“Rarely have I seen any really great advertising created without a certain amount of confusion, throwaways, bent noses, irritation, and downright cursedness” — Leo Burnett
Full disclosure: I love Kanye. My twitter is roughly 1/10th Kanye tweets (lately mostly just ultralight beam references). Others are the exact opposite. So it obviously depends on who you’re asking, but Kanye West is seen as everything from a visionary to a nutcase. He represents what it means to be an artist in 2016, or he represents everything that’s wrong with America. He’s the epitome of creative greatness, or the example for how a superstar goes over the edge. Perhaps because of his ego, or his rants, or his critically acclaimed albums, but there’s no middle ground when it comes to him.
So where does this put him on the HumanKind scale?
Above All, Human
I would argue that the Kanye experience, brand, and idea, is deeply human-centered. I know, I know, this doesn’t seem very Leo Burnett inspired. But hear me out.
What makes Kanye so human is his unfiltered emotions. He doesn’t just talk about his success, he rants about it. He doesn’t just rap about his feelings, he creates a pioneering album that expresses vulnerability few rap artists had never been able to express before. This polarization turns many people off to him, but I would argue, it’s the thing that makes him human.
Because in a way, this pendulum of emotion represents the emotional swings of life that we would never be able to outwardly express ourselves. If I land this job, I can’t get on stage in front of thousands of people and rant about how proud I am of myself. If my lovely girlfriend broke up with me, I wouldn’t be able to create a groundbreaking, emotional album to describe my experience. He represents the most raw, expressed versions of our feelings.
Kanye is by no means perfect, but he’s human-centered because he represents what it means to be the complicated, emotional human being that we all are.