artist comparison by Bernarda Chiriboga July 28, 2020
Kanye West for 2024 or nah?
Still, a difficult concept to gauge and yes it’s highly improbable but let’s bring it to greater debate. Is Kanye West better than Michael Jackson?
Now, I don’t know if this is facts but the stats and data point to a chance that this might render true. When it comes to branding, globalization, viewership, musicianship, and more, Kanye might have it.
We’re talking about the King of Pop vs. the King of hip-hop. Two masters; that if they went head to head, who would win? My bets are on Ye. The god. The king. The master of none.
We all know about the seemingly endless list of records and awards MJ won during his realm.
Starting in 1970, when 12-year-old Jackson and his brothers [Jackson 5] became the first group in pop history to have their first four singles — “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There,” “The Love You Song,” and “ABC” — hit NO.1.
Plus, their first Grammy nomination with “ABC.” Since then, MJ made it clear that he was here to conquer.
Twelve years later, as an already established, well recognized and respected solo artist, Michael Jackson released “Thriller” (1982).
A groundbreaking album, the first one in history to generate seven Top 10 Hits on the Billboard Hot 100. And the movie-like music-video that revolutionized music video productions: “Thriller.”
The mini-movie provided a sophisticated metaphor for the existing racism towards Michael Jackson at the time and a modern intake for new forms of storytelling.
Michael Jackson is one of the 14 recipients of the GRAMMY’S Legend Award and the only artist in history to score Top 10 Hits on The Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades.
Surely, the “Pop Messiah” set the bar too high, but has Ye caught up with it? While Michael Jackson “only” won 13 Grammys, The King of Hip Hop has 21 and counting…
Kanye West revolutionized the entire Hip Hop genre. How Sway? Let me explain.
During 2004 hip-hop was undergoing a “bling era:” is baggy pants, corn crowns, and chains, chains, chains.
Artists were rapping about cars, fame, money and of course, chains. Back then, there weren’t any spaces for mainstream, universal problems, or thoughts.
Just material desires. Then Kanye released “The College Dropout” an unconventional album that tackled subjects such as family, prejudice, and religion. It wiped-out the lines of what the “bling era” painted.
Then, in 2007 he proved a point when “Graduation” outsold 50 Cents’ “Curtis” by 266K copies. And, what about “808 & Heartbreaks” (2008)?
The album challenged the convictions of hip-hop by using and electronic landscape and pushing the boundaries of what could be considered hip-hop even further.
This influenced the music of artists such as Kid Cudi, The Weekend, Travis Scott, and Chance the Rapper. Ye re-defined what hip-hop artist should be like, no wonder why he calls himself “God.”
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,” they say.
The life and death of Michael Jackson were simultaneously translated with the proliferation of media networks.
Naturally, the King of Pop caught undivided, and well-earned, media attention. In 1993, his Super-Bowl half-time show attracted 133.4 million views — the biggest TV audience at that time.
His influence went beyond western culture, thus his death was mourned all over the world and it even broke the internet a couple of times.
But, the true aspect of his influence on a global scale is on the imitation of his dances. From Saudi Arabian men dancing to “Smooth Criminal” on the internet to Philippines’ prison inmates re-enacting the “Thriller” dance and a British-Indian Michael Jackson imitator combining MJ’s moonwalk with Punjabi Bhangra for Britain’s Got Talent.
Facts are that even civilians would be able to hum the sound of “Billie Jean” whenever the King of Pop is mentioned.
Yet, Kanye broke the boundaries of specialization. From producer to rapper, to fashion designer, to…(Presidential candidate?)!
Truth is that, although Kanye has not proven himself experienced enough for a presidential position, his influence goes beyond the music realm.
Ever wonder how your dad’s shoes went from a sartorial suicide to an ongoing trend featured in Vogue? Yep…Yeezy.
In 2015, after he officially launched his brand –Yeezy –Kanye West received the “Shoe of the Year Award” from Footwear News.
And just like that, the King of hip-hop became the King of Shoes too. Indeed, the Yeezy sneakers are the first to have shown the same level of relevancy and impact as the Air Jordans.
His multi-million dollar brand has backed the ongoing reformation of what fashion is. After Kanye, streetwear became luxurious lifestyle products.
Sneakers and hoodies turned into defying high-end garments. And fashion shows literally migrated to the Madison Square Garden. Even the relevancy of designers like Demna Gvasalia and Virgil Abloh [who later became Louis Vuitton Creative director] blew up after Kanye’s support.
So, besides having professional skills to scout talent, Kanye understood fashion as an immediate connection to culture and the ultimate tool for communication.
Now, people might not be fully aware of the extent of his influence, but we see his shoes, his clothes, HIM, in all corners of the world.
And, as it turns out, you don’t have to be into hip-hop to be listening to Ye’s advice.
Of course, not all attention has been positive. This type of fame comes with its own burden.
In 2016, Kanye was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This mental condition can have drastic effects on a person’s personality. Understanding it might be difficult for those who have not dealt with it closely.
Yet, West has a history of having no sense of consequence and in many cases, his impulsive behavior has resulted in very hurtful and highly inappropriate actions.
You can’t be willing out on Sway dawg. #NeverForget
Take his recent political campaign in South Carolina, where he publicly admitted “he almost killed his daughter.” West was talking about his stance against abortion and took the matter to personal experiences.
Of course, his wife Kim Kardashian wasn’t too happy about it. Which then resulted in a tweet rant. Also, what was Kanye doing at a presidential rally in the first place?
But, talking about inappropriate… Michael Jackson’s pedophilia claims can’t be neglected. This unjustifiable behavior has brought loathsome discourse against him.
And, although the claims became highly publicized after his death, during his life he also stirred great controversy.
After being diagnosed with Vitiligo (a skin condition that causes skin pigmentation loss) Jackson developed body dysmorphic syndrome.
He subjected himself to a number of plastic surgeries and managed to change his physical appearance completely. His journey of going from black to white caused a lot of public discomforts.
While it is impossible to compare one to the other, no one can deny the exaggerated sense of self both artists had.
Perhaps, that is exactly what makes them so controversial. Yet, it serves as a reminder of how dangerous narcissism can be, especially when it belongs to powerful, influential figures.
Still, as artists, both Kanye and Michael Jackson have changed the world, and its creative landscapes in unimaginable ways. Not only have they shed light on black talent where — for a long time — was ignored, but they have attributed the world with unprecedented mastery.
For Michael’s? Music, dances, and public persona had a prominent impact on the development of pop culture and what it has become. He broke the MTV color barrier being one of the first black artists to appear on the channel.
And became the first ever-present media image whose reach and global impact would be impossible to explain. There is no doubt that MJ is, indeed, the King of Pop.
Whereas Kanye, on the other hand, is an “Architect of Culture.” He has challenged the perceptions of what limits art by giving the mainstream a sophisticated meaning.
He has merged and collaborated with artists from all types of fields: architecture, painting, industrial design, fashion, music, etc.
And he’s managed to deliver impactful content every single time. Ye is not only a musician, he is an engineer, a producer, a rapper, a designer — an artist boundless to any field.
So… When it comes to debating who is best, no one would deny Michael had extraordinary talents. Still, Kanye might not be wrong when he says “I am the greatest artist of all time.”