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A self-professed underdog who has gone about things in a decidedly low-key way, now could be the perfect time for the Detroit rapper to make his mark

To mark the release of his latest album, I Decided., Big Sean went to Twitter to get out this little message: I know what it feels like to be the underdog, to know youre full potential and it not be recognized. All I can say is keep going, earn it!

Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, or Big Sean for short, arrived last decade under the tutelage of Kanye West. Often thought to be a lightweight Kanye, and compared to contemporaries like Drake and Kid Cudi, the Detroit native appeared to lack a distinct vision. He did have a worldview, but it was just one that was meeker, and more humbled than is traditionally accepted for top tier rap stars.

Work, imbued with a middle-America working class hustle, drives much of Seans music. His sophomore album, Hall of Fame, stressed that fact on the song 10 2 10 and even one of his early crossover hits was simply titled I Do It. A loud supporter of his hometown of Detroit, even as the city is often the butt of jokes and national shame, the rapper finds pride in offering his own hard grinded success story to those that doubted his city. Hes retold that origin myth across albums a similar narrative arc started his first two album but each retelling adds additional chapters. Thats what pushes him on Deserve It, from his 2015 album, Dark Sky Paradise, to retrace the steps of impressing Kanye to driving across the valleys of California valleys reflecting back on his success.

But success remains the final goal of the endless grinding. Thats the sad irony his best single, 2012s Guap, which opened with the Ive been grinding all goddamn year and I just got my check / Im gonna spend it on me and even featured a Big Pimpin-esque video shot in downtown Detroit didnt connect with audiences like his other songs. Humility seemed to remain a major selling point, even for a rapper who had been predicted to become the best rapper of all-time by Kanye West. Still an eternal optimist, late last year he released Bounce Back, which slowly scraped its way into the Billboard Top 20. The songs message, while not directly about his work ethic, the hook could be the thesis of all his work: Last night took I took an L / But tonight I bounce back.

Kanye West and Big Sean an award at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2015. Photograph: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

I Decided. shows another another step for Big Sean, as with a little bit of age, hes looking towards issues of the world that beyond his luxury hotel suite. My dad from Louisiana, man the smallest town / Where if they know you brown, they might hold you down / And even hose you down, man, Sean raps on Light, an early album cut and one of the many references on the album of the history of tension between the black community and law enforcement. Where Drake, especially on record, is aggressively apolitical, Big Sean is not shrinking from the spotlight that fame places on him, as he rhymes on No Favors, The D to Flint who get sick with lead / Others get the hit with the laugh / From where they need a handout / But they tell you put hands up.

Even though Kanyes own beginnings as a producer-turned-rapper were decidedly humble, once Sean was introduced to West, the old Kanye was long gone. West was known, even expected, to speak his mind whenever presented with the opportunity, but Seans ambitions, musically and politically, looked modest next to his midwestern mentor. Whereas the Chicagoan was and remains politically outspoken, Big Sean operated with smaller gestures. Instead of going on TV and saying that George Bush doesnt care about black people, Sean looked home and raised money for the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Big Sean was fine letting his actions do the talking, but I Decided. shows that his words can also fall in line.

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How do we move on from the mess that was 2016? Ive made a little list

Only a fool makes predictions, and I was foolish a lot in 2016. One of my more wince-inducing memories from the last benighted year took place on theThursday evening at Glastonbury. There Iwas, chatting away with one of the most senior managers at the Guardian, who happened to be there with her son. So youre not worried about the referendum tonight? she asked me.

God, no! I hooted, knocking back some more enamel-stripping wine bought from a nearby van.Britains a sensible country, it surely surely wont fall for the obvious lies peddled by those self-serving schuysters, Farage and Johnson. Itll be 60:40 remain.

Well, youve made me feel much better, Hadley! she said, grasping my shoulder like alifeboat. If only shed known Id sprung a leak.

Id bet my job on it! I said merrily, heading offinto the night.

Well. Given that you are currently reading me, you can see that the management here are more measured with their P45s than I am with my pretensions to telepathy.

I learned two lessons from that experience. First, Mystic Meg of the Guardian I am not. And second, when all else fails, using Yiddish words is at least afun distraction. But what needs to happen this year to help us all move on from that dumpster fire/everythings fine cartoon/comedy Joe Biden photo caption (delete according to your favourite internet meme of 2016)? Lets go old-school and list the hell outta this.

