The $4.5 Million Reason Kanye West Is the Most Artistic Man in Hip-Hop


Kanye West has been telling us for months that he's absolutely done with pop radio. It's all "big business" and "no creativity," he said during a "visionary stream of consciousness" at a show in 2013. "When I listen to radio, that ain't where I wanna be no more." 

While those are easy statements to make, they can be hard words to live by in the world of pop's exorbitant paychecks. 

But not so much if you're Kanye.

On Monday, Billboard reported he has officially put his money where his mouth is. Kanye turned down $4.5 million for a string of live shows in Las Vegas, and in doing so has proven once again he's one of the most principled and artistically driven rappers in the game, with goals much bigger than his paycheck.

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If West had signed, it would have made him the Vegas Strip's highest paid performer. He would have earned about $500,000 per show, topping Britney Spears and Celine Dion, who each make $475,000 and $476,000, respectively. 

West's decision is indicative of his dreams to revolutionize music and fashion.  

Casino gigs are generally where artists go to die. Vegas does not encourage artistic innovation. The shows often feature artists recapping their hits and playing to the crowd's sense of nostalgia. This is last thing Kanye wants to do.

While Kanye has drawn a lot of flak for his radical anti-pop decision, he's creating memorable art. His last album, Yeezus, was an anti-pop manifesto, without one radio single. Though "Black Skinhead" got some radio play, became theme song of Wolf of Wall Street and appeared in a cell phone ad, the album remains one of the most radically subversive expressions against the pop industry's commercialization and homogenization. If any of the rumors about his next album are true, his follow-up will be even challenging than Yeezus.

Kanye is going to keep pushing forward to tear pop music a new one, multimillion-dollar paychecks be damned.