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What It’s Like Working Backstage at the VMAs

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The MTV VMAs are known for their outrageous moments. Sometimes they’re planned, like the Madonna and Britney Spears kiss that Christina Aguilera never got over, and sometimes they aren’t, like Kanye’s “I’mma let your finish” moment that Taylor Swift will never get over. But some of the most telling moments of the show happen off-camera, where the online streams are off-limits and celebrities get real. The audience never sees them. Although the stories get told within a certain segment of the music industry, the average Joe doesn’t hear a peep about them. But I do.
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After BBMAs’ Censorship, Will Kanye West Ever Perform at Another Awards Show?

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Kanye West closed the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday with a performance of “All Day” and “Black Skinhead” that got the people going, but for the wrong reasons. Despite self-censoring a few instances of “bitch” and “fuck” in his lyrics, West had long stretches of his performance muted by ABC censors. Unsurprisingly, he responded not with one of his infamous so-called rants, but with a statement via his rep.
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Read Three Poems From Sarah Blake’s “Unauthorized Lyric Biography of Kanye West”

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Sarah Blake‘s new book of poetry, Mr. West, is an “unauthorized lyric biography of Kayne West,” where the rapper serves as the muse for Blake’s poetry. Blake spends years thinking about West as father, son, boyfriend, husband, celebrity, genius. Through her poetry, Kanye becomes as sharp and multifaceted as a diamond, with a reflection that changes every time you look at it. Released on March 9, Mr. West is a unique and risky book. We’re happy to excerpt three of Blake’s poems — a selection that deals with Taylor Swift, the MTV Movie Awards, and “I Am a God.” Click through to read them.
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Confessions of a Reformed Kanye West Hater

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It’s true, I used to hate Kanye West. Well, OK, “hate” is probably too strong a word — like many people, I had a sort of knee-jerk dislike for the man, a feeling that started to coalesce circa Graduation and didn’t really dissipate until, out of what I considered to be a professional obligation, I sat down and listened properly to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and found to my surprise that I loved it. Since then, my feelings on West have done a neat 180-degree turn, and I’ve also thought a great deal about why it is that I — like so many others — was so quick to greet him with cries of execration.
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The Quiet Radicalism of Kanye West’s Fashion Collection

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Say what you like about Kanye West — everyone does — but there’s one thing for certain, and that’s that America’s most consistently fascinating musician is a mass of contradictions. They’ve always manifested to various extents in his music: braggadocio and self-awareness (contrast his verse on the remix of Beyoncé’s “Ego” with “Runaway,” for instance), arrogance and vulnerability, the desire to control his public image and the propensity for doing spontaneous, often ill-advised things that undermine it. They all seem to come back to a desire to which a lot of us can relate: wanting to be accepted by the establishment while at the same time wanting to tear it down. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that it’s his ongoing obsession with fashion, and specifically the new line he’s created for Adidas, that have thrown these contradictions into the sharpest relief.
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Why Kanye West, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney’s “FourFiveSeconds” Left Me Disappointed

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This weekend, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney released “FourFiveSeconds,” a stripped-down, soulful jam. Rihanna delivers one of her best vocal performances ever atop an acoustic guitar hook — seemingly from Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth — that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ed Sheeran album. Kanye sings — sans AutoTune — with a defiant streak audible in his voice, about spending the night in jail (a true story, mind you) and the public coming for his pride. An organ, likely played by McCartney, and a hearty choir of voices flesh out the sound and give “FourFiveSeconds” a gospel feel as it progresses.
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Everything We Know About Kanye West’s Next Album

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It’s Yeezy season, everybody. This week, Kanye West made a surprise (isn’t everything he does a “surprise” these days?) appearance at the iHeartRadio Media Summit in Burbank, California. He didn’t crash the stage or anything; his appearance was announced, and planned in secret. Which is probably why he gave a fairly tame speech about innovation that concluded with his playing a Rihanna-featuring track from his as-of-yet-untitled seventh album. And then he walked off the stage to a sanding ovation.
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Even When Kanye’s Screwing Up, He’s Still a Savvy Social Critic

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Another week, another manufactured “controversy” surrounding Kanye West. Yeezus’ recent tour stop in Sydney, Australia garnered a fresh round of publicity — read: media coverage with ugly subtext — when a standard order for the audience to stand up left West momentarily frustrated with a couple of disabled fans. After a few minutes, West got the message and the show went on, but not before Kanye-“yells”-at-innocent-wheelchair-bound-fan became the latest piece of micro-evidence in the “crazed/egomaniacal/[insert loaded descriptor here]” narrative that’s been a part of West’s image from Hurricane Katrina through Yeezus. I won’t link to any of the write-ups, but if you’d like to watch a decent performance of “The Good Life,” the footage is available here.
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