Kanye West went off on Jimmy Kimmel on Twitter tonight, launching several trending topics and prompting many of West’s 9 million Twitter followers to scratch their heads. Though relatively few people saw the video that started all this before tonight—thus the head-scratching—the rant was in response to a segment that aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this week. In it, Kimmel mocks Kanye at length, and then brings in two young children to reenact West’s recent interview with the BBC:
Kimmel’s bit is lame and unfunny, and depends only on ignorance for laughs. But if you can bear it, it’s worth breaking down piece by piece, because it exemplifies a particularly lazy and pervasive line of thinking about Kanye West. Kimmel begins by relating how “he [Kanye] said he’s the No. 1 rock star on the planet, whatever planet he’s on.” He’s referring to this passage from the interview: Rap is the new rock and roll. … We the rock stars, and I’m the biggest of all of them.
If Kimmel finds this funny, it’s only out of ignorance. Rap is the new rock and roll—or rather, it’s considerably bigger and more influential now than rock is. And so rappers are the new rock stars—as host and influential music figure Zane Lowe correctly acknowledges in the interview, “it’s been like that for a minute” (or, to be more precise, at least since the early 2000s). And Kanye is, by general consensus, the biggest of all of them; even Drake, who’s likely to score the No. 1 album in the country this week, just said so only a few nights ago. In other words, the planet Kanye’s on when he says that is Earth. The real question is what planet Kimmel is on.