Kanye West is a M&^%$# F&@**+#$ Monster!

It’s hard for me objective about Kanye West.  If you’ve ever had the rap conversation with me you know I borderline stan for Yeezy. Yes, he’s pompus, arrogant, obnoxious, blah, blah, blah. He’s also an artistic genius and his work backs up his considerably high boasting. You can’t expect a humble man to produce work or lyrics of Yeezy’s caliber.

But even I, arguably Kanye’s biggest fan, had to pause after watching the leaked and incomplete version of the “Monster” video. The “dark”-ness of the video, the implied necrophilia, the body parts, etc. didn’t bother me as I’m also a die-hard True Blood fan too. The more guts, blood, and gore the better. But frankly, the video isn’t as great as the trailer, leaked in November, suggested. In a 20 second snippet, it’s a hot concept.  As a full- length video, it just went on too long. *yawn*

That said, I don’t accept anything Kanye does at face value. He’s an artist, a great one. So when I saw the lifeless white women hanging from the ceiling and all the dead white bodies laying around, almost immediately, I got that it was an anti-thesis to what happens in most videos with over-hyped Black women gyrating enthusiastically. The excessive use of dead white women? Totally got that it was a clap back on the Taylor Swift “scandal” and white America’s overreaction to that whole debacle.  West is pretty obviously showing all the folks who made him out to be a monster for his asshole-esque interruption of Taylor Swift, what a real monster is.

There are those who would say I’m giving Yeezie too much credit.  Gina over on What About Our Daughters is one of them (typical.)  In “Kanye West Lynches Women in Latest Video- A Desperate and Sick Display” she writes:

[Kanye] is a man in crisis. He’s in a death spiral at the end of which somebody is going to end up dead. Most likely a woman. This isn’t “art” these are the public musings of a sociopath and y’all are too intoxicated by the cult of celebrity to realize it. 

Sometimes art is art and sometimes art is a public expression of a sociopath’s inner thoughts and a signal to RUN not walk in the opposite direction.

She also compared the women hanging from the ceiling as being “lynched.” I’d argue it was a verbal metaphor on the way West was verbally lynched during the Taylor Swift reaction. Like you hung me, now I hang you.

Gina tends to be extreme. So I looked for other reactions to the video, stumbling upon The Modern Shift by Gerren K. Gaynor (a Morehouse senior who will guest blog tomorrow, offering an insider’s perspective on the aftermath of the VIBE story about cross-dressing gay men at the historic institution)

Kanye’s apparentintent [is] to objectify white women. He chillingly uses these women as objects, ready to be used at his disposal; for sexual approbation and/or home decor.

The message it does present is an image of the black male that most racist whites perceived during the slavery era: a hazard to the white woman. Black men are were feared simply for being ‘big’ and ‘black’, two irrational cues for a threat to society. Kanye does the same (whether he intended to or not) in this over-the-top video

Over on The Atlantic, veteran writer Ta-Nehisi Coates didn’t tackle the “Monster” video specifically in “On White She-Devils” but he did tackle what he found to be an overwhelming use of racism on My Dark Twisted Fantasy, which includes “Monster”:

I’m a little amazed that no one’s disturbed by “Champagne wishes/30 white bitches” as a hook. I’m more amazed at his empty employment of white women as objects.

…The problem isn’t simply racism or sexism, but boring racism, boring sexism that hearkens back to the black power macho of Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver at their worst. … This is an aggressively external album obsessed with dismissing haters, slut-shaming women (black and white…

I can’t bear to re-hash Soul On Ice* over some (admittedly dope) beats. More likely, I’m tired of rappers who deploy slut-shame to smoke-screen their near total fear of pussy…There’s something hard about submission, and something really weak in Kanye’s fear of losing control…

Coates assessment about Ye’s “fear of pussy” in his lyrics ties in  too conveniently when applied to the visual imagery that accompanies them. Say for instance, that the vaginas of the women in the “Monster” video are dead like their owners, and thus, easily controlled, no submission necessary.

I’m sure we can all agree that “Monster” sends a message, but what exactly is it? Is this a bad video with small moments of brilliant personal commentary on the West backlash after the MTV upset (my take)? Or is this a vile display of racism and reckless misogyny set to a tight beat (everybody else’s)?

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20 responses to “Kanye West is a M&^%$# F&@**+#$ Monster!

