10 Laws of Power That Kanye West Has Seemingly Mastered

10 Laws of Power That Kanye West Has Seemingly Mastered

No one man should have all that power-Kanye West "Power"

If you don't have a copy of Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power, I suggest you add it to your library.  The book is dense. It is filled with old age wisdom from a new aged approach.  You'll read stories that support the observances of each law as well as anecdotes that break many of the lessons down into easy to grasp and understand messages. 

Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this piecing work distill three thousand years of the history of power into forty-eight well-explicated law. As attention-grabbing in its design as it is in its content, this bold volume outlines the laws of power in their unvarnished essence, synthesizing the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun-tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, and other great thinkers--48 Laws of Power

It's been noted as one of the books that all rappers read.  It's a hip-hop prerequisite, if you will.  And I'd be lying if I said I've read this book in it's entirety--it is a lot of information packed into 430 pages. Sometimes it seems downright wrong, and sometimes it seems like common knowledge.  This book will open your eyes to the ways of the world in a way you would have never imagined.  This book has been staring me down for a while now, and after all of the recent drama surrounding Kanye West, I decided to pick it back up.  What I found were a lot of explanations for perhaps some of his "bizarre behavior".  Many people are speculating as to what the cause is of his recent hospitalization and cancellation of the remainder of the Saint Pablo Tour.  I am not here to speculate: I thought I'd share 10 of the laws that seem to give a little insight into the mind and career of Mr. West. 

LAW 3

CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS

Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions.  If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense.  Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

If Kanye West isn't the best example of this in hip-hop, then I don't know who is.  So many examples come to mind, but when Kanye said that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" on national TV during the live broadcast of A Concert for Hurricane Relief back in September 2005 after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, the world definitely took notice.  Imagine the hashtags had we had them back then! 

LAW 6

COURT ATTENTION AT ALL COSTS

Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing.  Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion.  Stand out.  Be conspicuous, at all cost.  Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.

Robert Greene continues by saying "draw attention to yourself by creating an unforgettable, even controversial image.  Court scandal  Do anything to make yourself seem larger than life and shine more brightly that those around you. Make no distinction between kinds of attention--notoriety of any sort will bring you power.  Better to be slandered and attacked than ignored."

This is an obvious tactic employed by Kanye.  Everything about him screams "LOOK AT ME!" From his fashion, his shows, to the women he chooses, his goal is to grab your attention upon his arrival.  Part of this can be seen with his interaction with the paparazzi.  So many celebrities find a way to completely avoid them.  Others don't.  The Kardashian family has built an empire upon the lure of the paparazzi, so it's no surprise that this tactic contributes to his power.

LAW 12

USE SELECTIVE HONESTY AND GENEROSITY TO DISARM YOUR VICTIM

One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones.  Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will.  A timely gift--a Trojan horse--will serve the same purpose.

Let's just hope that this is a recent tactic he's decided to employ.  Recently, he disclosed that although he didn't vote, had he voted he would have "voted on Trump."  The collective community gasped.  What. In. The. F*ck? The fact that he said this and continued on to compliment the president-elect was confusing to most.  This is just my conjecture, but perhaps it's another tactic being employed?  I think most of really hope so. But I can't figure out why we as Black people need to "stop focusing on racism" though, says the man that wrote Jesus Walks.  

 

LAW 16

USE ABSENCE TO INCREASE RESPECT AND HONOR

Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear.  If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired.  You must learn when to leave.  Create value through scarcity.

This leads me to the most recent chain of events.  According to the New York Post, "Kanye West is reportedly under psychiatric evaluation at UCLA Medical Center after a string of odd behavior, mid-concert rants and an abrupt cancellation of his 'Saint Pablo Tour.'" Between the on-stage rants and the cancellation of his tour, he made time to actually post 99 new posts on his Instagram account before news of his hospitalization.  I have been known to be one of Kanye's biggest fans among my friends and family, but I was having a hard time defending his actions this past week.  It actually hurt me to watch him, because deep down, I just knew.  I knew he was struggling.  It was apparent.  Many people on Twitter are saying that he never took the time to properly mourn his mother's death.  Others point to the fact that his final show was on the anniversary of his mother's death.  This coupled with the robbery that his wife experienced in Paris while we was on stage, we can surmise that it all became too much for him. He is a human being after all. 

Twitter is all abuzz today.  This is proof that, no matter how cryptic, this tactic works.  The #PrayforKanye hashtag has been trending all day today.  I've been tweeting more than usual. In times like these, people will remember the good over the bad if they are true fans.  I hope that somehow, he feels the love from the people, that we are lifting him up and actually praying for his well-being. At least I know I am.  And then Twitter showed me this, and I was shocked I hadn't seen it before and sad that no one was able to get to him before now.  This is how he communicates, and we need to try and be aware to everyone's way of crying for help.

