I know a lot of people don't like Kanye for his antics at awards shows. I get it. But what I do appreciate about him more than anything else, and one thing that truly inspires me, is that he's not afraid to put his dreams out there, pursue his dreams publicly, and - more often than not, be it music or fashion - make his dreams come true.
I'm a big fan of people who are not only able to reach their goals, but to pursue them openly in front of others because that's often much harder than moving in silence because you're inviting the critics into your journey which men like Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, and Steve Prefontaine seemed to do. MLK was killed for his dream. Ali was nearly imprisoned for his beliefs. Prefontaine died before getting another shot at the Olympic gold medal. But their legacies are meaningful to this day because they strived for goals in public. Those who risk loss and embarrassment or open themselves to naysayers and doubters are to be applauded in my book because they have overcome the fear of failure.
Kanye's music label is called G.O.O.D. Music for "Getting Out Our Dreams" and it's well-suited for what he's doing and done for guys like John Legend, Kid Cudi, Big Sean and countless others in the music (and now fashion) industry who you may not even know if not for Kanye. I have a healthy respect for that and everyone else should too even if you don't respect his tactics.
Final point, we're talking about a man in a segment of the music industry - rap - where the other "greats" were either drug dealers responsible for significant pain in urban communities or they were killed in part because of public rivalries they started or they continue to promote violence and other illicit activities through their lyrics. Last I checked Kanye wasn't rapping about robbing or killing anyone. I'll take a guy who can't behave himself at an awards show any day over that. That's my two cents.
What strikes me as so interesting about the people who seem to despise Kanye West is that he follows a line of music industry greats who themselves raised severe questions of character during their peak years from Miles Davis and his drug addiction (and severe asshole tendencies to the point where other jazz greats loathed him) and Michael Jackson and his interest in young boys to Madonna and her sexual provocations (spawning a whole generation of over-sexed clones) and Dr. Dre and his promotion of the gang lifestyle both as a member of N.W.A. and with his legendary work with Snoop Dogg and Tupac, culminating in the latter’s murder in 1996. I just can’t possibly see arrogance and a desire to be the awards-show cop as greater than those apparent transgressions against culture/others.
I understand if his arrogance turns people off, but I’d argue his music is too good to completely “turn off” to him unless you don’t fully appreciate his music. There are a lot of morons in the world, and many of them are elected officials with a responsibility to not be idiots; where does Kanye stand in terms of civic duty?
An earlier comparison to MLK wasn’t meant to be one of equals, but one in which inspiration, for me at least, comes from the same idea of publicly sharing goals to ask others to hop on the bus with you and support. Ali himself was called arrogant for many many many years and only became truly beloved by all (and not just boxing fans, young and black folks) later in life when the Vietnam War became extremely unpopular and the onset of Parkinson’s. Kanye West is a great producer, but I don’t know if it’s fair to say he can’t also be a respected musical artist or fashion creator, too, because he offended Taylor Swift or Beck, some other multi-millionaire musicians. If we’re all judged by the dumbest thing we’ve ever said or done, we'll probably all be damned. Case in point, I respect Clint Eastwood a ton as an actor, but I also respect him even more as a multi-millionaire actor who became an acclaimed movie director. And Clint Eastwood thought it was a good idea to talk to a chair during a national political convention. Remember that? Well when you have the #1 movie in America as he has recently with American Sniper people tend to disregard your temporary bout with idiocy because brilliance comes with a price. With Kanye, I totally think the price is worth it. Maybe the toll is too high for you, though? If so, I'd recommend you go back and listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or buy a pair of Air Yeezys on eBay.