SPOILER ALERT: Don is a god. Kanye is a god. Also, lots of season six “Mad Men” finale information.
We are our pasts. Whether you are a god or punch god, it’s impossible to escape the past. Kanye West is living in the present. For the first time, Don Draper is living in the present. We are all better off.
It took six solo albums and six seasons of “Mad Men” for a man of god and a fictional character to reach the same conclusions. Since most of us can’t afford to record a sonically ambitious record in a Paris loft or go back in time to be bred into orphan-hood in a Pennsylvania whorehouse, let’s just learn from some highly flawed, captivating characters.
Lesson 1: You can never escape the past. Embrace your past.
Kanye West’s sixth LP, “Yeezus,” ends with “Bound 2.” Musically, it sounds like it could have been on West’s first LP, “The College Dropout.” Lyrically, it could have only been written after five albums of growth, a personal life lived in a huge spotlight and an acceptance of horrible, dirty sex. No one else could make this track. Embrace your past in order to grow. And have horrible, dirty sex.
Season six of “Mad Men” wrapped with a soon to be iconic scene of Dick Whitman showing Don Draper’s kids where he’s from. After exposing his daughter Sally to horrible, dirty sex with very nice women that happen to be not his wife or second-wife, this is one of the last things Dick/Don can do to show whatever remains of his soul. It’s time for Don to recognize Dick.
Lesson 2: I am a god, so punch god in the face, it’ll all work out.
Kanye says he is a god and to hurry up his order of fancy bread. Kanye demands respect and gets laughed at. He is a god.
Don punches a man of god and winds up in a drunk tank. Don punched god. Don is a god.
Lesson 3: Lay off the sauce.
Track 5 of “Yeezus” is the dark, in subject matter and tempo, “Hold My Liquor,” featuring Chief Keef and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. (Please re-read that last sentence and appreciate how great it is that we live in a world where Kanye West, Chief Keef and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver collaborate on a song.) In the song, West raps about being with a partner that accepts him sober or drunk. It’s heartbreaking. Fact Magazine’s Chris Kelly explores Chief Keef’s even more heartbreaking hook:
Amid riveting synths, arena-ready guitar lead, and heartbeat bass, Keef delivers the hook (“I can’t control my niggas / And my niggas they can’t control me”) with more hopeless resignation than a 17-year-old should be able to muster. Kanye clearly sees Keef as a kindred spirit: a Chicago rapper, chewed and digested by the media, and held up as a symbol (or cause) of everything wrong with society (in Keef’s case, Chicago’s wave of youth violence).
Season six of “Mad Men” featured Don Draper throwing up at his friend’s funeral for his mother. Remember that? He can’t handle his liquor.
Don also drank so much he punched god. We already covered that.
Lesson 4: When you’re not sure what to say, pull a B-Rabbit.
On “New Slaves” Kanye explores what it’s like to be young, black and successful. It seems like he can’t win. It seems like he’s exposing all of his apparent flaws. He’s actually showcasing all the experiences that make him stronger. He’s B-Rabbit in the last battle in “8 Mile.”
In Don Draper’s last appearance as an employee of Sterling Cooper & Partners, he gives a hopeful and wholesome image of a Hershey bar uniting his father and himself. Then he takes it all back. He explains his relation to the iconic chocolate. He tells a tale of earning a Hershey bar after he robbed enough from a John in order for a prostitute to buy him the candy. He’s exposing all of his flaws. He’s saying, “Fuck you and your corporation,” like Kanye in “New Slaves,” like Eminem in “8 Mile.”
Lesson 5: Be super rich.
Kanye is super rich so when he says something like, “Put my fist in her like a civil rights sign,” it’s not a big deal. You know who else can get away with this? No one. No one else can get away with this. Kanye can’t even get away with it completely. He’s only OK because he’s super rich.