Campbell's Soup and Power

7:00 AM

Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup, 1962

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Say what you will about Kanye West; it’s undeniable that he’s an icon of music. In 2009, he suffered the climax of a disaster largely of his own creation. Still rattled by his mother’s death over a year before, Kanye believed somewhere in his mind that it was a good idea to interrupt a 19-year-old Taylor Swift accepting her award for Best Music Video at the VMAs. The horrifying scene that played out on the stage made for great television, and Kanye appeared to have finally lost it.

He disappeared from the world stage, hiding out in Europe and Hawaii for over a year. Then, 18 months after the incident that turned him into a villain in America’s eyes, Kanye came out with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a disturbing, virtuosic album that fully lived up to its name. The initial single, representing Kanye’s return from the brink, was "Power." I remember first hearing this song, listening to him explain his absence and introduce the album that would throw him back on top, I was amazed at the shift in his career. This song, and more generally the album, represent a diatribe against the very consumerism that has vaulted him into celebrity. Kanye West admits that fame taxed his skills, saying, “I just needed time alone, with my own thoughts/Had treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault.” His sample of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” encapsulates his album’s stance on celebrity and consumption—the schizoid man is one of contradictions, controlled by consumption and yet at the same time relishing what he is able to consume. Much like Warhol, Kanye muses on the nature of fame and the destiny of a man like himself in the modern world. Kanye may have lost himself four years ago, but with this album, he was found.

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