Best International Male Artist:
Last week we discussed (well, I stated bluntly) that all American urban music is rubbish. This is something I still stand by, for the most part. American Urban music is second only to American Pop music in terms of corporate puppeteering (why the hell should anyone give a crap about the Jonas Brothers? They’re worse than Busted, and there isn’t even the promise of sex to keep fans dreaming about). There are flaws with this generalisation as there are with all generalisations ever, and in this case one of the flaws is that mainstream rap in the states is actually starting to thrive. With Timbaland behind the production booth (but not the microphone - God, he should never be behind the microphone) artists like Jay-Z and Outkast and all these other acts have risen up and made great music. The flipside of these great musician are those who are in it for the lifestyle, not the fun of making music itself – 50 Cent, and all his assorted spinoffs are a prime example of this. The rap myth has been sung against by many superb bands in the past like Run DMC and De La Soul, and yet still young musicians flock towards it eagerly. In this world of money and sponsorship and… yes, drive-by shootings, it’s nice to see that Kanye West is still doing what he wants, whenever he wants. And he doesn’t do skits where people get shot, either. He’s a rapper who is concerned mainly with making good music and honing the craft, instead of eating lobsters stuffed with caviar and sleeping with women stuffed with… I’ll stop that image before it gets too far.
It was not a good year for him, on a personal level. It was tragic, actually. His mother died after a botched surgery, and he broke up with his fiancé. As many artists have done before, he channelled this sadness into making a new album, where he sings sad songs. Unlike most other artists, however, Kanye has a poor singing voice. He usually raps, he’s not used to the art of singing. But he really wanted to make this album, so he did perhaps the bravest thing of the year and went ahead with it anyway, using computer programs to fix up his voice and make the songs more melodic. The result was a very different sort of Kanye West album, but not in a bad way. The resulting album was heartfelt and genuinely sad on more than one occasion, and you have to commend him for his guts. In fact, Wilftonville are going to do that right now.
Awarded to: Kanye West