Top 10 Similarities Between Kanye West and Morrissey

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A big ego craves a lot of attention.  While egos exist in small forums, like a Youtube comment section or the seating area of a fast food restaurant, they often go unchecked and run rampant in the arts.  There needs not be a matching level of talent or accomplishment to warrant an ego, as most egos are never properly earned.  A fine example?  Any mainstream rapper.  Being an inner city poet laureate isn’t much of an accomplishment, and using sloppy rhyme schemes or phallic metaphors isn’t very artful.

Nonetheless, it seems to be enough of a skill to warrant critical praise from predominately lofty white music critics who view such talents as groundbreaking.  Mostly they just want to get on board the relevance express and follow the direction of the mainstream industry (i.e. downhill).  It’s no wonder that when a certain rapper comes along and varies the formula a little, and only lyrically, he is worshipped like an urban-outfitted god, and offered bloody sacrifices accordingly.  Kanye West is the man of subject here.  Upon arrival, he offered sensitivity alongside his ego and reeled in the accolades, words like “genius” and “concept album” being thrown around carelessly like a decapitated head in a game of Halloween volleyball.

While his words account for a tasteless, shallow fan base, no one takes note of the fact that his beats and hackneyed skyrocket-pitched-and-distinctly-oriental-sounding vocal dubs are nothing new within the Pro-tools-dependant music community; often times he simply and shamelessly steals, or samples rather, other people’s works entirely (e.g. Daft Punk, on two occasions).  Beyond lyrical content, thusly, he offers very little.  Which is why Kanye West is really no different from any frontman-turned-solo artist whose uncooperative ego becomes too big for his band of origin.  In fact, he relates particularly closely to UK’s most self-absorbed export, ex-Smiths frontman Morrissey.

Failing to see the connection?  Then take a look at these top 10 ways Kanye West and Morrissey are exactly the same:

(Warning: devoted Kanye fans and die-hard rap enthusiasts may find this list to be very unsettling, even blasphemous.  This is your last chance to stop reading if even a scintilla of musical criticism is able to completely ruin your day.)

10. Lack of Street Cred

He had the luxury of a posh, middle-class upbringing.

Image result for kanye west style

Growing up without having to face the street-life hardships, and criminal records, that most within the genre are so vocal about, Kanye West has nothing intrinsically in common with most of his rapping peers and predecessors and certainly had no need for a hardened exterior.  His mom was an English professor, and he even spent a year at Chicago State University.  A privileged, functionally-literate background and highly-padded interpretation of the world enabled him the opportunity to whine about petty, matter-of-life grievances as well as describe the world from a non-persecuted lens.

In the Smiths song “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” Morrissey sings “I was looking for a job and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.”  If the fluttering melody weren’t so lush and distracting, you might even hear the silver spoon clacking against his teeth.

9.  More Tone Deaf than Def Jam

He only has his words, despite his voice.

If auto-tune indicates anything, it’s that Kanye can’t rely on his own vocal chords to carry a melody.  While Morrissey didn’t have the luxury of such technology, he never attempted to hide his lack of tonality; he was all the more endearing for it, as it was suitable enough of a bellow to deliver his meaning-rich words.  In either case, however, words are great on paper as literature, but are only that when the music suffers as much as the lyricist.

8.  Lack of Melody

He offers little substance without a backing band.

Image result for kanye west singing

Like Morrissey without Johnny Marr and the rest of the Smiths’s added instrumental dynamics, you are listening to little more than Def Poetry Jam when all musical emphasis is given to rhythm and percussion.  The music should instill an effect separate from the words yet in a way that drives the power in their meaning home; the melodic content should add a heavier elbow to the lyrical stake placed immediately over the heart of the listener.  This is not accomplished when melody is absent or just not very contentious.

7.  A One-Man Show

Image result for morrissey

Morrissey has achieved a level of vanity to where he can rely on the recognizability of his surname, making “Steven Patrick” a redundant preface.  Even if he has a nameless backing band supplying the dank, drippy synth undercurrents to his furrowed eye-brows, it’s his name staining marquees and squatting over the album art.  Similarly, Kanye, though never on stage alone, takes 100% of the credit for his material, even if he does habitually samples other artists’ work and rely on preprogrammed loops.  Calling an album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a bit presumptuous, calling such a bombastically-named fantasy completely his.

6. Inconsiderate

He is frequently inconsiderate, the result of a boundless ego.

