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What if Kanye West is Retarded?

I don't know if you knew this or not, but Kanye West wrote a "book." I put "book" in sarcastic, douchey, Internet quotes because I don't know if something is technically a book if it's 52 occasionally blank pages with gems like "Get use to getting used!" taking up full pages. (As a quick sidebar to people who publish crappy, poorly-written books, I'd like to point out that mybook,Holla Atta Bitch: The Gentleman's Guide to Snaggin' Skanky Blonde Hoodrats is still shockingly without a publisher. I await your fat bag of money with a dollar sign.)

Now, as we all know, Kanye isn't a stranger to out-of-the-ordinary decisions. There was that indecipherable rant from a while back, and his inexplicable decision to stop making award-winning rap albums in favor of a shitty, auto-tune-saturated sonic disaster. Kanye does weird stuff.

The thing is, I thought a lot of Kanye's strange, quirky behavior was all a part of his act. His brat-sent-to-bed-without-dessert reactions to Grammy snubs, his bizarre videos, the fact that he blogs in ALL CAPS; I assumed it was all his "bit," you know? He clearly wants to go down in history as some kind of unpredictable, eccentric genius and, hey, he probably could've gotten away with it. The history of pop music is littered with odd, eccentric lunatics that are now considered geniuses, and Kanye just wanted to be one of them. If he can convince people that he's got Prince-levels of eccentricity, more power to him.

Zzzzapp! Zzzzapp!

But now that I'm seeing this ridiculous book of what he perceives to be Confucius-esque witticisms, I'm not so sure. It's not enough that he's written a crappy book--he's gone on record as saying that he's a "proud non-reader" who doesn't see the value in books. Now, I'm not an accomplished author or anything (until Holla Atta Bitch goes platinum or whatever it is that books do), but I think the first rule of book-selling is "Don't tell your book-buying audience that reading books is stupid and worthless."

Which leads me to my concern: What if Kanye isn't an eccentric genius and, worse, isn't even trying to feign eccentricity? What if Kanye didn't spout off a bunch of quirky, polarizing diatribes because he wanted to go down in history as a creative genius, but because he is, in fact, a complete fucking moron? The question we have to ask, then, is "What if Kanye West is retarded?" and everything Kanye's ever said and done takes on an entirely different context when you view it through this new lens.

Kanye's Book

Kanye claims he's publishing the book because he often gets misquoted, and he's trying to combat that. This is actually a wise move; eliminate the middle man of media and take your marketing and public relations into your own hands and you can be a totally free artist. The book itself, which isn't actually about ensuring Kanye gets accurately quoted and seems more concerned with GIANT BRIGHT LETTERS and quick-hitting, almost-clever proverbs, is goofy and inoffensive. It would be a perfect toilet book and just another piece to add to Kanye's collection of bizarre and unpredictable career moves. One more thing to add to the legend he seems bent on creating for himself.

But What if Kanye West is Retarded?

If Kanye West is retarded, then he genuinely believes this book contains useful words to live by, and that is horrifying.

Exhibit A is, of course, the fact that his book (which includes pearls of wisdom like "I hate the word hate!"), was not written alone. That's right, this 52 page, multi-colored, spiraled collection of toilet paper was coauthored by J. Sakiya Sandifer. Why Kanye needed a second author is beyond me ("Hey, what's another word for hate?" "Hm....Hate?" "NICE!"), but it's not at all confidence-inspiring, especially when you consider what made it into the book:

In addition to that being completely stupid, it should be "used to," not "use to." Now, I'm not going to pretend my spelling and grammar are always perfect, but seriously Kanye and other author whose name I've already blocked out, there's only, like, eight different words in your entire book. You really want to make those count. There's also a beautiful irony in an author misspelling words in his debut book after he publicly denounces school and reading as useless. Wait, that's not irony. He's illiterate.

Also Kanye said that he "wouldn't want a book's autograph."