1. Honestly, I dont understand why Twitter hasnt deleted Trumps account. Hes retweeted antisemitic memes, engaged in targeted harassment and generally behaved like lets justsay it a massive troll. There is every chance hell start world war three this year with a misspelled tweet (Xi Jinping, president of the Peoples Republic of China: Wait, is he trying tosay that Im an unprecedented leader? First assistant to Xi Jinping: Hard to tell, sir. It may bea compliment, but it may also be an insult. XiJinping: To the military!) So, for the sake of world peace, it would be totally awesome if Trump no longer had access to a site that, as he told me when I interviewed him in 2012, has given him his own newspaper, where, when someone attacks me, I can attack them right back. The man will be president in a fortnights time, for Gods sake. Ithink he has a big enough platform. Please, someone, get him off this one.

2. Lets sort out language, please. In the year when everything imploded, language itself went (and I apologise for being obvious) Orwellian. Ifirst realised that elite had gone from meaning privileged and powerful to people Ijust dont like when I saw Arron Banks a man who looks increasingly like the evil svengali who emerges from the secret door behind the bookcase after James Bond has dispatched his bodyguards referring to journalists as the elite. But you own a diamond mine? someone, not unreasonably, said. Whats wrong with owning a diamond mine? he merrily replied. Someone has to.

Do they? Well, I guess. Maybe. Someone also hasto write the news, but those people are snooty snots; diamond mine-owners who fund political parties are courageous freedom fighters striving against the man. (The average salary of a British journalist: just under 24,000. The average salary of a diamond mine-owner: a gazillion pounds.)

Similarly, terms such as mainstream media, orMSM (translation: journalism I dont like), experts (people who say things I dont like) and identity politics (politics that dont assume the primacy of straight white men) were redefined, while not-very-codified euphemisms such as swarm and global order continue to perpetuate racism and antisemitism. And the left let this happen, being too hesitant to call out prejudice, misogyny and total falsehood where they saw them. The left wasnt able to match the rights shamelessness and, in some corners, even boughttheir narrative.

And here we are now, two weeks away from the inauguration of a billionaire straight out of central casting for the villain in a Batman movie (there are a lot of cartoon villains around these days), because 25.5% of Americans found him less elitist than Hillary Clinton. Lets end this, and insist upon accurate language. (Also, hurry up, Marty McFly, and get that almanac off the old man, so we can get out of this wrong timeline.)

3. For their sake and ours, its time to put the Kardashians in storage now. Basta.

While I may not be much cop at predictions, Icantell you this for free: unless all of the above is sorted, 2017 will not be an improvement on 2016. Were in this together, people.

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Reports of the LPs death were premature, and music and politics collided thanks to Chance The Rapper and Blood Orange

This was supposed to be the year we declared the album dead. All the industry predictions were that we would now only listen to music in playlists, and the new tastemakers would be Spotify employees making mood-defined collections of songs called things like Rainy Monday or Pre-Menstrual Synthpop. In fact, 2016 was notable for a string of spectacular, blockbuster full-length records from the biggest artists in the world: Beyonc, Kanye, Rihanna and Drake. These artists found ways to make their records feel like more than just music, controlling hype and excitement with innovative release strategies, most of which took place offline. Beyoncs feature-length visual album was debuted on good ol fashioned HBO; Kanye Wests Madison Square Garden album playback was streamed to cinemas worldwide; and fans hoping to peek at Frank Oceans high-concept album/coffee-table magazine had to queue up outside a newsagent at midnight. By shunning lazy social media promotion, artists found more meaningful connections with their fans; 2016 felt like a forgotten time where music was a shared experience, rather than a solo pursuit.

The supposed rules of the biz were also broken as artists who released music without record labels had genuine success. Skepta who self-released his Konichiwa was rewarded with the Mercury prize and a headline show at Alexandra Palace. But while its been a billboard year for established acts, breaking acts found it harder. Singers who were hotly tipped at the start of the year Jack Garratt, Frances had pitiful commercial performances; we are still waiting for a 2016 debut album by a British artist to go gold.