Image result for kanye and taylor incident

The product of ceaseless encouragement, Kanye, in his confused idea of how the world operates, has shown that he thinks that being an audience member is a participatory role, one that transcends simple applause and laughter.  As if award shows are interactive and openly invite show-stealing feedback, he voiced his dissatisfaction, mid-acceptance speech no less, for what he saw as an unconscionable decision.  While his argument did little to change the mind of the MTV decision-makers, it revealed a man who either thinks that kind of behavior is acceptable and that nothing he does has any consequences, or else a man who had a little too much to drink.  Morrissey has performed similar alienating acts, little surprise being one prone to frequent alienation:  in one reported instance, he abandoned an autograph session over a mild cheese sandwich craving, much to the dismay of a herd of devoted disciples who expressed their disappointment as passive-aggressively as possible.


5.  Shoe Gazer

He offers sensitivity in a genre typified by toughness and hard exteriors.

Image result for kanye west louis vuitton

An album like 808’s and Heartbreak reveals Kanye’s frequent feelings of shoe-gazing vulnerability, in spite of his self-defense mechanism of an ego, whereas an album title like Get Rich or Die Trying epitomizes rap’s do-or-die, often violence-prone mentality, what with the gun sound effects taking the place of a high-hat, or any proper form of percussion.  Morrissey had a more punk-oriented musical upbringing, and the Smiths are a definitive punk band, though Morrissey’s androgenous moans and sentimental nature is not typical of the kind of punk rock surrounding the Smiths or that which they grew up on.  Morrissey’s darling New York Dolls displayed crude sounds to match their attitudes, even if discontentment was a common undertone.  It’s the idea of appreciating an aesthetic from afar, though at the same time reflecting internal conflict.

4.  Shared Vision

He shops at the same glasses store.

Image result for kanye west glasses

Buddy Holly’s trademark thick-framed glasses has seen itself appear on the faces of many dissonant artists, and plenty who feign to appreciate the past; while Morrissey truly was inspired by early rock and roll sounds (which includes those of “wall-of-sound”-wizard Phil Spector’s glittery girl groups) and was knowledgeable of a progressive and expansive musical timeline, Kanye sees about as far back as rap’s earliest days.  After all, rap is a very incestuous genre, constantly digging into and building off of itself.  Accordingly, he only sees the very superficial appeal of wearing such glasses (Jay-Z wears them), and sets no trends new and unused.  He samples eyewear like he does beats:  without a rightful prescription.  Call that ironic myopia.  Thanks to him, any given moron at a college party finds it okay to randomly accessorize themselves with a clear-lensed pair.

3.  Insta-Genius

He wants to be perceived as an intellectual.

Image result for kanye west intellectual

All it takes are big glasses, mildly introspective lyrics, and operatic rap pretensions to be considered a thoughtful genius.  There is hardly any brilliance in an entirely plastic art form, just a man proud of his Lego creation (even if it did come with a set of step-by-step instructions).  Morrissey at least supplied a level of depth with his ideas, supplying literary allusions on occasion, enough to where his intellect was validated by his substance.  Kanye’s lyrics are frequently steeped in the concept of fame and his cultural self-awareness.  To which you want to say, “Keep that to yourself man, and write about things bigger than yourself.”

2.  Inspiring (Unfortunately)

He inspired the next wave of terrible saddoes.

Image result for kanye west inspiring

Saint Morrissey by ~ivyascending on deviantART

I suppose we have Morrissey to blame for a good part of the emo genre.  Those who appreciate him for his post-Smiths material are definitely prone to frequent superficial decisions (here we observe the lionization of the front man’s simple role: to carry the band’s image).  As such, all topical notions of depression, misery, and rejection follow suit, not to mention the appeal for uniform stylishness, slim fit tees, girl’s jeans, and side-swept hair being the common accoutrements.  Thusly it is no coincidence that you can only find a Morrissey tee-shirt at Hot Topic when you’d really prefer a Smiths one.  Kanye, to a lesser extent, opened the door to a new wave of “sad rappers” like Kid Cudi (who also wears the insta-genius glasses) and Drake, who both have found a way into the rap game in spite of being so utterly fortunate (Drake was formerly an actor on the Canadian preteen soap opera Degrassi).

1.  Image is Everything

He is a ubiquitous caricature, his image superseding whatever actually appears on a given album.

Image result for kanye west stupid

The name is immediately recognized across the board, even without ever having heard a single track; this is true of both.  Morrissey is the portrait of a pompadour-haired narcissist and jaded human being, one that enjoys flaunting ostentatious jewelry and chest hair.  And if you haven’t been exposed at dangerously toxic levels to a Kanye West song through a movie trailer, SNL performance, or mainstream radio station, you will find that going out and looking into any given album will unsurprisingly fail to meet all the shoveled out hype.  More like shovels of something else…  And I ain’t talkin bout no gold digga’.


