Kanye West is not shy of giving his opinion on just about anything, and that goes beyond the caustic wit that he spits out in song. At one point in time, he has probably voiced his views on the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre, so it is no surprise that he has discussed the plethora of eclectic influences that have rubbed off on his ways, wormed their way into samples, or else inspired him through adulation alone. What is surprising, however, is the band that tickles his pickle from the world of rock.
Strong melodies are what drive Kanye’s rhymes, and it is that same asset that he looks for in others. “I think of melodies, I think of really strong melodies and stuff,” he said in an interview with the BBC.
It is this keen ear for infectious beats that has led him to delve into a diverse world of music throughout his career, whether that be nabbing samples from Stanley Kubrick soundtracks for my ‘Runaways’ on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or picking up old deep-cut funk grooves like ‘Today Won’t Come Again’ by lesser-known ‘70s artist like Donal Leace on ‘Hey Mama’. Kanye has always been drawn towards a catchy hook and pulsing energy more than anything else.
This is why its perhaps not as surprising as it might first seem that he told the BBC, “You know, [Red Hot Chili Peppers’] Anthony Kiedis wasn’t the best singer in the world, but that’s my favourite group.”
His love for the Californian band is not some flippant reactionary assertion like some of the other comments the rapper has made in the past. “My music is rock,” he added, “I listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers and I listen to one of my songs, and if I don’t give you the same emotion, then I go back and re-split.”
Back in the day before Kanye had reached the lofty heights where he could declare himself, “[50 per cent more influential than] Stanley Kubrick, Apostle Paul, Picasso… f****** Picasso and Escobar. By 50 per cent more influential than any other human being,” back before all that stuff, there was even a tour planned where he would support the band.
Chilli’s Bassist Flea told MTV prior to the Stadium Arcadium tour, “I think we’ll be doing some legs with Kanye, but I don’t know if that’s confirmed yet or not. I think we’re going to do a month or two with him.”
Before confirming that the love-in runs both ways, “I think it’s going to happen, and I hope it happens. He’s a great artist – and we always try to get the best people to play with that we can.”
The tour team-up sadly never went ahead and since those comments were made Kanye has gone on to eclipse just about the whole music industry in terms of sway. Whether he still abides by his comments or not remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers crop up in a sample for the presidential candidate and self-declared “closest thing Hip Hop is getting to God” any time soon.
Whether it be the underlying origins of both genres, Dre’s love of Nirvana or Ice-T’s adoration of heavy metal, the realms of rock and rap are never far away, but it always raises a curious eyebrow when the two influences meet.