LAW 17

KEEP OTHERS IN SUSPENDED TERROR: CULTIVATE AN AIR OF UNPREDICTABILITY

Humans are creatures of habit with an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people's actions.  Your predictability gives them a sense of control.  Turn the tables: Be deliberately unpredictable.  Behavior that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off-balance, and they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves.  Taken to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize.

I'm sure y'all know where I'm going with this *cough cough Taylor Swift*.  America's Sweetheart vs. the Evil Black Rapper.  It was perfect for her, and in some ways, it allowed Kanye to become more a household name, even if it was for the "wrong" reasons.  This feud continued on in the eyes of America and an action that Mr. West couldn't seem to shake nor did he seem to get over.  So much so, that the know infamous feud boiled over into a leaked conversation between the two discussing Kanye's track "Famous".  In true Kardashian style, Kim revealed the conversation (via SnapChat, no less) the two had regarding the song and his use of the word "bitch".  Whether or not she saw the whole vision was of no consequence: Taylor lost a considerable amount of credibility and went into her own version of "hiding" soon after. But she didn't stop there. Taylor tried to get the last word in by throwing subliminal shots during her speech at the GRAMMYs in 2016.  But he is still talking about how damaging this incident was, as recently as last week at his San Antonio show that was cut short. Relive the leaked conversation below: as a Kanye fan and a victim of seemingly cute but ruthlessly aware females, this was vindication for me. 

LAW 25

RE-CREATE YOURSELF

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you.  Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience.  Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you.  Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions--your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.

Any real Kanye fan knows that 808s and Heartbreak is one of the most innovative, provocative and mesmerizing albums in the history of hip-hop.  Sonically, it was an extreme departure from The College Dropout and Late Registration.  

Conceived in the wake of a series of distressing personal events, 808s & Heartbreak marked a major musical departure for West from his previous rap records, instead featuring a sparse, electronic sound and West singing through an Auto-Tune vocal processor. His lyrics explored themes of loss, alienated fame, and heartache, while the album's production abandoned conventional hip-hop sounds in favor of a sonic palette, which included prominent use of the titular Roland TR-808 drum machine. -- Wikipedia

When I'm feeling down, this album hits home for me.  I know what it's like to be heartbroken.  I know what it's like to lose love.  I know what it's like to lose someone dear to my heart.  I understand death, love, loss, pain, as we all do.  This is perhaps one of my favorite albums.  His commitment to a different sound, the mastery of, at the time, a controversial way of creating sounds and color are all examples of re-creating oneself.  One thing is for sure, Kanye will never be "boring" and is clearly the "master of his own image".  Today I decided to listen to the entire discography from start to finish, and as I am writing this, I am listening to 808s. The beauty of art is that great artists are able to translate their own pain into something beautiful--this album is no exception.  

LAW 30

MAKE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SEEM EFFORTLESS

Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease.  All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed.  When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more.  Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work--it only raises questions.  Teach no one your tricks or they will be used against you.

'it's not that so much we're geniuses; we're dreamers and we're just bringing our dreams to life constantly"

So there's this other law called The Law of Attraction. 

The law of attraction is the name given to the maxim "like attracts like" which in New Thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from "pure energy", and the belief that like energy attracts like energy.

If you need an example of this law in action, please refer back to this article.  Kanye is successful because he believes he will be.  And maybe he doesn't purport that it's ever been easy (we've heard him talk about how difficult it was to break into fashion and to be taken seriously as a designer--but he did it), yet he sure does make it look that way.  He is single-handedly the reason why many artists have gotten in the game in the first place.  Many of them may not understand the amount of time and work it takes to achieve such levels of success.  Many people give up on their dreams because they are not easy to achieve.  Many people take that job and marry that person because they cannot envision the life of their dreams.  That is the difference: the ability to not only have a dream, but have the vision to see those dreams to fruition. It is clearly easier said than done. Although he often compares himself to other geniuses like Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo and Steve Jobs, it is this exact bravado that fuels his success

For me, I look up to those who pursue their passions relentlessly, those who do not deter even when it seems impossible.  That is the definition of success: making the impossible possible. So, here's to the dreamers and the doers.  I needed this post myself because it's so easy to get down on yourself.  After you feel you've tried everything with no results, it's certainly easier to quit.  That's the moment you have to keep going, because that very moment you try again could very well lead you to your breakthrough.  Watch this if you need inspiration from "The Old Kanye".

