Kanye WestWe've been hearing a lot about the notion of "visual" musicians lately. Beyoncé called her surprise December album a "visual album," as every song arrived with a corresponding music video. Before her, in 2012, Lady Gaga discussed her album ARTPOP in the following terms: "You [fans] inspired me to create something that communicated with images, because YOU do . . . YOU communicate with me and each other with .gifs and pictures, and artwork, graphics ALL DAY 24/7/YOU'RE an ARTPOP generation." Music videos have re-emerged as major cultural touch points; nearly every Top 40 musician carefully curates an Instagram account; the clothes pop stars are photographed wearing on the street contribute almost as much to their overall image as the actual music.
See more: The Golden Globes' Best Dressed of 2014According to Kanye West, though, this focus on the visual was executed the most effectively by a pop star who's been around for decades: Madonna. In an entertaining, wide-ranging interview with 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen for Interview magazine, Kanye said, "Madonna, I think, is the greatest visual musical artist that we've ever had . . . If you look at her photo log, the photographers that she was able to work with throughout her career framed her in the proper way. It was the proper context. It was that visual that made sure that everything was gonna cut through in a certain way."
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Meanwhile, speaking about his own artistic output, Kanye said he considers his music to be a form of fine art. "I just make sonic paintings, and these sonic paintings have led me to become whatever people think of when you say 'Kanye West.'"
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