Political leader Chance The Rapper. Photograph: Maury Phillips/WireImage

The politicisation of music, meanwhile, continued apace. From moving scenes in Chicago, where Chance The Rapper led thousands of voters to the polls, to Ta-Nehisi Coates talking race and judgment on Blood Oranges Freetown Sound, its no longer taboo for artists to wear their political stripes on their sleeves. Unless, of course, you are Taylor Swift, who refused to endorse a candidate in the US election or encourage her fans to vote (until polling day where she posted a single pic of her outside a polling station).

If anything, 2016 signalled a return to a 1970s attitude to music: big stars have taken the role of public intellectuals, we no longer malign middle-aged artists on their seventh or eighth albums, and new artists are treated with suspicion. Perhaps, also like the 70s, something new and nihilistic will shake that up in 2017.

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Donald Trump says he and Kanye West have been friends a long time, telling reporters at Trump Tower the pair spoke about life during brief meeting

Kanye West met Donald Trump at Trump Tower on Tuesday morning, with the president-elect telling reporters they spoke about life.

West arrived at 9.13am and then he and Trump emerged from the towers gold elevator together around at around 9.53am and posed for photos in front of the waiting media.

When asked what they spoke about, Trump replied: Just friends, just friends. Hes a good man.

Later in the day, West tweeted that he he met with the president-electto discuss multicultural issues including bullying, education, and violence in his hometown of Chicago.

KANYE WEST (@kanyewest)

I wanted to meet with Trump today to discuss multicultural issues.

December 13, 2016

KANYE WEST (@kanyewest)

These issues included bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago.

December 13, 2016

West received a lot of criticism online from his fans because of the meeting. On Twitter, he said he felt a relationship with the incoming president was important if we truly want change.

KANYE WEST (@kanyewest)

I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change.

December 13, 2016

West often addresses issues relating to politics and race relations in the US. He previously claimed that he would run for president in 2020, first at the Video Music Awards in 2015, then in his lyrics for Facts on his almbum The Life of Pablo: 2020 Ima run the whole election. However, his focus now seems to have shifted to 2024.

KANYE WEST (@kanyewest)


December 13, 2016

Trump did not answer questions about whether West would perform at his inauguration the president-elect has reportedly been struggling to find any willing high-profile artists and said the two had been friends a long time.

Life. We discussed life, said Trump, who has been running his presidential transition process from the Manhattan skyscraper where he lives.

West said: Im just here to take a picture right now, and ignored reporters other questions.

The pair then dapped, and Trump said: So long, man. You take care of yourself. Ill see you soon.

Pool reporter Tal Kopan posted a video of the interaction on Instagram:

At a concert in San Jose on 17 November, West said that if he had voted in the presidential election which he had not he would have backed Trump.

I wouldve voted on Trump, said West, while many in the audience booed.

I dont think his approach was just entertaining, because that trivializes it, I actually think his approach was absolutely genius because it fucking worked, said West.

According to one concertgoer, West also said that Trumps election campaign inspired racists to reveal themselves.

This is the beginning, West said, according to one attendee, adding: Neither candidate would fix racism in this country.

Kanye West arrives at Trump Tower with his entourage on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Just three days later, West checked into the UCLA medical center, suffering from exhaustion and lack of sleep, and spent a week there receiving mental health treatment.

His wife, Kim Kardashian, who has made no public appearances since a robbery in Paris in October, where she was tied up and robbed of millions of dollars worth of jewelry, was not with him for his arrival at Trump Tower. His entourage included a videographer. Trumps daughter Ivanka was also there.

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Spurned in the Grammy nominations shortly after a hospital stay, Kanye West is just the latest celeb whose mental health is tabloid gold

When I was in my 20s, I remember my therapist patiently listening to me complain about how out-of-my-depth I often felt around other gay men. I was asking her why they always seemed so effortlessly aloof and cool, whereas I was and to some extent, still am a slobbering golden retriever of a person, quivering with eagerness to be your new best friend.

Youll waste a lot of time and spoil a lot of happiness comparing your insides to other peoples outsides, she told me.

I think about this a lot when I see famous people rock stars, celebrities, politicians going into meltdown mode. Trainwreck TV is one of our cultures most avid pleasures. In the words of Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous, Its the only blood sport they havent banned, darling.

Right now, everyone is waiting to see what the next eruption from Kanye West will be now that hes out of the hospital after months some would say years of erratic behavior, bizarre concert spectacles and public meltdowns. Its almost expected, since the Grammy nominations were announced this week and West was again shut out of the major categories.