So... there's that.

Kanye West vs. College

For two whole albums, Kanye rails against college and education in general. At first glance, it seems likely that he detects some discrimination in Chicago's public school system. It's possible, based on his own success that occurred independent of formal schooling, that he thinks the whole system is inefficient, or that the wrong set of skills are being encouraged. That's admirable. Plenty of intelligent people embrace unschooling, a practice that seeks effective alternatives to conventional education.

But What if Kanye West is Retarded?

If Kanye West is retarded, it means that he wrote two albums attacking college because he gets frustrated with complex numbers and words that are a) longer than three syllables and b) not written in all caps.

Kanye West's Shoes or Name Change or Something

Broadcasting from a hotel room in what he alleges is Paris ("PAREEE!"), Kanye announces that he a) has some delicious champagne, b) has his own Louis Vuitton shoe and that c) due to circumstances beyond his or anyone's control, he needs to change his name. He says "I've been called the Louis Vuitton Don," (despite the fact that the only person I've ever heard using that phrase to describe Kanye was, in fact, Kanye), but he declares that his new name shall be "Martin Louis the King... Junior." Strange, but it also means that Kanye can add shoe designer to his already impressive track record. And that sure is some kind of... something.

But What if Kanye West is Retarded?

Then it was perhaps irresponsible of us to give him champagne and leave him alone in a hotel room.

Kanye West VS. George Bush

You all remember what happened. A few years ago, Kanye West went on TV in the middle of a disaster, veered off teleprompter and barked "George Bush doesn't care about black people." At the time, I thought it was either a passionate, gut reaction (albeit, an ill-advised one) or just a calculated rant under the guise of outrage, designed to make controversy and headlines. If that's the case, to his credit (or colossal shame, depending on whether or not you think seeking headlines in the middle of a disaster can be considered admirable) it worked. In either scenario, we have an artist who isn't afraid to get political and challenge the highest American authority, which is a sure-fire way to earn your spot in the Insane Musician Hall of Fame.

But What if Kanye West is Retarded?

If Kanye is retarded, it obfuscates things a little bit. To get a better grasp on the situation, I did the follow-up research that I never did at the time of the incident. Apparently, Kanye did an interview regarding his comments shortly after his words, and he explained that he honestly believed that people might understand him better based on his comments. He didn't make any motions towards either apologizing or expanding on his sound bite, he just thought, "Hey, that comment gives people a good introduction into who Iam as a person.Me."

Hurricane Katrina was wonderful for Kanye's public perception.

And what exactly did he think people understood? Not that he was a goon, or a shameless opportunist, no. He felt that the words showed the world that he had, in his words, "little baby Tourette's, maybe not quite diagnosed" as evidenced by how "the truth just comes out accidentally like what's off the top of [my] mind."

So, here is the list of things we need to understand based on Kanye's statements...

A) Kanye West genuinely thinks he suffers from an undiagnosed form of Tourette's;B) Kanye West thinks Tourette's syndrome is when you accidentally speak the truth in the heat of the moment;C) Kanye West believes that people will understand him better now that they're aware of his undiagnosed, nonexistent condition.

...and our conclusions are, respectively, "No you don't," "No it isn't" and "You're an idiot."

The final and strangest point we can take away from his interview is that Kanye West seems to think that the degree of severity of Tourette's is measured on some kind of Baby Scale, where mild, sporadic adult onset Tourette's is classified as "little baby Tourette's" and, we can presume, more persistent and traumatic cases can be classified as "enormous super baby Tourettes."

As a sidebar, while it may not be Science's preferred method for measuring the severity of a disease, "little baby Tourette's," is a truly hilarious phrase. One of these days I'm going to invent a face-shitting cocktail that renders the drinker immediately incapable of controlling their speech and I am hereby officially calling shotgun on the rights to "Little Baby Tourette's" as the name of said drink.

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Daniel O'Brien

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