A few years ago, Spin magazine took a look at Marilyn Manson and wondered if he was the last rock star left (which is, of course, a laughable suggestion today). Ever since the grunge era, the idea of being a “rock star” (in the cliché sense of the phrase) became something that somehow became uncool. Nobody wanted their lead singers to yell and curse and break stuff the way Robert Plant and Axl Rose used to. In fact, the most public outbursts of rock star behavior tended to be sternly condemned (Scott Weiland) or dragged into court (Kid Rock). But as the continuing success of Mötley Crüe has proven, the public still aches for rock star attitude and behavior that is a little dangerous and a lot ostentatious.
Luckily, we have Kanye West, who chatted at length with “Ellen” host Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday (October 19) about his new album, his short film “Runaway,” his self-imposed banishment after the Taylor Swift incident and his latest rock star twist: His diamond teeth.
“There are just some things it seems rock stars are supposed to do,” West told DeGeneres, who was thrown off by the fact that West’s lower chompers were legit and in fact not just covered up by a grill.
Here’s the thing: Musically, West’s teeth are meaningless. They aren’t going to have any effect on his output one way or another. But Kanye understands how important public perception is (in fact, he maybe understands too well) and he knows that he is able to project a certain persona to the outside world — a persona that will keep him on the lips of fans, followers and haters alike (Kanye also knows there’s no such thing as bad publicity).
West is an extremely talented artist, but he’s also a hell of a sociologist, and he knows that the public demands extreme behavior from their rock stars. They want to be able to graft their own desires on these larger-than-life individuals and let them play out our darkest desires. That’s the whole reason why we fell in love with rock music in the first place. If the rest of the music world isn’t going to step up, then West is more than happy to oblige and play that role. What’s so important about Kanye West’s new teeth? Everything.