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The music world is doing a double-take at rapper Kanye West's invocation of poet Maya Angelou a few days ago on his blog. "We will follow in the footsteps of Maya Angelou, Gill Scott, Herron and Nina Simone," he prophesied. "Their work improved with time. They documented what was happening in culture. That is our responsibility as the modern day artists and poets," he continues, talking about "truth and sincerity in a world of processed information."

While many are mocking the idea that Kanye will follow in Angelou's footsteps, their work does share some superficially similar subject matter. Here's Kanye's Gold Digger:

Now I ain't sayin' you a gold digger, you got needs
You want a dude to smoke, but he can't buy weed
You go out to eat, can't pay, y'all can't leave
There's dishes in the back, he gotta roll up his sleeves
But while y'all washin', watch him
He gon' make it to a Benz out of that Datsun
He got that ambition, baby look in his eyes

This week he's moppin' floors, next week it's the fries
So, stick by his side

And here, an excerpt from Maya Angelou's poem Alone:

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Could Kanye pull it off?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.