A few years ago the spectacle du jour was Amanda Bynes, and before that, Britney Spears when she shaved her head and ended up under psychiatric care.

Weve shaken our heads and tutted over the breakdowns of Mariah Carey and Courtney Love, Amy Winehouse and Gary Busey, Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle, Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole Smith any celebrities who have had the misfortune to exhibit symptoms of mental illness while living in the public eye.

We take a certain sanctimonious pleasure in these peoples public disintegration and show shockingly little compassion, as though their wildly successful careers and personal fortunes make their pain more acceptable than that of mere mortals.

If a random woman we dont know starts babbling nonsense and getting hysterical while were out shopping, its tragic. We avert our eyes. We tell our families when we get home how unsettling and upsetting it was. But when Spears does it, its a Rolling Stone cover story that we consume with the eagerness of kids tearing into a bag of candy.

Its the same mentality that allows a racist troll like Milo Yiannopoulos to airily wave away the steaming, reeking mountain of harassment his followers and supporters firehosed at Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, mostly on Twitter. Leslie Jones is a rich and famous actress; who cares if people say nasty things about her on the internet?

At what point do we stop valuing celebrities humanity?

Is it an income-level thing? Kanye West has got a lot of money. Hes one of the most well-known performers on the planet who isnt Beyonc or Beyonc-adjacent. He has broken paradigms and yes, over-extended his brand, as it were, in a couple of areas, but hes also a creative young person with a young family under tremendous pressure who lost his beloved mother nine years ago.

He has written openly about his love for liquor, cocaine and other intoxicants. It does not take a tremendous amount of imagination to piece together what may have happened here to a stressed-out artist in pain.

Lets pretend for a moment that it isnt Kanye West, but Keith West, who you knew in college who works for a life insurance company now. What if his mother died in surgery and he began a multi-year downward spiral?

Would you be gawking if Keith got placed on involuntary hold in a psychiatric unit? Would you be sharing links about Keith on Twitter and Facebook and marveling that someone could become such a mess?

Kanye West may be, as President Obama once said, a jackass from time to time. But hes also still a person.

Millions of dollars in the bank doesnt mean anything when you want your mom and shes gone, I suspect, any more than the significantly less princely sum in my own checking account does. You cant buy five more minutes to be with your dead mom for any amount of money, large or small.

So, maybe the next time you start to click on that Perez Hilton link about whichever celebritys mind has most recently hit the big bug-zapper, take a second. Ask yourself how youd feel if your lifes most humiliating, confused, disoriented moment was out there for public amusement.

If the person suffering at the other end of that hyperlink was Keith and not Kanye, would you still click it?

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A number of high profile cases have meant the macho music genre is increasingly keeping it real about mental illness

In the final shot of Kanye Wests video for his 2008 track Love Lockdown the rapper curls up into a foetal position in the middle of a bright white room, his head clutched desperately in his hands. It is a moment of vulnerability many might see as being at odds with the antagonistic, controversy-courting megastar, who declares himself a god, has snatched awards from the hands of Taylor Swift and makes dramatic outbursts on television chat shows.

Yet this week, as news broke of the singers hospitalisation in the psychiatric ward of UCLA, reportedly for stress and exhaustion following a week of erratic behaviour on stage and the subsequent cancellation of his tour, the pressures on hip-hop artists to conceal mental health vulnerabilities have come under almost unprecedented scrutiny.

Wests hospitalisation comes at a pivotal time for hip-hops complex relationship with mental health. Rather than distancing themselves from Wests possible mental health issues, fellow musicians such as Chance the Rapper, Wests recent collaborator, told the BBC he wanted to extend a special prayer to my big brother Kanye West.

Grammy-winning hip-hop producer 9th Wonder tweeted:

9th Wonder (@9thwonder)

Been knowing the brother upwards of 13 years. Mental healing is a serious thing, no matter what. Stay strong Kanye West.

November 22, 2016

These responses suggest attitudes, and stigmas, are changing. The macho and often adversarial culture of hip-hop, coupled with the fact that African American men are significantly less likely to seek help for mental health issues, has meant, in the public arena at least, it was rarely discussed.

That is not to say it has been ignored entirely. Dr Akeem Sule, a consultant psychiatrist, and Dr Becky Inkster, a clinical neuroscientist, both at the University of Cambridge, recently set up an initiative, Hip Hop Psych, after their academic research proved how much hip-hop lyrics can help people open up about their own mental health issues.

