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Nick Cave once named "the greatest artist on Earth"

Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files offer a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of the Australian artist on a monthly basis. It opens up a dialogue with his fan base and has seen Cave discuss an array of difficult topics, such as his battle with grief amid serious loss within the family.

Cave doesn’t always approach heavy subjects in the newsletter, and sometimes, he prefers to take on lighter topics. The former Birthday Party frontman regularly provides readers with an update on what music he’s recently been listening to, book recommendations, and nuggets of songwriting advice.

Few artists have such a tight-knit relationship with their fanbase as Cave does, partly due to his open communication. Occasionally, he does throw up a curveball with his updates, and in 2020, Cave surprised his fans with who he labelled as “the greatest artist on Earth”.

Cave’s answer was prompted by a fan called Naja from Los Angeles, who simply asked him: “Do you like Kanye?” Before providing his response, the Aussie had never spoken about his adoration for the rapper, and nobody could have expected him to write about Ye in such superlative terms.

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In his precise reply, Cave explained: “Making art is a form of madness – we slip deep within our own singular vision and become lost to it. There is no musician on Earth that is as committed to their own derangement as Kanye, and in this respect, at this point in time, he is our greatest artist.”

A few months later, Cave once again discussed West on The Red Hand Files following a question from a Belgian supporter called Vassilis. They asked: “Is it true that Kanye’s new album is delayed because you both took the last-minute decision to include a track you have been working on together?”

Unfortunately for Vassilis, he didn’t get the response he hoped for, and Cave brutally shot down the unlikely collaboration. He economically replied to the Belgian: “Dear Vassilis, No. Love, Nick.”

Although a collaboration between the pair seems unlikely, Cave’s opinion Kanye is the world’s greatest modern creative does align with comments he made in 2019 about the decline of rock music, and he believes the genre has deservedly lost its relevancy.

Cave wrote: “My feeling is that modern rock music, as we know it, has anyway been ailing for some time now. It has become afflicted with a kind of tiredness and confusion and faint-heartedness, and no longer has the stamina to fight the great battles that rock music has always fought. It seems to me there is little new or authentic, as it becomes safer, more nostalgic, more cautious and more corporate.”

Whether Cave still believes his statement about Kanye to be true after the rapper’s antics over the last two years and his disappointing Donda collection is unlikely. However, undoubtedly, for a period, Ye was certainly in the conversation as one of the best.