I have come across an array of YouTube remixes which confirm my year-old idea that Lisa is the successor to Nicki Minaj and, therefore, Kanye West. The victories of Nicki Minaj and Lisa at the MTV Awards night, with Nicki winning the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award and Lisa winning the K-Pop video award for Lalisa (the song that first inspired this idea), demonstrate almost certainly the connection I’m trying to tease out.
Of course, perhaps what I am saying seems banal and obvious. But rather, what seems banal has an undercurrent of depth — it is precisely the music that seems deep or morally uplifting that is, at heart, shallow to the core. This is the dialectical claim I wish to make — that the poetry of power is far more moral than any of the moralistic claims of woke art aspire to be. Lisa’s music encapsulates the hip hop focus on the drives for money and power in capitalism, while containing a germ of the critique of these drives that led Kanye West to make the greatest album of all time after his embarrassing MTV Awards event in 2008, which featured Janet Jackson, as well as Taylor Swift, who attended the 2022 MTV Awards event. Where was Kanye West? Clearly, it is not only the Weeknd who seeks to distance himself from Kanye — cancelling a performance to avoid appearing on stage with him, on the excuse of vocal difficulties.
Such is the Game of Thrones-esque world we live in. The idealists wish to avoid all similarity to the demonised; but is precisely those who demonise others who are the real demons. The only thing to fear is fear itself; the only doubt is doubt itself. To let go of fear and doubt is to embrace who we truly are. Hence Lisa is correct in describing the essence of her music as ‘me’, without need of further explanation. Lisa may be the heir of Janet Jackson, inspiring a host of stars in the future, but herself being sidelined in a similar manner to Billie Eilish’s snub at the latest Grammys, after winning the big four the year before.
It is in our society’s nature to under-recognise greatness and over-recognise mediocrity. This is the symptom of decaying capitalism that is most certain and most evident in contemporary culture. The tyranny of mediocrity is almost oppressive, almost smothering of all originality. And yet, originality shines forth — like a light in the dark. To win, there is no avoiding the risks of being cut down, like the tallest plant in a field of crops. The only answer is to rise higher, to grow taller, while avoiding those paths which lead to certain destruction. Harder, better, faster, stronger.