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25 Comments

  1. this list was pretty interesting, cool similarities and all. Gotta disagree with your opinion on the rap genre though

  2. this list is ridiculous and pathetic, sorry i’m sure others will appreciate your effor but I certainly didn’t.

  3. Great list, these two (among others) are the douchebags of music industry

  4. I think there are a few cool similarities but the majority of this is just demonstrates personal cynicism for both artists. Yes artists can be extremely douchie but most famous people are, it usually demonstrates a hunger and a passion for their. Kanye’s latest album is a fantastic mix of the poetic and well produced beats, you mention sampling but sampling is an art in itself, kinda like the ‘montage’ of the music world.

    • Ryan Thomas (author of this list) on

      A ‘montage’ is not art, it’s just pastiche, bits of others works rearranged and attributed with complete ownership. In ‘sampling,’ nothing is created, just edited or revised. Art is about creation.

      • Not at all, Montage is the creation of new meaning through the recycling of work. Some of the most influential filmmakers including Sergie Eisenstien and Arthur Lipsett were renowned for their use of montage making powerful statements about the world. Not to mention the effect montage has had on the mainstream film industry, does mainstream cinema use montage with the same conviction, no. But almost every major film trend can be traced back to trendsetters like Eisenstien and Lipsett. There is a striking similarity between the old school filmmakers and emergence hip-hop as a musical genre, both use recycling as method of re-birth and both have been massively influential. In regards to hip-hop the story is even more remarkable in my opinion as these poor inner city kids made do with what they had and took the world by storm.

      • Jason Sanders on

        I’m willing to bet you’ve never listened to a Kanye West album. This list is a pathetic attempt for you to justify disliking someone you don’t know. Furthermore, if sampling was so easy, why hasn’t anyone been able to arrange the beats as well as Kanye before? It would help if you’d stick to things you actually knew about. If you really appreciated talent, you would have applauded his interruption of that farce of an award to Taylor Swift

  5. You got all defensive Ryan and Luke wasn’t being nasty. It was pretty well said., without having a personal stab. You have come away from this looking like a douche. Owned I think is the term the kids are using these days..

  6. Calling an entire genre you clearly know nothing about ‘plastic’ and completely denouncing the art of sampling goes beyond “a scintilla of musical criticism.” That’s just exposing yourself as a closed-minded fool.

    How you fail to perceive melody in Kanye’s music is beyond me…

  7. I have to disagree with most of the list. While rap is not a largely varied flavor you forget that Kenya is not rap, he is hip hop. This list also seems less like a comparison and more like a list built to give pardon to any douchey tendencies Morrisey may have while slicing into Kanye. It’s an unfair portrayal-both are geniuses in their own right, but there is a clear connection between people who are geniuses and those who have the biggest, douchiest egos.

  8. This is one of the greatest lists ever written! Way to go, Ryan! Your research skills and ability to examine topics with an unbiased opinion are stellar! Take a bow, you deserve it!

  9. This is a pathetic list. Kanye is much more diverse than you mention. Kanye wears a million different type of sunglasses. Kanye raps about a lot more then just sensitive things. He has rapped about so many things, so if there comes a new artist that touches that theme, what, is their musical style entirely inspired by Kanye? He has MANY songs without auto-tune. He has been inconsiderate, doesn’t mean he IS inconsiderate full stop.

  10. It’s amazing how many people can’t take criticism for something they don’t even do…
    Hip-hop and rap?? Same thing….you might argue about subtle differences, but doesn’t change that fact…Granted I don’t listen to hiphop/rap….but I do listen to Metal, and almost every 2 weeks there seems to be a new genre (ie. Speed metal, death metal, black metal, thrash metal, Djent metal, stoner metal) but it’s still all the same, people just want to be in a different genre so they can be considered “original”…
    And Why doesn’t West sample any Led Zeppelin or Queen songs…?? oh wait, those were talented groups that put time and effort into writing their songs and they don’t want chumps taking there stuff and ruining the image the band developed…
    Any true artist would rather make his/her own art, not just “reinvent” somebody elses…

    • One of the first kanye songs I heard was a queen sample, we are the champions…so face

      And kanye produced jay z blueprint, a multi platinum album considered an instant hip hop classic…this before he was a rapper…kanye makes good music, and shitty music…if u don’t like him, attack strictly his character flaws, which he has plenty…but to discredit his contributions to rap or hip hop, is kind of offensive…my genre of music is just as creative and talented as youes

  11. Sorry, Ryan, can’t give you many kudos on this one. I suspect you had valid points to make and you came close, but you just didn’t quite organize it well enough to make the comparisons clear. It seems like you mostly just wanted to dis Kanye anyway, and you did that pretty good. And Kanye obviously deserves it as some of his behavior has been disgusting.