We have to look to the origins of hip-hop to really understand how much mental health has always been at its core, said Sule and Inkster.

It developed in the mid 70s in the South Bronx, where gangs were roaming the streets, there was a drug epidemic, there was extreme poverty, a housing crisis. You throw in absent fathers, losing family to crime, people with no support; all those are ingredients for mental health problems.

The pair pointed to songs such as Tupac Shakurs So Many Tears, where he speaks about the impact his environment has on his own mental health and the struggles he has coping, as well as Geto Boys early-90s track Mind Playing Tricks on Me, which is widely acknowledged to be about psychosis.

Tupac Shakurs So Many Tears touches on the subject of the rappers mental health.

However, the disparity, Sule and Inkster pointed out, was that while the lyrics documented struggle and depression, it was a very different story when it came to artists giving interviews or performing.

There was this very masculine culture of hip-hop where you had to be resilient and you couldnt show any signs of weakness, said Sule and Inkster.

While the lyrics spoke of mental health problems covertly, there was a stigma, particularly with the black men living in these communities where rap and hip-hop was emerging from, about saying outright I have depression or addressing mental health issues.

But, as the conversation around mental health in the music industry has opened up over the past couple of years, particularly over the psychological toll of being in the public eye, hip-hop had evolved and started owning depression as something other than a sign of weakness, said Sule and Inkster.

In October, Ohio rapper Kid Cudi, made a public statement to say he had been hospitalised and admitted anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember.

Its been difficult for me to find the words to what Im about to share with you because I feel ashamed, he wrote. Yesterday I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges Im scared, Im sad, I feel like I let a lot of people down and again, Im sorry. Its time I fix me. Im nervous but [Im going to] get through this.

The wave of support that Kid Cudi received from some of the biggest names in hip-hop, from A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott to Wiz Khalifa and even West himself and the fact it gave rise to trending hashtag #YouGoodMan as a way to discuss race, masculinity and depression was a clear indicator that the mental health stigma in hip-hop is dissipating.

According to Inkster and Sule it was a conversation that began to open up in 2011 when DMX admitted that many of his public struggles with addiction and crime were related to his bipolar disorder. More recently, it has been evident in rapper J Cole talking publicly about his struggle with depression, and fronting the #OKNotToBeOK campaign and in Grammy-nominated Chicago rapper Vic Mensas recent comments about his own suppressed mental health issues.

Kendrick Lamars Grammy-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly broke down barriers around depression, say experts. Photograph: John Salangsang/Invision/AP

Mental health is something that a lot of people just arent ready to talk about, especially in the black community, especially black men. Its very taboo, its very outside of the norm for black men to think its OK to see a therapist or anything like that, said Mensa recently.

Charles Hamilton, a rapper who emerged to great acclaim in 2009, going on to collaborate with Eminem among others, very publicly unravelled and was later sectioned due to bipolar disorder. Returning to the public eye last year, he too spoke openly about his mental health issues.

I just didnt trust anybody. I didnt leave my house, I just made music all the time. I was fighting depression, I shut myself in, he admitted. I wanted to commit career suicide, physical suicide, spiritual suicide, I didnt care anymore.

Yet for Inkster and Sule, the most significant figure breaking down this stigma around depression and revealing weakness is Kendrick Lamar. Arguably the worlds biggest hip-hop artist, they said Lamars public discussion of the inner demons and survivors guilt that fuelled his Grammy-winning album, To Pimp a Butterfly, have proved that depression is no longer perceived as a fallacy in the rap community.

Back in the early days of hip-hop, that would never happen, they said. Yes, there are still braggadocio lyrics and attitudes but I would say hip-hop has made great strides.

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The Trump-supporting star has cut his tour short after another onstage rant targeting Hillary Clinton and Beyonc

Kanye West has cancelled all remaining dates of his Saint Pablo tour after another onstage rant on Saturday.

According to Pitchfork, a representative for the star confirmed that the 21 remaining concerts would not take place and tickets will be fully refunded at point of purchase.