LAW 34

BE ROYAL IN YOUR OWN FASHION: ACT LIKE A KING TO BE TREATED LIKE ONE

The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated: In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you.  For a king respects himself and inspires the same sentiment in others.  By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.

Yeezus and Kanye are interchangeable now, but when he first dropped the concept, many people literally rebuked him, like they wanted to throw the Holy Water on him.  The condemned him, said he was blasphemous and a part of the Illuminati, they even boycotted his Yeezus album. Most of us now understand the reference, and if you don't, here is a verse from the Bible that may help you to get a better grasp of what is going on here:

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 
32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, I said, you are gods’? 
35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came and Scripture cannot be broken--John 10

Kanye is not shy about his "god-like" status or, as some would put it, "complex".  Ego aside, this may be one of the most important lessons we can learn from the self-dubbed Yeezus.  Why not think of ourselves as (lower case) gods?  If Jesus himself views each and every one of us as gods on earth, why wouldn't we think the same of ourselves?  Maybe Kanye's explanation will sufice. If not, I'm not sure that there is much else to say. If you get it now, maybe you will hear the message in I Am A God and the whole concept of Yeezus a little differently this time:

 

LAW 37

CREATE COMPELLING SPECTACLES

Striking imagery and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of power--everyone responds to them.  Stage spectacles for those around you, then, full of arresting visuals and radiant symbols that heighten your presence.  Dazzled by appearances, no one will notice what you are really doing.

Nothing says "spectacle" in hip-hop more than pretty much everything that Kanye West touches.  From floating stages on the "Saint Pablo Tour" to larger than life fashion shows that seemingly make no sense (see how I deciphered Yeezy Season 3's recent fashion extravaganza here), Kanye certainly has a flair for the dramatic.  Rants and rap beefs included, a spectacle is always brewing when it comes to Mr. West.  And we love him for it!

We also don't have to search too much to know that Kanye's use of metaphor is one of the most striking and memorable aspects of his art.  Think about Spaceship, Through the Wire, Crack Music, Pinnochio Story, Devil In A New Dress, New Slaves, Blood On The Leaves, and Waves, you get a glimpse into the clever way Kanye weaves his stories.  This is a staple in hip-hop as much as good flow and a punchline.  I love him for this, because you aren't just listening to mindless music: there is most likely a message in there if you pay enough attention.  Classically speaking, this is something that we are missing right now, but I digress.

When it comes to music videos, Kanye does the most.  Compelling, colorful, emotional, you name it, he's done it.  One of my favorite spectacles from Kanye is the short film for Runaway.  It's been noted that it is a metaphor for his life. 

 ""It definitely relates to everything that I've been through, like, burning to the ashes and rebuilding and becoming a better person and delivering better product." --Kanye west

 

LAW 48

ASSUME FORMLESSNESS

By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack.  Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability of lasting order.  Everything changes.

 

This may be the most important of all the 48 laws and maybe the most difficult one to master.  In the age of social media, we are always ready to tell everyone what we did, what we are currently doing, and what we plan to do next.  According to Robert Greene, this is a grave mistake.  

People weighed down by a system and inflexible ways of doing things cannot move fast, cannot sense or adapt to change.  They lumber around more and more slowly until they go the way of the brontosaurus.  Learn to move fast and adapt or you will be eater. Be like a vapor.  Do not give your opponents anything solid to attack; watch as they exhaust themselves pursuing you, trying to cope with your elusiveness. --Robert Greene

Maybe this is what we are seeing right now.  Maybe this is what we've witnessed over the course of his entire career.  In a way, this law is the summation of all 48 laws.  If you can remember this law, you are already a step ahead of your competitors.  When people were creating beats from scratch, Kanye became famous for using samples.  When others were making fun of the use of auto-tune, Kanye embraced it and ran with it.  When guys were working on their streetwear clothing lines, Kanye went to left and descended into high fashion.  There are many examples over Kanye's illustrious  career that exemplify these 10 laws and then some.  I am grateful for his music, for his example, for his genius.  I know that this won't be the last we hear from him, as he has been one of the most resilient and ambidextrous creators in hip-hop culture.  But right now, I am hoping that he takes the time to heal himself.  He has given us so much of himself, whether we like what he provides or not, so maybe it's time he reevaluate things and come back stronger than ever before.  The culture needs him.  2016 has been a tough year for the world, so right now, we must dig deep to stay positive and be the light in the world. Another thing that's easier said than done, but someone has to do it, why not us?

Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power is availble everywhere, including Amazon.  Pick up your copy here

I'll close this with something positive and uplifting: Good Life ft. T-Pain