Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Kanye West: An argument

The following is a discussion I had with my friend, Andrew Trim, a jazz musician who performs in the Denver/Boulder, Colorado area. Trim is a thoughtful guy. You can have an interesting conversation with him about almost anything.

But, without question, the topic he’s most qualified to discuss is music. He can knowledgeably describe music according to its “texture.” I’m guessing not more than two percent of the population could do that.¬† So I found his thoughts on Michael Jackson and Kanye West especially interesting.

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I think what’s clear, here, is that this is a conversation between a musician and some hoser who listens to music. Trim takes a purists view, which isn’t surprising considering he plays jazz music and rarely even listens to anything with lyrics. And I can’t argue with his basic argument, which is that the quality of Kanye West’s music is inferior to that of Michael Jackson, and that this is because Kanye is not as talented.

But I can argue that this might not matter.

At this point, it seems likely that Kanye will produce excellent albums for the forseeable future. Let’s say this future lasts 10 more years and five more albums. We can reasonably expect that Kanye’s 8th album will not sound like “College Dropout.” This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but if it turns out to be good, we’re talking about a guy who has probably either re-created hip hop in his own image (the best possible outcome), or successfully reinvented himself in a new genre (a largely irrelevant outcome).

If it turns out to be the former, and if all of these albums turn out to be commerically successful, it’s hard to imagine any other currently known artist coming closer to the musical relevance of Michael Jackson.

Now, that’s a lof of ifs, which is why I still contend that there will never be another Michael Jackson, but that Britney Spears might approach the craziness and Kanye might approach the musicianship.

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2 thoughts on “Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Kanye West: An argument

  1. Forget the auto-tune… musically, Kanye’s new album is helping push hip-hop in a new direction. It sounds more like Radiohead or another euro-style electronic band/artist than it does T.I. or whatever else.

    Kanye isn’t a great M.C. That’s not what he does. He’s a producer, and he’s the best. Whether it be on a Common album, a Jay-Z album or one of his own albums, he’s an epic talent.

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