Kanye West: Not a Gospel Virtuoso

So, a couple of thoughts about Kanye's show on SNL last night: 

You can watch the video here.

The concept is really good, however Kanye has not developed his voice well enough to execute it. 

West's shortcomings as a singer are highlighted by the sparse texture of the arrangements, and the virtuosity of his collaborators. For example, the beauty, virtuosity, and expressive quality of Kelly Price's vocals in this clip from SNL (Seriously, she crushes it!) underscore West's vocal shortcomings. Furthermore, West's attempt to mask his vocal using electronics--while usually a West Staple--only highlight the fact that here he is out of his depth. 

This poses an artistic problem for West. Not only are Kelly Price, The Dream, and Chance The Rapper at the top of their game (Chance does not use what would be considered a virtuosic gospel singing voice, but unlike West, Chance is signifyin on what we consider a beautiful singing voice, and rather than disrupting the music with nonconventional technique, adds to it with a kind of expressive reticence) but with the exception of West's vocal contribution, the music itself is quite good (It is refreshing to hear sparse textures in the age of over-arranged/overproduced pop music). This is only further exacerbated by the crucial cultural message embedded in the music. 

In conclusion: Kanye should take some voice lessons.

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