For a long time, any Kanye West comment or action has been promptly eaten alive by the Internet, but in the last few months, it's become clear we've entered a golden age of public Kanye. Whether it's continually changing the name of his long-awaited gospel album, stirring up controversy and a powerful Taylor Swift response over the lyrics in one of the songs on that album, or just sleeping, the fodder for memes, think pieces, and responses to those think pieces has arguably never been more plentiful.
The latest batch is entirely self-provided in the form of another stream-of-consciousness tweet storm, in which Yeezy casually revealed his favorite song of 2015, his desire to redesign the L.A. Clippers' mascot, and an emotional analysis of his best quality, all in the span of a few hours. Combined with the manner in which his latest album, The Life Of Pablo, has existed in its first 30 days, it's a strangely fascinating portrait of an artist who can't and won't stop evolving.
First, his favorite jam of 2015.
Then the real stuff: his own best character quality.
And finally, the realest idea of all: a desire to talk shop with Steve Ballmer about the Los Angeles Clippers' mascot.
For reference, the current mascot is Chuck the Condor.
The cartoony nature of professional sports mascots aside, though, Kanye's latest tweet storm — which has since been followed up with a call to Ballmer to hang this week and the rapper's thoughts on getting an Instagram — highlights the increasingly fluid nature of making art in the Internet Age. The Life Of Pablo had a notoriously bumpy release, and continues to be tinkered with a month later. As Tom Hawking at Flavorwire pointed out, the public work-in-progress nature of the album evokes a sense of the Ship of Theseus paradox. It's a simple idea to state, but a complex one to dissect: if a ship (or any entity) has all of its components replaced, is it still fundamentally the same object?
In the context of The Life Of Pablo, how much tinkering can happen before it's no longer The Life Of Pablo? That's an ironic question to ask in and of its own because before it was even released, the album had three different names. But now that its content is publicly available, yet enduring an ongoing state of change, it's a bizarre and striking evolution of releasing art. For decades, albums haven't reached the public until they're as done as they can be, and then the artist mostly doesn't touch them unless it's to release a special edition, remixes, or something of the like. Kanye's TLOP process suggests that he might never be done with it, which is strange, exciting, and unsettling all at once.
As the barriers between celebrity and fan, artist and consumer, and "finished" and "incomplete" continue to break down, that uncomfortable feeling ought to turn comfortable. We're not living in a world of absolutes anymore, and as polarizing as he may be, Kanye's increasingly transient nature is a peek at what life and art might be if we all follow suit. What happens if everything becomes as subject to self-editing as any social media status? We might not have to wait long to find out.