In terms of fame and exposure, Kanye West’s controversies and conflicts constantly overwhelm his music and creative output. The artist can no longer be separated from the celebrity. But if we could do that, if it was someone other than Kanye repeatedly reminding us that Kanye is a genius, we’d remember that it’s true; West is easily the most influential hip-hop artist of his generation, tinkering with and tweaking the genre in pioneering ways with every album. “See, I invented Kanye/It wasn’t any Kanyes/And now I look around and there’s so many Kanyes,” he says on “I Love Kanye” from the The Life of Pablo, his latest and perhaps most complex album, which Pitchfork described as “the sound of a celebrated megalomaniac settling for his place in history.”
The accompanying Saint Pablo tour—running neck and neck with Drake’s Summer Sixteen adventure for the title of 2016’s biggest hip-hop tour—has received critical acclaim for its stylistic, minimalist production and West’s willingness to blend popular hits from past records with the highly textured tracks from Pablo.
“I’m not crazy, I’m brave,” he claimed from his floating stage during the first of back-to-back nights this week in Oakland’s Oracle Arena. Perhaps he has to be both to continue being Kanye. Kanye West at T-Mobile Arena, October 29.