The news follows West using his Sacramento concert on Saturday to criticize Hillary Clinton, Beyonc and Mark Zuckerberg and performing just three songs before leaving the stage. He also called out radio stations for playing too much Drake and not enough Frank Ocean and added: The Saint Pablo tour is more relevant than radio and if yall keep following old models, your ass is going to be Hillary Clinton.

Earlier in the week, he faced criticism for voicing his support for Donald Trump to a crowd in San Jose and telling black people to stop focusing on racism.

His words have led to a backlash within the entertainment industry. In a series of tweets, the rapper Talib Kweli criticized West for his damaging remarks.

A genius, an icon. U added greatness to my life. But lifting Trump up kills us. Come home, he tweeted. He added: Feelings dont matter. Facts matter.

Rapper Action Bronson also tweeted: Ill be donating a ridiculous amount of NBs and Yeezys to struggling immigrants in NYC.

The reason for the cancellation remains unclear, but a source told TMZ West was just exhausted. Hes been working around the clock on fashion design.

West has yet to address the cancellation on social media but has added almost 100 blurry photos of a fashion spread to his Instagram after he canceled his Los Angeles concert on Sunday.

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At concert in San Jose the rapper who did not vote said he admired the future presidents debating style and that his win would expose racism in America

Kanye West has said he would have voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential elections. Speaking at a concert in San Jose, California, the rapper who has in the past been a vocal supporter of the Democratic party said he did not vote last week but if he had, his allegiance would have been with the Republican representative rather than Hillary Clinton.

Wests statement, which was met with boos from the audience in San Jose, was caught on camera by one Twitter user:

albertoreyes (@albertoreyes)

“I would’ve voted for Trump” – @kanyewest

November 18, 2016

West elaborated throughout the show. He stated that while he admired Trumps debating style saying that it was genius because it worked his true reason for backing the Republican was that his win would inspire racists to reveal themselves. This is the beginning, West said, according to one attendee, adding: Neither candidate would fix racism in this country.

According to reports from the show, West, who has said he will run for president in 2020, also stated that black people should stop focusing on racism. We are in a racist country, he said. Period.

albertoreyes (@albertoreyes)

“To black people, stop focusing on racism. We live in a racist country — that is a fact.” – @kanyewest

November 18, 2016

West, no stranger to a provocative statement, also reportedly said he had been a Trump supporter for a while, but was advised by Justin Biebers manager, Scooter Braun, to conceal this opinion ahead of the election.

A representative for the rapper has not responded to the Guardians request for comment at the time of publication.

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Kanye West, the Weeknd and Bon Iver all owe a large part of their visual identity to the man who shoots their album covers and videos. Now, with a forthcoming movie, hes set his sights on Hollywood

Nabil Elderkin is in his car, cruising along a Los Angeles highway on his way to a camera shop. He needs to buy a flash for the nights Kanye West show; the Saint Pablo tour has come to Forum in Inglewood and, as Wests go-to photographer, Elderkin wants to try something a little different tonight: I kind of want to jump in the crowd and grab some shots from audience level.

Elderkin could probably have had someone else fetch a flash, but hes relentlessly hands-on. Perhaps thats why hes one of the most sought-after and prolific creatives in music and beyond. Working with stars including West, the Weeknd, Bon Iver and Frank Ocean, he has directed acclaimed music videos, taken image-defining still photographs and lent his distinctly raw yet epic visual sensibilities to commercials as well. Some Elderkin projects are created with a shoestring budget; others involve a few more resources. No matter how much or little money is spent, however, his brooding aesthetic remains intact.

He shot the sleeve for the Weeknds current single and forthcoming album both called Starboy, a now ubiquitous comic book-style shot showing him head-in-hands with a fresh haircut. Elderkin also directed Oceans first trio of cerebral, slightly grim music videos. He has lent his visuals to other genres too, making videos for Arctic Monkeys (Whyd You Only Call Me When Youre High), Aohini (her Drone Bomb Me video, which starred Naomi Campbell as a weeping Statue of Liberty) and Nicki Minajs Lookin Ass, a sharply shot, monochrome epic of butts and guns. Even his adverts are great, including a movie-quality Beats by Dre spot featuring LeBron James.

West, however, is his most frequent collaborator he directed the videos for Coldest Winter, Welcome to Heartbreak, Mercy and Paranoid and their partnership goes back 13 years. So how did he and Kanye meet? Ive told it a million times, but Ill tell it again. Shy not?

