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What’s with Kanye West lately?

Not to run down my life story or anything, but I’ve had my share of issues with Kanye Tuda over the years. A few years ago, I spearheaded a campaign to have him banned from the 2005 Grammys for ethical reasons. Obviously it didn’t work, but it at least succeeded in getting the word out about the fact that he doesn’t write a lot of his own shit. Later, there was a story about it in the Riverfront Times, and it was also mentioned in stories in the L.A. Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

To be sure, it’s not like I’ve disliked everything the guy has done. In general, I find him to be an occasionally really good producer and an almost-always miserable rapper – except when he’s expounding on his barely disguised contempt for black women, as evidenced by his guest raps on The Game’s brilliant “Wouldn’t Get Far” and his infamous remake of Rich Boy’s “Throw Some Ds on That Bitch,” not to mention the fact that he travels around with a suitcase full of interracial black man on white woman pr0n.

As far as I’m concerned, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” is pretty much an all around shit sandwich, but the thing that’s most bothersome about it is the fact that it was co-produced by DJ Toomp, the guy who produced T.I.’s “What You Know.” I don’t know if this was a case of Kanye figuring he’d be more likely to have a hit if his new single kinda sounded like a Rick Ross record, but it did strike me as odd that a guy like Kanye West, who’s considered a producer first and foremost, would outsource his own production to a bum like Toomp.

If you notice, Kanye Toodles has been doing a lot more rappin’ than he has been producing lately. And I’ll admit, for a while I was kinda with it. His guest verse on the remix of Ghostface’s “Back Like That,” which was included on More Fish, is some hilarious shit. As I noted before, I was also a big fan of his work on those Game and Rich Boy records. And for what it’s worth, he managed to hold his own alongside aged legends like KRS-One and Rakim on that dumbass Nike commercial they did with DJ Premier earlier this year.

According to the legendarily accurate Wikipedia Graduation will include production by the likes of Jon Brion, Sa-Ra, Dr. Dre, J Dilla, Pete Rock, and Just Blaze, in addition to the aforementioned DJ Toomp. Which can’t possibly bode well for the upcoming album, can it? Granted, most of those guys have done great work in the past, if not so much recently (think about it), but who really buys a Kanye West album to hear Toodles rappin’ over a buncha other peoples’ shit. If anything, you’d almost rather hear a buncha other people rappin’ over his own shit.

I’m not sure what sense it made, but this weekend Kanye released the video for “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” which might even be worse than the song itself (I wasn’t even a big fan of it the first time, when it was called Madonna’s video for the song “Frozen”), as well as a mixtape where he raps over some indie rock songs such as Peter Bjorn & John’s ubiquitous “Young Folks” and the title track from Thom Yorke’s solo album The Eraser. I haven’t had a chance to check it out myself, but you get the idea that he’s basically resigned himself to kicking vaguely amusing guest verses over other peoples’ music.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to think.

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