John Sciuli/Getty Images; AP Photo
by Marc Malkin | Thu., Nov. 27, 2008 10:05 AM
John Sciuli/Getty Images; AP Photo
"When I said the statement, 'I want to be Elvis,' I really should have thought that out more because that statement was actually really incorrect," West told E! News' Ryan Seacrest Tuesday. "Actually, the true statement was 'I want to be better than Elvis.' "
So does West have what it takes to get anywhere near Elvis' stratosphere? We talked to some industry insiders to find out...
"Kanye is one of the biggest hip-hop stars in the world right now," says Emil Wilbekin, editor-in-chief of urban lifestyle magazine Giant. "But I do believe he has delusions of grandeur."
Wilbekin goes on to say, "I think Kanye is hugely self-absorbed, and I think that he thinks he could be bigger than Elvis. Kanye is very much concerned with how big he could be, how much music he can make and how many awards he could win."
It's that oversize ego that's propelled him to the top of his game, says Hillary Crosley, R&B/hip-hop correspondent for Billboard. "People find it so amusing that he takes it so seriously," Crosley says. "If he didn't have the ego, he wouldn't make it as far as he has."
Cory Cooper, a noted Elvis historian, says he's impressed with West's goals, but he needs a reality check.
"Even though Mr. West has a fantastic idea of what he aspires to become, he nor any other performer, past, present or future will ever accomplish Presley's unparalleled career," Cooper writes in an email. "Elvis stands alone. With all due respect to Mr. West, Elvis Presley is not called 'The King of Rock 'n' Roll' for nothing."
No one argues that West is a not a great musician, but Presley was more than just hit records. He not only crossed over into many genres (pop, rock, gospel, country), but he was also a true movie star. "He definitely needs to get himself outside of the hip-hop world in order to be spoken of in the same terms of Elvis," says Chuck Arnold, music critic for People. "I think that's what he's starting to do with singing—well, what you would call singing with the help of technology."
Wilbekin agrees. "Elvis had gospel and country music behind him and Hollywood behind him," he says. "Kanye just has hip-hop right now.
"He hasn't really done acting, aside from Saturday Night Live."
West did have a Hollywood project in the works. He was developing a Curb Your Enthusiasm-like series for HBO. However, it's reportedly been shelved. "I think it was too hard-core for HBO," writer and producer Larry Charles told ComingSoon.net early last month.
Billboard's Crosley says with a laugh, "Maybe he's secretly taking acting lessons."
We could hear Kanye now: "I want to be the next Marlon Brando."
Or as Los Angeles Times pop critic Ann Powers says, West should just be, well, West: "Kanye is excellent at being himself," she says, "and he is unique, so maybe he should be happy with that."
—Additional reporting by Dahvi Shira
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