Its Chicago, 2003. Elderkin and his parents are back in their home city after a long stint living in Australia. An avid music fan and aspiring photographer, Elderkin is obsessed with a mixtape by an obscure Chicago rapper. It was the most refreshing thing I had ever heard, he says. I was instantly blown away by this guy. I wanted to photograph him, so I looked online and there was nothing really about him or any contact email. So I went to and it said you can buy the domain name for like seven bucks. I bought it, thinking at some point Id get a hold of him.

A few weeks later, a rep from Roc-A-Fella Records called him. The label had just signed the fledgling rapper and were looking to buy the web address from someone they assumed was out to fleece them. They were like: How much do you want? I was like: Ive been wanting to get a hold of this guy so I can shoot him. And they said: OK, what do you want compensation-wise? I said: No, you can have the URL. Just let me take his picture.

Impressed by Elderkins initiative, Roc-A-Fella and Wests manager set them up. The subsequent shots became Wests first promotional pictures. Kanye is a guy who takes chances with people a lot, even to this day, he says. If he likes somebody, hell work with you. Its not about a name or an affiliation. He takes chances like that all the time. The shoot launched his career. All relationships came from Kanye. He was the first musician I worked with when I was 21 and everything came from that point.

Elderkin soon expanded his horizons beyond still photography. Ill seize opportunities as they come and dont force or dwell on things, he says. I didnt know I was going to be making music videos when I was a photographer. And when I was doing videos, I didnt know I was going to be doing commercials. Its a completely natural evolution and I try to be that way with everything I do.

Its an attitude Elderkin employed while at a party at John Legends house. Frank Ocean was there. This was back when he was only doing some songwriting for other artists. I remember him saying he wanted to work with me, but I hadnt heard anything. Soon after, he messaged me some early songs on iChat, including Swim Good and Novacane. I was like, holy shit, amazing. Lets do this. With a budget of $5,000, Elderkin directed Oceans video for his debut single, Novacane, which showcased Ocean ruminating in his bedroom in one long tracking shot, an Elderkin staple. Its the song thats important. Im just making a visual that hopefully elevates it and doesnt take away from it. Their professional relationship endures: he recently worked with Ocean on his recent zine, Boys Dont Cry, where he naturally captured West going through a McDonalds drive-thru in a Lamborghini.

Bon Iver is the raddest guy

Its now a week after the Kanye West show, and Elderkin is satisfied with his crowd shots, which may well never see the light of day: 80% of the photos Ive taken of him have never been released, though I think were doing a zine, he notes. Today Elderkin has quite a different assignment: an afternoon at a pool with his nieces.

I have such an untypical day, he says, the sounds of splashing in the distance. Im never in one place, and if Im not working on something, Im thinking of working on something. While he does have some constants avocado toast for breakfast and an early morning trip to the beach to surf, both habits he picked up in Australia a single email from West or the Weeknds team can change what he does for the rest of his afternoon, or week, or month: I cant set up meetings for a week from now because I dont know where Im going to be.

Like the time he went to photograph the Weeknd for a press shoot that turned out to be the central image of his campaign for Starboy. They had some rough concepts on what they wanted stylistically with the colors, so I sent them some references of various different lighting styles and we just shot it. I think Abel liked the images so much he was like: Thats my album cover.

The pictures also became the first that showed the Weeknd without his famous dreadlocks. Cutting his hair, Elderkin chuckles, had nothing to do with me. When I first shot him years ago, he had the hair much closer to where it is now. Obviously the hair became a singular thing, but Im not going to lie I like this look. Thats more of him, to me. Thats how I know him.

Elderkin has the knack of getting on with characters who seem enigmatic to the public. Bon Iver, whom hes directed in two music videos, is the raddest guy. Hes nice and hilarious. Just a real funny guy. I know thats crazy to imagine; you imagine him as a guy in a dark corner somewhere.

Elderkin points to a common thread between the musicians hes worked with. The thing with all these guys Bon Iver, James Blake, Frank, Kanye is that besides from being musically talented theyre open to collaborating. They play instruments, write melodies that are fucking good, and they all show emotion. Emotion is another Elderkin touchstone: it seeps through the screen in many of his projects, whether its West and Travis Scotts video for Piss on Your Grave, an angry anthem belted out in the middle of a picturesque forest, or that Beats by Dre advert with LeBron James which perfectly captures the Kings will to win. The dream of mine is to make something that inspires other people, he muses. For me, thats the greatest thing ever.

