Curiouser still, I headed to the Billboard Awards Website and learned this:
Kanye West will receive the 2005 Artist Achievement Award at THE 2005 BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS Tuesday, Dec. 6 on FOX.
The Artist Achievement Award recognizes an extraordinary artist who has redefined the landscape of popular music and has excelled in Billboard chart accomplishments.
I see. A guy lacking the gift of internal dialogue wanders in front of a camera for a few seconds, and then weeks later shrugs off a single featuring perhaps the least enthusiastic "go'head git down" in music history. Jamie Foxx should be getting this award--his Ray Charles impersonation is the high point of the song.
Billboard drools on: Some say Kanye West is the most important artist working in hip-hop today; but he is quite possibly the most important artist currently working in any musical genre. He was nominated for ten Grammys this year—more than any other artist. His latest album, "Late Registration," is one of the best-reviewed records of the year.
I think that just about sums it up.
My brother and I discussed this at length during the Thanksgiving Drive, but I never expected it to come to such an obvious fruition so quickly. Why, he asked, is Green Day still relevant? How is it that Kanye West gets yards and yards of critical acclaim that nobody's ever heard but we're constantly reminded of? What is Mariah Carey being nominated for?
Hollywood (and I'm using the term to describe 'The Biz' on the whole, music, TV, etc.) is desperate to tell us what to like. Whether in the case of Green Day, whose best recent single is the first cousin of Welcome to Paradise (and worst single even more nauseously repetitive than Lenny Kravitz' I Wonder If I'll Ever See You Again), or Mariah Carey, who is hardly a musician anymore outside of her busy tabloid-cover schedule, Hollywood is desperate to cling to things they know worked before and hope can work still. Sure every third song on the "alternative" radio is the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but they haven't put out new songs in years. It begs to wonder had Kurt survived, would he be wearing eyeliner and cashing in on Bush Bashing?
Kanye, however, plays into a different game. White people (particularly white liberals which Hollywood has in droves), tend to find personal validation in claiming to like black music. Sure you're white, but you're down with the rap music. You may be driving your trust-fund Bimmer to Crate & Barrel, but you're listening to Wu Tang on your Nano, so you're not like overprivileged or anything. Add to this the snobbery of following music criticism, the elitism of being on to an unknown, and a nice fuckoff to the Bill O'Reilly types who can't get down with Luda, and presto: [Kanye West] is quite simply a unique and ferocious talent and well deserving of this year’s Artist Achievement Award.