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"Kanye West", an Episode of VH1 Storytellers

1 rating: 3.0
Kanye West's appearance on VH1 Storytellers

The greatest singers and songwriters play their music and tell the stories behind their greatest songs on this acclaimed VH1 music performance series. Each one-hour episode takes viewers behind the scenes with a single artist or group, such as Ray Davies, … see full wiki

1 review about "Kanye West", an Episode of VH1 Storytellers

Performance was meant more for MTV Unplugged, not really Storytellers material.

  • Apr 6, 2009
  • by
I enjoy all VH1 StoryTellers whenever I catch one showing on TV, even if it is an artist that I don't listen to much.  I love hearing the story behind the songs and albums as well as the personal and intimate look at the artists who perform them. It allows me to appreciate each track to full extent when I can understand the context behind the lyrics, especially when the meaning comes from the artist himself.  So when VH1 announced Kanye West was going to perform on Story Tellers, I was excited to finally hear what was behind the madness of one of my favorite artists of all time.

With the release of 808s and Heartbreaks, I was expecting to hear something different from Kanye - but still was excited to hear the stories behind his songs. I love how he explained off the bat the meaning behind 808 and his facelift of a change in style...

"So many people get caught up in trying to remake their first album. It's impossible for me to make another College Dropout, but I can make the best Graduation and 808s that I can make, and I think that how you can keep advancing as an artist.[...]More than an artist, I'm a real person - and real people grow. And so, I wanted to sing my growth."

While most of the songs he performed were off the 808 album, he did perform a few hits from the  Graduation album such as Touch the Sky and Good Life, which are all time favorites of mine.  He performed with a complete band and orchestra, which I always enjoy about hip hop artists who do so.   But while I love Kanye as a performer, I wasn't entirely feeling him on the whole story telling level that Vh1 demands from artists who perform on the show.  Not all of the songs truly had explanations, and the ones that he did say a few words about had ambiguous meanings to them.  I mean - I  could certainly tell you what Jay-Z was talking about in the song ROC Boys after watching his appearance on Story Tellers, but I can't say the same about half of Kanye's songs that he performed.  And as a result, the show left me without the ability to begin appreciating Kanye's new work.

And while he talked much about his mother and her death, he didn't perform Hey Mama, which I thought was going to be a given on the show.  Story Tellers is a chance for artists to put an enhanced meaning into the lyrics people listen to, right? Wasn't it the chance to paint the picture that artists wanted people to see after the recording?  If so, where was Through the Wire or Roses? What about Heard 'Em Say or Champion? These songs were all obviously about Kanye's life - were they not more important that the selections he featured on the show that still left me connecting dots on my own?

I was pretty disappointed when the credits began rolling and I realized the show was over.  If anything, I was still curious about this man I call my favorite rapper.  He had invited me to hear his story on a show that is infamous for shedding a new and different light on artists, but instead performed a set that was more appropriate for MTV Unplugged; an intense display of live music and talent. As a performance set, Kanye delivered - as always.  But for Vh1 Storytellers, he left me hanging, unfortunately.

Don't get me wrong, this was still an incredible performance.  Would have loved to see it in person!I loved his stage setup, check out these clips if you missed the show.  If anything, truly quite more flashy and intrinsic than any other set I've seen on the show.

KWest on StoryTellers KWest on StoryTellers KWest on StoryTellers

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