In spite of the rumours being almost certainly bullsh*t (I for one doubt that The Daily Star has sources in Kanye West’s inner circle), thousands of people boringly flocked to a predictable petition this week seeking to “ban” the rapper from giving his own take on David Bowie’s material.
“It would be sacrilege,” petitioners whined, as if a man who delighted in reinvention would have been bothered by his work spawning more of it following his death.
Covers/remixes are frequently dull and superfluous, and there might not be a person alive who could do Bowie’s oeuvre justice, but would Bowie have been bothered by Kanye giving it a go? No:
David Bowie liked hip-hop, specifically West’s latest collaborator, Kendrick Lamar
"For his new album ★, “we were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar,” his long-serving producer Tony Visconti told Rolling Stone.
“We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved that Kendrick was so open-minded and that he didn’t do a straight-up hip-hop record [To Pimp A Butterfly].
“He threw everything on there, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll.”
Kendrick’s influence is clear in the wounding brass lines in the album, and ‘not doing a straight-up hip-hop record’ and ‘throwing everything on there’ are definitely traits of Kanye’s too, from the furious and subversive Yeezus to the paradigm-shifting 808s and Heartbreak.
Hell, Bowie's friend Lou Reed found Yeezus "Majestic and inspiring".
Kanye paid Bowie proper respect, which I’m sure he would have appreciated
David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 11, 2016
Ye has done a good job reworking other rock musician’s work in the past
He sampled King Crimson, made great use of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon on vocal hooks, and once did a really bloody pleasant cover of Thom Yorke:
Bowie has been sampled countless times in hip-hop
J Dilla, Public Enemy, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Jay Z, MF Doom, Death Grips and El-P have all used snippets of track, for which they would have been granted permission.
Kanye generally gives zero f*cks, and neither did Bowie
If anyone’s going to make a David Bowie tribute album (N.B. I still don’t think anyone should) who could be more fitting than Kanye? A man who has taken huge risks, who reevaluates his own work, persona and artistic goals on a near daily basis and who seems driven by a desire to shake things up?
They share an obsession with creativity. I’ll leave you with these two quotes.
‘I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.’ - David Bowie
‘I have no interest in working with anyone who is too important or too good or too traditional to take a call at 3am.’ - Kanye West