The Importance Of Sleepy Kanye
Kanye West divides people into two camps: For and Against. There are very few who Kanye Ambivalent or Kanye Uncertain or Kanye, Yeah He’s Okay, I Guess. People wear their opinions like badges of honour. And now, as the dust settles on The Life Of Pablo — an album, possibly his best, that might actually change the medium of “albums” forever — he’s having a little nap while shopping with Kim Kardashian, his daughter Nori, and fellow Beautiful Famous Couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend.
“Wake up, Mr. West!”
Let us never underestimate the importance of nap time. The Sleep Foundation tells us that “more than 85% of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they sleep for short periods throughout the day” and while humans are one of the few monophasic mammals, human life tells us “yeah, sleeping is fucking great”. So why does rap have such an anti-nap agenda? Rap is a genre of urges and impulses, thinking and doing and reality and sex and violence and ageless, reptilian response mechanisms, so why does everyone pretend like they don’t sleep? At what expense is Being Woke if we can’t celebrate Being Sleep?
Being “slept-on” is a bad thing, I get that, that sounds uncomfortable, but when will the genre come to terms with one of the most singularly satisfying acts known to man? There is a full force behind showing how much work you put in, then why not show the human byproduct of that? Everyone sleeps, my dude. We all reach a point where blinks last that little bit longer and you jolt your head back to snap your brain into consciousness only for the cloud to come back over you as the spine slackens and the skull slumps forward, blackness closing around you, and before you know it you’re fifteen stops past yours on the train somewhere in deep into a part of the city you didn’t even realise existed before. That’s fine. You work hard, probably. Probably not hard compared to the hundreds of generations that came before you, but at least relatively. Kanye West, for all his industry defining, cultural-commentary dividing displays of arrogance and passion, is possibly the most honest and naked rapper in existence. Sure, his house looks like an off-white marble mausoleum with all the homeliness of a Rick Owen’s torture chamber, but he’s talking about debt and loving his kids and loving ice-cream possibly even more than his kids and just sleeping all the time. There’s nothing more unapologetically real that the most famous rapper alive taking a quick Cloud Nine next to his daughter after an hour shopping for hand-crafted Ecuadorian teak cribs and skylights that cost more than your car. One of the most famous men on the entire planet sleeps like he’s on the fucking night bus home.
And let’s talk about Nori. When we found out that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian were going to have a child we all made jokes about what it should be called and then they went and actually used one and now the joke’s on us: Nori is a cool name. Your children will go to preschool with fifteen Noris in the year 2021. She perhaps has better reason to sleep than her dad — kids that age are essentially hummingbirds and will use up all of their energy until they physically pass out — but she could be the thing that most grounds us to Kanye West’s brand of unknowable honesty and openness. As fatherhood is wont to do, it has changed Kanye as real and totally as the death of his mother did pre-808s & Heartbreaks. Seeing them on their respective chairs, each clad in neutral colours, facing opposite directions, shows Kanye — ego and superego wrapped in a few thousand dollars worth of bleached-out layering and sneakers that bear his own name — and his id. She sleeps soundly, spread on a canape, little brown boots still on, probably scuffing up the cool creme of the seat cushions. This is — as Kim’s caption posited — The Real Life Of Pablo. She’s the embodiment of Kanye without the baggage that adult knowledge brings: she’s a walking meme, a foisted-upon style icon, and she gets super tired.
The Life Of Pablo and the tweets that have come with it, like living liner notes or a director’s commentary, have placed every single thing Kanye does at the forefront of our brains. His name-checking of antidepressants and his admittance of debt feel like huge milestones because of their unvarnished realness. And while it’s left many in the position of armchair psychologist and questioning his sanity, the reality is that we shouldn’t think of his social media presence as anything more than an extension of his music. If Kanye rapped most anything he said in those tweets over a beat nobody would bat an eyelid. We should just appreciate the Kanye West brand of honesty and reality (even if his a reality that none of us could ever dream of). When Kanye sleeps, he’s more human than ever.