OMG. Are you watching this? Are you seeing this magic? Are you not loving it? OK. I am not going to peer pressure you into liking anything because I will never understand the appeal of Vampire Weekend even though they are supposed to be good. However, these two new Kanye songs are the shit. Like, Kanye is a total egomaniac and I would not want to be in the same room with him (a lot of talented people are) but good gracious these songs are magnificent.
I am having heart palpitations over here! A lot of you may be put off by it or unsure how to talk about it because Kanye is singing about race and the cultural perception of people of color. No one can tell you how to think or how to feel about that kind of thing but like most college exercises I would ask you think about Kanye’s lyrics in two ways. First accept them as completely valid: What’s he saying that’s true? Then think about them as invalid: What is he getting wrong? There, now you have an opinion that is pretty valid. Right? I guess. I hope so.
Anyway, “Black Skinhead” samples Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” which I love. Both of the new songs are dystopian, sinister and aggressive. Typically, these are traits I like in music but some people stray away from. For me, Kanye is an incredibly smart person who has a pretty objective and accurate perception of culture and history despite being a completely entitled narcissist. A discussion of race, which has been a consistent thread throughout his music, will surely be controversial but will have arguments made with substance, complexity and ones that bring the cultural zeitgeist to light.
One thing that is remarkably interesting about Kanye’s development as an artist is the battle between his ego and his desire to elevate people of color through music and fame. These things are typically inaccessible to marginalized groups of people and are often used to alienate them from culture. Kanye is trying to do something good in a model that is inherently oppressive to the people he wants to help but the broken system is what allows him to have the power to spark change. Also, he is an asshole. So how does one destroy the system when they are a part of it? I don’t know but those are the kinds of questions I ask myself when I listen to Kanye.
The new album has been revealed to be called ‘Yeezus.’ At first I hated it. I wanted something stronger like, “I Am God.” Not because I think Yeezy is God but because believing that you are God or in absolute control of your destiny is a powerful idea. Now that I think about it ‘Yeezus’ is more appropriate: Kanye perceives himself as a martyr but he also knows that he is, at the end of the day, just a rapper. The title plays on his persona in popular culture and on this idea that he is some sort of savior.
Here are the lyrics to ‘Black Skinhead’ Kanye released.
Here’s the cover that Kim tweeted.