Kanye West's self-help book is a small, spiral-bound thing, too big for your back pocket but a perfect fit for the coffee table. Its bright yellow, blue, pink and green text is printed on glossy black paper, often in quite large sizes. It's durable, so much so that you could throw it across the room and it would survive the launch unscathed. At times it feels like a children's book.
"Thank You And You're Welcome", published in the spring, was co-authored by J. Sakiya Sandifer, a Grammy-winning hip-hop artist/producer and author of "Think Think Think and Think Again". It features 52 pages of lightweight profundity ("I would rather lose because someone else was right than win when I'm wrong"), playful advice ("Believe in your Flyness…Conquer your Shyness"), emphatic advice ("embrace your flaws!") and semi-provocative questions ("I wonder…Would you rather have 100% from an average person or 10% from someone who is outstanding?"). Many may chuckle at the thought of taking advice from a man who has spent the last month apologising for his boorish behaviour at the MTV Video Music Awards, but the book is not devoid of merit.
West graciously acknowledges that he, like the rest of us, is not perfect. "Although I haven't totally embraced this yet," he writes, "people often say that one of my flaws is arrogance." A playfully self-aware footnote on this page says in tiny pink letters, "Warning! Arrogant people are most often too arrogant to realize their arrogance." Some pages later he concedes, "You can learn more from a critique than from a compliment!"
Like anyone who dishes advice, West's tone is occasionally smug, such as in this passage about his relationship with Common, a Chicago-based rapper:
My innate ability to come up with pop accessible choruses over rugged tracks and [Common's] internationally praised flow became a powerful combination in music. His association with me helped raise his profile, while at the same time helped raise my credibility. Several world tours later, 'Thank You And You're Welcome!'
Pages later, he offers a telling antidote to much of the criticism he's received lately: "When someone is strong enough to believe in something only they believe in, people are going to call them crazy…sometimes crazy is a label that the average put on the exceptional."
"Thank You and You're Welcome" (Super Good LLC) by Kanye West, with J. Sakiya Sandifer. Out now
Picture credit: SOCIALisBETTER (via Flickr)