  1. I thought this was worthwhile from the Modern Shift…

    We need to stop giving Kanye a “get out of jail free” card whenever he pushes the limits too far. Yes he is a fashion trendsetter and has an impeccable musical catalog, but it does not have precedence over his irrational behavior. Kanye and all black musical artists should be held accountable when art imitates more than life. >> Their art places an irremovable stain on the black identity. << We need to be doing more to move away from race and inferiority and more on the human condition and how we all have something positive to contribute to it.

    ……

    In the 21st century, hip-hop has to stray away from themes of violence, sexism and all things damaging to the black race (unless it leads to affirmative outcomes). It's not appealing to habitually paint a picture of social conflicts if the artist doesn't attempt to find avenues of resolution. It's okay for hip-hop to depict realities truthfully but it must also enlist identifiable answers.

  2. In my opinion, there is a fine line between crazy, and just out of his mind. I think the whole time he was gone, making the dark twisted fantasy, the runaway movie, and the other drunk taking his guts out short film visual… he was definitely on drugs (literally) accompanied with dealing with the Talyor Swift inncident AND his moms absense.. So, all these affects we were reflected in his music.

    UNDERSTAND, music is a reflection or story of yourself of that particular time. Most GENUISES made they’re best music when they were high off their ass: Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, James Brown. Kanye is no acception. So, the imagery of his music and video is partially the frustration of media lynching, absence of his moms, and just plain wanting to do something over the top cause he’s high as shit. Perfect storm for genius music!

    **SIDE BAR————-> i love your blog LS you GO GIRL!!

  3. I applaud the blog, very well wriiten and showed me that I am not that deep. After you said it, I realized ok I can go deep once I start digging but that’s beside the point. With all of the dark violent creepy bloody etc.. media out on display, I can’t at all agree with anyone if they say anything other than, man that’s one scary ass video. It’s scary and if I watch it too much, it will give me bad dreams but at least I will be bobbing my head. With that said, I can see another reaction being ‘this as a horrible excuse for a song but got a beat I can groove to’. It’s art in its truest form, Yeezy is a genius and its sad that the package is like this video, scary to watch but hard to avoid because it’s damn good entertainment.

  4. Why is Kanye considered original or creative or an artistic genius? Doesn’t it become a bit too deliberate when someone keeps banging you over the head with obvious subtext? Would any of us have reflected upon the “4,3,2,1” video by LL Cool J like this? Or do we infer that there not only is a deeper meaning but it is effectively being communicated because Kanye told us that he’s that type of dude and he’s black? As much as I appreciate him as a producer, the man is not an artistic genius. Stevie Wonder is a genius. Prince is a genius. MJ was a genius. Oh lets stop calling R. Kelly a genius as well. Mashing up recycled pop images is not creative or original, particularly when your finished product has been seen elsewhere. Sampling soul records is not an act of musical genius. If it were, 9th Wonder would be the master of the universe. What he is is a Jack of All Trades master of none. Don’t make him into something you want him to be.

  5. @ leeward

    I will respectfully disagree.

    Just like Hype Williams is a genius Yeezy has an incredibly eye for beauty and manages to put images together amazingly well…this vid wasn’t meant to be “deep’ he was trying to hit u over the head with the Monster images – there is nothing subtle about Kanye. Nothing. Which is why it works so well.

    He’s unapologetically narcissistic and backs it up every time. The POWER vid was cool as **ish.

    He is misogynistic – always has been – you can add colorstruck to that list – and been more willing to say very blunt things regarding race then many other rappers – and takes all that and wraps it up in an impeccable package – the man is a genius.

  6. @leeward, part 1. All of the artists you mentioned had ever-changing and ever-challenging musical styles; they wrote, produced, and performed in a way that no artist had before and allowed (black) music and black culture to reach new, mainstream heights. Kanye West’s contributions accomplish the same thing, so, by definition- musical genius. #2. he’s not banging us over the head. This “Oh, you’re calling me a monster? I’ll show you a monster!” motif is one of the central themes of his album, he’s not gonna go change the message halfway through.

    and C. as far as the video goes, it was kinda lengthy/boring to me too. But, his biggest critics (white Americans) are the ones who he chooses to objectify, hang, or otherwise treat in the same way blacks, and Kanye specifically, have been treated in the past. Kanye has pushed the envelope yet again and despite what the critics say, he’s winning, because here we are discussing more of his artwork…AGAIN. That’s why he’s gonna continue to be referred to by his TRUE fans, and will eventually be recognized by all, as the musical genius that he is.

