Here is a key to understanding Kanye West's art: his enormous, famous, gargantuan sense of self is balanced by an equally enormous, less famous, gargantuan willingness to expose his own self doubt. Remember in "Runaway," when he's toasting his own assholish behavior, but over melancholic piano plinking that says more than the words themselves? And then at the hook, he tips his hand, makes his self-loathing explicit? "Run away from me, baby," is his only advice. "Because I'm a terrible monster-person who sort of hates himself" is the unspoken message.
There's a point on the new album that exposes the same. So awesome to call a song "I Am a God." So bold and confident. So "Fuck you and your humility." And I don't think he's being ironic, either. If ever there was an artist confident in his power, in his ability to create worlds, and move people to action, it is Kanye. And the start of the song, again, revels in shamelessly boorish behavoir. "Hurry up with my damn massage!"
But then what's that sound at the end of the song? The screaming—harrowing, desperate, scared. It's like something out of a horror movie. Gasping for breath, the sound of running footsteps. Kanye is the one running now. Away from something that, by the sound of it, is much bigger and more powerful than he is. What's happened here? Nothing celebratory. This is the sound of paying a terrible price. The cost of self-regard? Of blasphemous hubris? —Dave Bry