It’s obviously too little and too late for Kanye West to repair his public image among Grammy voters, but Yeezy may just be taking his first step forward (and it’s a tiny one) on the road to redemption—or at least the road to reminding people that he can do more than rant. West is releasing a two-disc CD/DVD his VH1 Storytellers from last February, featuring never before seen performances and a Q&A. (Did we say he can do more than rant? Oops. We hope that O.J. shout out in particular made the DVD.) In any case, Kanye’s visit to the Storytellers stage was taped long before September’s VMAs, so it comes off like a postcard from a simpler time.
As we noted the other day, there have been other indicators that the Kanye backlash is subsiding, or at least being offset by new (or freshly recalled) appreciation of his creativity: the six Grammy noms, and the appearance of The College Dropout and Graduation on various best-of-the-decade lists, for instance. It doesn’t hurt that other people are taking up the Hopelessly Caps-Locked Grammy Whiner mantle.
Then again, those six nominations speak loudest for what they’re not: recognition in the big and “most respected” Grammy categories. R&B blog Singers Room brings up a good point: Kanye scored a Best Rap Performance for a Duo or Group nomination for 808s & Heartbreak‘s “Amazing,” but his other five are all tied to tracks on which he was a guest, i.e. they weren’t his. But what love did you expect West to get when even comedic trailblazer Smokey Robinson felt comfortable dissing him during the nominations announcement?
What’s the real “lesson” Kanye’s supposed to take away here? No Grammy for your introspective album unless you put the Hennessy down and learn to be humble? Or was 808s just seen as a disappointment since it didn’t reach the heights of its predecessors? By the by, we could be remembering 2009 wrong, but “Heartless” sure seemed like this year’s “Umbrella” (or at least one of them) with the countless cover versions, including one that helped Kris Allen finally get noticed on American Idol.
Maybe in a few years, Kanye’s lack of Grammy love this year may join the ranks of the Most Egregious Grammy Shafts “Of All Time.” Then again, that honor might go to Whitney Houston, whose comeback album got squat.
Kanye West’ Storytellers album comes out January 5, 2010, but visit VH1′s site to watch more clips from the taping, which remain pretty faithful to the studio recordings (if sort of unimaginative). Spoiler alert: he gets to finish.