    “Everybody feel a way about K, but at least y’all feel somethin'”

  7. First off @ CamronZoe – thanks for the topic…your blogs are great KUDOS to you..
    Secondly – I can’t wait to hear more about the men of your life, you sound as if you have a great social life. Charlotte North Carolina seems to be a bigger city than I realized.

    NEXT

    @ Don Q’

    We definitely disagree. Hype Williams is a genius? Why? Because he shoots all his videos in a widescreen letterbox format and splits the images up on screen for the same shot. Or are are you talking about the use of the letterbox in white or black with a central splash of bright color to illuminate the shot. He does that in damn near every video which essentially diminishes the effect. Directors have been doing stuff like that since the 1960s well before him. Hype Williams is a one trick pony in my opinion. That’s why less than half the scenes in “Belly” had a transition. If Hype Williiams is a genius what is Robert Townsend?

    We need to reel in the accolades we bestow upon people because you give them very little room for improvement. As far as visuals go, he does not direct the videos nor does he solely come up with the ideas. Marco Brambilla came up with the concept for the “Power” video. The song itself is made up of samples. The man loves to try and impress white people and those he perceives to be elite, not thumb his nose at them. And as far as the Monster video goes, rock bands have been making videos like that for the last 15-20 years. Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, goth bands, death metal bands, etc. Its nothing new. The images from that video come from about 3 or 4 vampire movies. Tell the man to at least credit his source material. The visual ideas from the Monster video were not only Kanye’s ideas, a good percentage come from the director Jake Nava, who also directed Single Ladies for Beyonce. So people slow down before you anoint him.

    @ Nyayanna

    I humbly disagree. Stevie wonder is no more of a genius than Miles Davis or Thelonious Monk. Same goes for Prince. But they are genius’. Kanye is not. Kanye West is not an innovative producer of music. Rza, Timbaland and The Neptunes far outpace him in that category. Rza changed the sound of hip hop with Wu-Tang, and lets not forget that he scored Kill Bill. Timbaland literally changed the sound of hip hop in the mid-late 90s. The Neptunes literally changed the sound of hip hop and its culture in the early part of the decade. All that skater stuff. All that $500 denim stuff. All that name dropping avant garde european designers and artists starts with one Pharell Williams. The difference is one is not a media whore and the other is. The man is a sometimes good punchline rapper who has improved significantly but in no way can he be said to be amongst the top ten all time. So what actually makes him a genius? I know, he knows to manipulate the media.

    How does he push black music forward? Explain how he actually does this? Name something he has done musically that no one before him has done? His drum patterns come directly from songs in Indie rock

  8. Cosign Leeward

    But I gotta disagree with you on R Kelly. I applaud R for his versatility and range. Who else today can make spiritual feel good anthems, a slow jam classics, stepping music, club bangers, do each repeatedly, well, and evolve over a 20 year run in the industry? Only someone with talent, craft, passion, who has an impeccable ear for what people deem good music. And YES, I know the brotha has some deep seated issues…

    As for Kanye, being complicated and layered with issues does *not* in itself make one a musical genius. Sure many great artists draw from these places but sadly, these days when people talk of Kanye’s ‘genius’ and his artistry it ultimately leads back to his behavior, his personality, the controversy surrounding him, but strangely not the quality, depth, or craft of his music.

    Is he talented, creative, intelligent, compelling…yes. What successful artist isn’t at some level? Is his timing impeccable? Very. His transparency and inner contradiction match young people’s experience and values. All your life out there online, unfiltered. We want to work for big firms and stand for human rights at the same time. Kanye also gave the beta male a place to shine when the alpha-gangster image had already worn thin. In a sense I’d say he’s a sort of icon, but not a musical genius. It’s ironic that he made his start *sampling* the music of actual geniuses…

    Heresy, I know…to each their own.

    About the video – I just found it disturbing. I get the commentary on the Taylor Swift controversy but I think Nyayanna has a point about our artists relying on so much negative imagery to express their ideas. Kanye actually is one artist who could shift it in other directions…he definitely has everyone’s attention.

  9. Sigh.

    The ol’ if you sample a song you can’t be a “genius” argument – lol. Okay. All rappers sample. Everyone ain’t Kanye.

    leeward,

    Just b/c someone has done it before doesn’t mean someone can’t come along and do it better or differently. So that argument falls flat. Michael Jackson didn’t direct Thriller on his own or solely come up with the idea – but you gonna tell me that it ain’t a genius vid? MJ didn’t write/prouce all his own music either and most of his early vids were directed by someone else. You gonna tell me he ain’t a genius?

