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Kanye West: Jackass or “Stronger”?

Who is Kanye West? An innovator? A megalomaniac? A college dropout? In the words of Barack Obama, “he’s a jackass.” In an off-the-record comment for television in 2009, that’s just what the leader of the free world had to say about one of the biggest rap stars of the 21st century. These words, of course, came after the infamous Taylor Swift VMA award debacle, in which West bum-rushed the stage and touted Beyonce as the true winner of the Best Female Video award.

Kanye West

Now, whether West is a jackass or not is up for debate, but one thing is for certain: he’s a success. With 14 Grammy Awards under his belt and an estimated net worth of $70 million, he’s not only one of the biggest rappers of all time, he’s one of the biggest musical success stories of all time. Despite the cash and accolades, however, West has dealt with his fair share of troubles. On top of the Swift fiasco, West came under fire for saying “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on a live benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims. Strong opinions and a big mouth make for trouble, and West has come under major scrutiny by the media.

This article, however, is not about Kanye West; it’s inspired by him, one of his lyrics to be precise. I was listening to the radio in my car the other day and on came West’s 2007 single “Stronger.” If you haven’t heard it, the song contains the following lyric: “Now that don’t kill me can only make me stronger.” Simple?  For sure. But backed by a driving beat and electro vocal sample (courtesy of Daft Punk), the lyrics take on a kind of mantra that anyone who’s ever dealt with hardship and survived can relate to.

While you may or may not be a multi-millionaire who hangs deep with Jay-Z, you’ve certainly had your fair share of hardships, right? Maybe you flunked a class. Maybe you lost a job. Maybe your girl cheated on you, kicked your dog and took your truck. Unless you’re dead, none of these things have killed you, correct?

The fact is we all face frustration on a daily/weekly/yearly basis. Whether or not you choose to let your failures treat you like a little bitch is up to you. It’s super easy to give up, to withdraw, to write off something you hoped to achieve as unimportant or stupid.

Whether you’re a Kanye devotee or you think “Gold Digger” is a musical abomination (I really don’t know how you would), you can take his lyric “Now that don’t kill me can only make me stronger can only make me stronger” as inspiration. Lose your job? Put your nose to the grindstone and look for an even better one. Break up with your long-time girlfriend? Write a best-selling dating novel. You don’t have to get ripped apart by the president to get yourself heading on the right track.

“Stronger” debuted as a single in 2007, two years before the Taylor Swift incident. Rather than go into hiding at some tropical resort, West took his lyrics to heart, apologized for his faux-pas and came back on top.

Kanye West might be a jackass, but he’s not a quitter. If you want to be a success, be it as a rap star or ping pong champion , you’ve got to turn your negatives into positives.

Now the question is, what does Obama think about Lil’ Wayne?


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About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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