The hook to Kanye's "Ghost Town" was turning on itself in my head when I learned of Anthony Bourdain's passing. I have no relationship with Bourdain's work - for me, learning of his passing was another data point shaping a dismal arc, and a sick feeling in my stomach. Of where we are, now, here.
Sick is the way I'd describe the end of Kanye's Ghost Town (and, now with the release of Kids See Ghosts, its second part). It is, in my opinion, the role of musicians to aid people in connecting with deep feeling. As a means of grounding oneself, of building power, of admiring beauty. To say that life is filled with amazing things, and music helps us lean into feeling - making life more vibrant.
Something is deeply off when the catchiest hook on a new pop record (if we can call it that - I take issue with the assertion) is a glorification of numbness.
And it is anthemic - meant to be sung along to by crowds of people.
When I think of the most powerful lyrics of pop music, they are collective assertions of action, of feeling, all connected to a network of life-living that believes life to be worth living. Life to be rich. This is what I believe to be true, and I believe it is what we must assert as artists. Even as we write of life's difficulties, or warn of dangers and injustices inhibiting our life-living, we are investing time towards a better world, a better way of living.
Celebrating numbness is the opposite. It is clocking out.
Kanye demonstrates a lack of any sense of responsibility in his work.