NEW YORK - OCTOBER 21: Rapper, writer and director Kanye West attends the "Runaway" New York premiere at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema on October 21, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Pity Kanye West.
With an impressive array of awards and a sizable bank account the famously irascible rapper can't seem to stop providing constant grist for journalists and culture-watchers with his volatile behavior.
Stepping in a metaphorical pile of dung every time he opens his mouth must be utterly exhausting work. Where does he find the time to actually make music?
West's knack for bad press has the dual effect of cementing a reputation for unpredictability, and confirming suspicions that he might be the love child of Michael Jackson and Sybil. The rapper recently lit up the Internet yet again, when he took to the airwaves yesterday to respond to former president George W. Bush's recent criticism of his infamous rant during a telethon for Hurricane Katrina victims.WATCH 'TODAY SHOW' COVERAGE OF KANYE WEST:
After a promising start, West's appearance on NBC's flagship Today Show quickly devolved into one of the most ill-advised celebrity interviews since Whitney Houston's unfortunate 2002 sit-down with Diane Sawyer (or perhaps a better example is the pop diva's expletive-laced tirade to then-radio host Wendy Williams).
In meandering responses to Matt Lauer's probing, West acknowledged that he spoke too rashly when he accused the former president of not caring about blacks. But the hip-hop impresario appeared prickly at times, and at one point asked the off-camera crew to be quiet. The interview officially hit the skids when producers displayed a video clip of him -- common practice in broadcast media -- interrupting singer Taylor Swift at the MTV Awards while asking him about the incident. Afterward, West took to every celebrity's favorite venting vehicle Twitter to carp that Lauer tried to "force my answers. It was very brutal and I came there with only positive intent."
For a rapper who's amassed an impressive compendium of industry accolades, including 14 Grammys and 7 Black Entertainment Awards (BET) Awards, Kanye West seems awfully thin-skinned and self-pitying. Some have suggested that West might want to ditch his publicist, or at least go on yet another self-imposed media blackout. The truth, however, is that with each utterance, West proves he's his own worst enemy. He's a public relations professional's nightmare client: brash, brooding, and prone to jarringly alternating bouts of insularity and seething hostility. One minute he's the diligent study buddy who shares his notes when you miss class; the next, he transforms the over-caffeinated jock shoving you into the lockers in the hallway.
In a wicked bit of coincidence, West's new single is ironically-titled "Looking for Trouble". The song is practically an anthem for West, whose habit for compulsive media overkill threatens to overshadow the fact that he actually makes very good music. At some point, even celebrity-obsessed fans become jaded by a musician's turbulent behavior, and career decline is the inevitable result (just ask Lindsay Lohan). Kanye West has become a parody of himself, and not a terribly funny one at that. He's a few matchsticks shy of a complete flameout.
Like most navel-gazing celebrities nowadays, social networking reinforces the worst of West's behavioral propensities. The Internet gives already prominent artists a vehicle to communicate with fans, yet its also capable of transmitting the inner-most thoughts and rantings of the self-absorbed around the world at virtual warp speed.
And for someone with impulse control issues like as Kanye West -- who has more than a million Twitter followers -- the urge to use the Internet as instant therapy can be irresistible. Considering his explosive tendencies, a Twitter fast might not be a bad idea. His publicist's first order of business should be to confiscate the hypersensitive rapper's laptop and BlackBerry.
So Kanye, a few words of advice for someone who's bought your records and does appreciate your musical talents: lay off Twitter, see a good therapist, and stay away from reporters until you've fully wrestled with your demons.
And for Goodness sake, no more cell phone pictures.
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