    Because you collaborate doesn’t mean you take away from the artists own contributions – and Kanye is anal retentive there isn’t a vid/song that comes out that doesn’t have him in it.

    Monster isn’t my fav vid by him. It’s like True Blood redux BUT it fits with the song – perfectly – he just wanted to show you what a REAL monster looked like – and chose from a long list of recognizable images – that was the point.

    Close encounter of a Third Kind and E.T. are EXCELLENT moves, but how many times have we seen alien movies? You want Spielberg to credit his source material too?

  10. Spielberg has consistently given credit to his sources of inspiration for his movies. And I never called him a genius. Unlike old school alien movies his movies were used as templates to communicate a longing for childhood, etc. So no his movies are different. He is great.

    MJ is a genius primarily because he essentially created the genre of the large budget music video. It was his idea to have a Hollywood director create a film to accompany his song. It was he who recognized what the vehicle of the music video could do to enhance the entertainment value of a song. That is why Thriller was completely self financed. As a musician he was not a genius. I would never claim that or place him in that class. He is a genius entertainer not artist.

    A vampire is not a real monster. Idi Amin is a real monster. Hitler is a real monster. A vampire is a manifestation of man’s sexual repression.

    What has Kanye done that no one before him has done? How has he moved hip hop forward?

  11. A vampire is not a real monster. Idi Amin is a real monster. Hitler is a real monster. A vampire is a manifestation of man’s sexual repression.

    No actually – vampires, zombies, etc. are monsters – Idi Amin and the like aren’t monsters – they’re people who did awful things.

    So he used those “monster” images we’re familiar with which is part of the reason why the vid falls flat – those “monsters” are fictitious – we know “monsters” don’t exist. So the imagery lacks power b/c of that although the message is clear.

    MJ is a genius primarily because he essentially created the genre of the large budget music video.

    That’s not why MJ is a genius. He’s a genius ’cause he made perfect pop musical accompanied by the perfect visuals. He knew how to put a show together.

    But he didn’t do that alone. He did change how videos were done. But that was the least of his value – he really understood music and how to put it together – that’s where his genius lies – he was also a master of visuals as is Kanye.

  12. Last I heard the majority of the world classified the majority of these men as monsters and referred to their actions as monstrous. As I said they are real monsters.

    That’s your opinion as to why he is a genius. Why is it the perfect pop musical and not say “The Wiz” or “My fair Lady” or “Singing in the rain”? I said he was a genius entertainer.

    How is Kanye a master of visuals? Please explain this? He did not conceptualize any of the videos. MJ actually came up with the ideas for the videos and used the directors to execute. Moonwalker is a prime example of this. That was his idea, he was aided in filling it out and the execution. I can actually find youtube clips of the sessions where they are going through the conceptualization. I don’t know about his other videos but for “Power” and “Monster” he was not the driving force behind the visual concept. If you can show me to be wrong then fine, i will accept that.

    You still haven’t explained how he’s moved music or the use of the video format forward. Please explain to me how.

  13. Had he hanged, performed necrohpilial acts, and disrespected black women in his video, would everyone’s response be the same? No. Because taking everything into context, this video is not about Taylor Swift or the public’s response to it. If the women in this video had more melanin in their skin then every woman who posts would be livid. This video, and the lyrical content, is the fabrication of a sick mind. Period.

    Read his lyrics and please explain to me how “artistic” and “genius” they are. They do not even fit into the Taylor Swift fiasco motif. Take this video/song for what it is. It is vile. We have the tendency to look at things we don’t understand and think that because we don’t understand them that they are genius. That’s not the way it should be. If anything we should look at everything Kanye does critically, and not throw the genius label around so loosely. John Coltrane was a genius. Stevie Wonder is a genius. I’d even go so far as to say Mos Def is a genius. This ignorance that Kanye West is doing is just heinous. Learn to call a spade a spade!

