And yeah, it won some Grammys. But not the big ones. And it went double platinum. But that’s not diamond. It captured neither the critical nor the commercial success he wished for.


I have more thoughts on the danger of chasing a (white) validation loop that I will not expound on today. But it’s no coincidence that after his transparent aim to reach a status that remained elusive, his work became angrier. “Yeezus” (an album I love) is a painfully sparse and vulgar 10-track-long middle finger. And then also the unfinished rough drafts that used to be singles and mixtape fodder became his sloppily completed albums. One of the byproducts of this downshift was that the flippant misogyny that had always been ensconced in his music became more conspicuous—a zit with a face on it instead of a face with a zit on it.

Today, Kanye West is, well, who Kanye West is. There are few cultural figures who’ve had steeper dips in esteem. (And none I can think of whose Black people approval rating plummeted from “generally beloved” to “universally loathed” in such a quick period of time without committing any crimes.) But 10 years ago, things were different. Kanye dropped the best rap album of the century. Too bad that wasn’t enough for him.