was pointed out to me that this got him his highest chart position in decades. So I guess he didn’t mind. But I kind of did!" HARRUMPH!
Ezrin went on to rail against Kanye's mercurial personality — a problem for many, sure, and increasingly difficult to overlook— and then hinted at a larger frustration: Ezrin's own inability to comprehend and accept the shifting terms of creation, artistry and fame in the digital age.
"Instead Kanye’s greatest achievements have been in the form of excessive behavior, egomaniacal tantrums and tasteless grandstanding, he writes. "He’s like that flasher who interrupts a critical game by running naked across the field. Is that art??? Maybe it is. Maybe as Caramanica says, life as 'an unending data stream' is a new art form. But should it be, honestly? Hell, Forbes named this guy one of the 100 most influential people IN THE WORLD in 2005 and 2015!! Seriously??? Influencing WHAT exactly?" Ezrin then went on to shake his fist at the teens trampling his lawn, presumably.
At the end of his screed, Ezrin says "I don’t even know why I’m so angry about this." Yes, great question, you should do some deep internal exploring about that, Bob. "Except maybe I lament for a world where being truly, world-shakingly excellent at anything – at least in the field of popular music if not elsewhere – is no longer absolutely necessary." Again, this point about the quality of Kanye's work rests on whether you enjoy his music, which many do, and its "excellence" can't be empirically weighed. Certainly not by Ezrin at least, who admits of T.L.O.P, "I haven’t heard it yet."
For Kanye, Ezrin's statement that 'Ye doesn't "memorably address social issues" like his colleague Macklemore was one of the most incendiary statements.
"Bro you said Macklemore was more important musically than me… no offense to Macklemore, he’s a nice human being!," West tweeted, echoing a sentiment shared by many hip hop fans who've felt conflicted over the disproportionate praise the white rapper's received above his black colleagues — an issue Macklemore himself has moved to address in a conscious way.
West also couldn't resist a jab at awards shows' habit of perpetually honoring his frenemy-turned-maybe-enemy Taylor: "I made Dark Fantasy and Watch the Throne in one year and wasn’t nominated for either and you know who has 2 albums of the year." Read Kanye's entire response, in which he brings Ezrin's kids into the argument (Kanye, nooo!) but immediately apologizes and then does it again, below.
In weighing Kanye's comment that he's "tired of old people that have no connection with anything trying to comment on music," it's worth noting the source of Ezrin's rant — Bob Lefsetz's newsletter. In the past twenty-plus years, Lefsetz has written his own problematic posts arguing for a maintenance of the (straight white male-favoring) status quo in music, which are occasionally disgusting to boot: After Beyonce's 2013 Super Bowl performance he wrote, "I wasn’t sure what to do after Beyonce’s appearance, join a gym or masturbate" and "Beyonce made Madge look old." Lefsetz's most recent post is an indictment of Kesha's claims against Dr. Luke and her supporters, which opens with "I’m glad Dr. Luke finally spoke up, because every other male in America is afraid to."
Kanye's done plenty to warrant a critical eye, but in this case, he's right to lob the criticism right back at those upholding some of the music industry's most unfortunate and outdated ideas.