  14. I do consider Kanye a genius- a marketing genius. If he handled his public image better, he’d have all sorts of endorsement deals. I thought the 50 vs Kanye battle was brilliant. Rappers had “beefed” before but none had strategically used it to impact sales like that. I thought switching it up with 808s was brilliant, and even his ability to comeback after practically a year in ‘exile’. The music industry is spiraling downward and this man keeps finding ways to stay artistically relevant, sell records, shows and create videos that people want to see and won’t shut up about. I think he’s a skilled lyricist, though he too frequently resorts to mispronunciation to create a rhyme where there isn’t one. I don’t really think he has a lyrical flow, like other “great” MCs.

    He’s a damned good producer, and he shows his range also with R&B and one thing I believe Kanye has to his credit (as a producer) that Timbaland and Pharrel don’t is that he doesn’t “own” the sound of the song. Tim and P are great producers but their downfall is also in having that “sound” that permeates nearly all of their songs. So they each had their “era” to rule the charts, but the sound gets to be too much. Remember when Scott Storch’s sound was everywhere? What I do like about Ye as a producer is yeah he samples a lot in hip hop, but when he goes outside that he doesn’t have a definitive “sound” that overpowers the artist. Tim and P have a habit of making a song a Tim or P song, no matter who is performing it, and that’s not always a good look. it dates the song back to an era where they ruled the charts instead of creating a timeless song.

    In that regard, there are some people I don’t particularly care for that I would say are better producers than them, like R Kelly (wow, I think hell just froze over when I wrote that) or Will I Am if we’re talking modern times. Or Quincy Jones if we’re taking it back. Tim and Pharell went so hard on branding themselves as producers that it overpowered the music.

    But I think Ye is a ticking time bomb. a matter of time before he completely cracks. I can’t tell if he’s just artistic or just one incident shy of being committed to a psychiatric ward. I don’t find the imagery to be brilliant, and i don’t think it so because it’s a passive aggressive outlet against white people and what we feel they have “done” to us. As Darius said it wouldn’t be brilliant if these were black women, and honestly, we wouldn’t even be geeking out if they were asian women or latina women. Part of the reason I think some of y’all love it is because it’s like “ha bitches, take that! yeah, your ass is getting it for a change.” I ain’t saying there’s anything wrong with that, per se, but call a spade a spade and not a genius.

  15. I agree with the post (or a few) (Dria) before me about Kanye being a ticking bomb…while watching the preview of the video (or was that it, in its entirety?) , all I could think about “all the heat he’s going to receive for this. I percieved it as racism.

    While some may be wrong for the severity of the way Kanye was treated, he brought it upon himself. You DON’t come to an awards show DRUNK, then get on stage and interrupt someone’s speech and dim their shine. I will admit that he’s a borderline genius (begrudgingly), he’s also an a**. He a narcissistic one. He’s been that way, long before his mother’s passing. Now, it seems exemplified…While I say, let me contradict myself (?) and digress to the ticking bomb comment. He seems to have a love/hate relationship with himself. It’s like, I am who I am, eff you (“My presence is a present, kiss my a**), accept it; On the other hand, he’s humble (?) and wants to be forgiven for his wrongdoings. He needs some help (psychotherapy), that I don’t think he has recieved. We will most likely learn that he has beem admitted…you know how a lot of the greats written some of their best during their darkest? There’s seems to be never no one courageous enough to stop them before it is too late. We don’t want to turn on the tv/radio one day, hearing “Rapper/Producer Kayne West found…”

    Sorry if you don’t understand my point. I had a lot of thoughts swirling in my head.

  16. @leeward well hell yeah! lol you hit it right on the head

    I feel misogyny in this not because of the dead woman, but because of the fact that the only living one, seems so powerless. Why is everyone else a boss in a suit surrounded with anynomous women no diffrent then if this was a normal video, but Nicki is still a sex object? Especially when she has the best verse?! I was waiting for her to transform into some type of beast but at the end she’s just boringly sexy. Also why couldn’t she be attackinga man? Nope, bad Nicki had to attack a women, a form of herself. fucked up : (

  17. @Melison – I already know why you talking about some Hell Yeah…..that’s alright you ain’t gotta agree with me….(looking at you with the SCREWED FACE)

    She was killing off Barbie – which is fairly symbolic when you consider how so many folk feel about Barbie

  18. those “monsters” are fictitious – we know “monsters” don’t exist.

    exactly his point. Which is why the message IS in fact powerful. He’s being satirical like Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”

  19. @DonQ’ – but she’s ( harajuku) barbie?

    So what’s going down here. To kick it with the men you have to be self depreciating, humbling even in their presence? There is no humility from the men. Just swag.

    O’ and I don’t care about that screwed up face….

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