Elderkin hasnt confined himself to entertainment: his 2010 documentary Bouncing Cats followed those using breakdancing to rehabilitate children of war, while a series of photographs taken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a joint venture with Oxfam in 2007, was later exhibited at the United Nations.

However, there is one upcoming project he calls one of the most important of his career: directing his first feature film. Called Gully, it is set to begin shooting next year and can best be described as a Clockwork Orange that takes place in South Central Los Angeles. Its a reflection of the disenfranchised youth of America, Elderkin says of the story, which was tweaked with writer Marcus Guillory at the Sundance Film Lab. Weve been working on it for about two years.

The sizzle reel for the film, shopped to producers, portrays a deep sense of foreboding and syncs up perfectly with conversations about race, economics and the plight of the inner cities that dominate todays headlines. As for the plot, Elderkin is mum. Discretion is one of his watchwords another reason he has risen so far in a world endlessly paranoid about leaks. I just dont like to talk about work before its done, he explains. I like the work to speak for itself. I dont make stuff to try to explain it.

Yet despite Elderkins vast body of work, he maintains he has barely scratched the surface when it comes to what he wants to eventually accomplish. Hopefully, theres much more ahead, he explains, ready to stop talking and go back to his nieces and the pool. I want to expand on everything 13 times over. There are so many things I want to do that I havent done. Maybe in 2024 Im gonna go for that presidential run. Kanye has 2020.

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The rapper postpones concerts in Detroit and Philadelphia until December following his wifes robbery at gunpoint in Paris

Kanye West has rescheduled dates on his current tour after his wife, Kim Kardashian West, was robbed in France, citing family concerns for changing two US performances this week.

Kardashian West, the American reality TV star, was in Paris for fashion week when a gang of masked men wearing jackets marked police entered the luxury apartment building where she was staying at 2.30am on Monday.

Three men tied up the receptionist downstairs and stood guard by the door. Two more men went up to Kardashian Wests bedroom where she was lying on her bed. They held a gun to her head, tied her up and escaped with millions of pounds worth of jewellery.

West was on stage at the Meadows music and arts festival in New York when he was told about the robbery and he stopped his performance, leaving the stage halfway through the song Heartless.

The rappers show in Philadelphia on 4 October will now take place on 13 December, and his Detroit show, originally scheduled for 6 October, has been moved to 22 December. The Saint Pablo tour will resume on 7 October in Chicago, and ticket holders for postponed concerts can use their original tickets for the new December dates.

The robbery was the biggest jewellery theft from an individual in France for more than 20 years. Among the items stolen was reportedly Kardashian Wests 3.5m (3m) wedding ring and another 4.5m worth of jewels. It is not clear whether some of the jewels were on loan to Kardashian West or whether she owned them.

Le Parisien has reported that her stylist, who had been hiding in a bedroom during the swift attack, untied her and raised the alarm.

Her personal bodyguard, who had trailed her to all events during fashion week, was not present at her apartment during the attack, French media has reported. That night, Kardashian West had loaned her bodyguard to one of her sisters who was going out to a Paris nightclub, a source close to the investigation told Agence France-Presse.

The fact that the bodyguard was not present when the gang struck has raised speculation in Paris that the thieves had either been trailing and observing Kardashian West extremely closely and took advantage of her lack of security at that moment, or they had been possibly tipped off by somebody close to the stars entourage that he was not there.

The thieves fled on bicycles. They have not been caught and the police investigation continues.

Kardashian map

Johanna Primevert, chief spokeswoman for the Paris police department, said this kind of attack, in which armed robbers posed as police and targeted a private apartment, was very, very rare in Paris. She said the attackers had gone after goods that Kardashian West had shown on social media.

The attack happened at an exclusive, private apartment building known as a No Address site, where celebrities staying in Paris often rent sumptuous suites. The main door to the street is unmarked, giving the guests privacy, but the site was thought to have less security protection than Pariss luxury hotels. The rest of the Kardashian family were staying at a hotel.

Jeanne dHauteserre, mayor of Pariss 8th arrondissement where the robbery took place, told the French TV channel BFMTV that she suspected Kardashian West had either been followed or there had been some kind of tip-off that led to the theft.

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