  12. No. The comparisons are completely superficial, there’s nothing relevant to compare about the two. You missed what is probably the biggest difference between them: Morrissey, despite being an egocentric idiot, is a legend, The Smiths are one of the most influential rock bands of all times, without it there probably wouldn’t be such a thing as brit pop. I’m more into Johny Marr’s stuff, though, he was really the brain of the band.
    Kanye, on the other hand, has yet to endure the test of time.
    This list is a waste of time.

  13. Some points, namely the “wants to be perceived as an intellectual” one, were very vaild, but I’m going to have to disagree with most of this list. Morrissey writes melodies that are absolutely gorgeous, and he is anything but tone deaf. It seems to me that the author pulled some of these “similarities” out of thin air.

  14. i can not believe anyone in their right minds would compare a vapid buffoon like Kanye West to Morrissey. you ought to be ashamed of yourself. it’s absolutely preposterous to think a stupid rapper has a single thing in common with a lyrical genius like Morrissey. Morrissey may be a little conceited, but he has a right to be. Kayne West does not. in fact, it’s fitting that he’s dating Kim Trash-dashian, she’s the only person who’s possibly a bigger joke than he is. don’t compare real talent to someone as useless and vile as Kanye West. ever again. it’s disgusting.

  15. Ignorant as hell.. hahaha, Graduation,College Dropout, he has a reason to have such a big ego. Listen carefully before you judge.

  16. Lol at this ‘critique’ of Kanye’s music and style. I know it must suck that he hasn’t had his fifteen minutes of fame and died out like the majority of artists which is what you’re normally used to right?

    10.) He grew up in the slums of Chicago and after taking a year of college decided that life wasn’t for him and wanted to pursue his passion in producing and eventually rapping. Not sure how or why you would downplay a bold act like that for someone who has succeeded far and beyond. He constantly raps about Chicago’s terrible state and how it needs to be improved upon.

    9.) He used autotune on one album, and an R&B themed one at that, and for a very select few songs after that. Kanye has expressed multiple times that he can’t sing well and has said Autotune is a super fun tool to use. Why do you care if he uses it as long as it sounds good?

    8.) There is literally no backing to this logic. Kanye is one of hip-hop’s most critically acclaimed producers, let alone full-blown artist/rapper. You clearly have listened to literally close to none of his music if you honestly think this. There’s a reason pretty much every album of his is well-received. He is the one who essentially crafts the combinations of multiple people’s work which requires a ridiculous amount of talent and a good ear for not just hip hop but ALL music.

    7.) Not sure why you hate on sampling so much? If it’s so easy please give it a shot and let me know how it works. Also, keep in mind pretty much all music has a beat that ‘loops,’ whether it be drums and guitars of a rock band or hip-hop samples or EDM.

    6.) Ah, the most common reason to hate Kanye. People know of all the incidents he does, but the message behind why he performs these acts is considerably bold. But you’d never wanna listen to him explain that in an interview right? If you have any notion of ‘good’ music, you would know these popular award shows (VMA’s, Grammy’s, etc) are about quantity and not quality. Whatever has dumfounded and numbed the minds of the general public and becomes history within two weeks tends to receive the most praise, whereas bold and unique attempts at creating timeless music are left in the dust. Please do some research and learn WHY Kanye performs these outbursts instead of just taking them at face value.

    5.) Not even sure what you’re trying to say here. 808’s was released during the time that his mother died AND when he broke up with his fiance AND when he received tons of negative publicity for the Taylor Swift incident. Do you seriously think someone of that celebrity status can put out blaring trumpet-based anthems like Graduation again? Kanye instead of being ‘fake’ and putting out happy cocky music again took, once again, a bold route and wanted to be different. This album ended up changing the course of what ‘cool’ hip hop was like in the future (Ex. Drake, Childish Gambino, B.O.B.)

    4.) See ‘shutter shades’

    3.) If any celebrity can be as big and as popular at their peak for more than a decade, I think it’s safe to say they’re pretty smart and know what they’re doing. Kanye is a marketing genius, and showcases his new material in ways that make people focus because it’s not a traditional “radio single” or “music video.” Why don’t you take a look at how Watch the Throne was released to the public, or how Kanye premiered New Slaves to the public, or look up the Runaway film, or look up the Cruel Summer film.

    2.) So you hate Kanye when he’s being an egotistical douchebag, but it’s ‘unfortunate’ when he brings out the soft, apologetic side of his?

    1.) So you pretty much just confirmed everybody wants him on their work and likes his stuff…except you? Who’s in the minority really?