The news that Kanye West is to headline the exalted Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury this year angered many and led to more than 30,000 people signing a petition in protest against the rapper topping the bill. We asked two of our writers to state the case for and against Kanye’s appearance on the main stage…
Poor Kanye. The world seems desperate to bring him down a peg or two at every opportunity, but let’s be straight: Yeezy will be amazing at Glastonbury. The naysayers have come out in (underwhelming) force, but what should we think of Kanye at Glasto? Firstly, consider that Kanye has a back-catalogue that has consistently given us killer songs for more than a decade. There are very few artists who are still in their prime, regardless of genre, who can compete in terms of consistency of output. Add to that Kanye’s live calibre – don’t be led astray by the destructively-censored set at the BRITs, since the days of Heard ‘Em Say, Kanye has pushed the limits of what is expected from a live hip-hop show; the Yesus tour was a no-holds-barred sensual assault of a show; bring that kind of ambition and execution to the Pyramid Stage and you have the recipe for one of Glastonbury’s most memorable sets.
Finally, to those who claim there is still no place for hip-hop at Glastonbury, or that Kanye doesn’t fit the Glasto crowd; wake up and smell the coffee. The majority of the population on this planet have grown up in a world where the musical crowds don’t mix; the music you listened to defined you in more ways than one, but that just isn’t the case anymore. One of Zane Lowe’s greatest achievements as he moves on from Radio One is that he has cultured an army of fans who love music in a way that he championed: regardless of genre. Put simply there aren’t any rules anymore. You can imagine there will be comparisons to Jay Z headlining Glasto, but whilst that set was a seminal moment for Glastonbury and its relation to hip-hop, Kanye headlining has the potential to be a critical moment for Glastonbury full-stop. One of the world’s most ambitious performers, with a proven back-catalogue and a huge genre-defying fan base headlining the world’s most important music festival? Sounds good to me…
Kanye West had better bring his umbrella for Glastonbury: I predict a rain of bottles being hurled in his direction. It seems the festival organisers have confused talent for fame, with the self-obsessed manchild Kanye – better known in recent years for storming awards ceremonies, marrying an attention seeking reality TV star and riding off Jay Z’s talent – than for musical acclaim. Like so many others before him, he’s now a celebrity who raps, rather than a rapper who’s a celebrity. His recent album Yeezus was acceptable in parts, as was Watch the Throne, but the rapper shouldn’t join the legends who’ve performed on the Pyramid Stage as he simply isn’t good enough as an artist. Only a few of his albums have ever hit the spot and now we’ve reached a point where he can’t be taken seriously. The hugely mocked expression Yeezus reflects his pathetic god complex and is now just a cry for attention, which the media appear happy to indulge.
Granted, he’s delivered a few hits, such as ‘Gold Digger’ (back in 2005) but they’re few and far between. Regarding new music, I’d rather listen to someone scratching their nails on a chalkboard than Kanye’s latest tragic attempt at a single. Glastonbury is renowned for showcasing the best a genre has to offer. Muse, the Stones and Metallica have recently dominated the main stage. We’ve also seen Beyonce and Jay-Z perform outstanding sets, clearly indicating that Glastonbury is looking to expand from traditional rock routes. Kanye is not one the best in the pop industry; he’s not even close. Give me Eminem, Daft Punk, hell, even Taylor Swift or Gaga, just not Mr I-Named-My-Daughter-A-Compass-Direction West. Glastonbury should be a reward for consistent quality music through the years, not just a publicity stunt, which is all Kanye West has been in recent years.