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SOME STUFFS/OPINION: Kanye West's new album cover banned?

As posted by Kanye West himself on his Twitter account, this is said to be the official album cover artwork for the forthcoming My Dark Twisted Fantasy.



In a genre known for its share of explicit and off-color album cover artwork, especially on the independent/underground side, can any cover be that offensive to where it is banned? Decide for yourself.

What's offensive? Is it the idea that the dark demon being has a white woman climbing over him? That alone should be the real topic of discussion: who does the white woman represent? The music industry? Mainstream media? Temptation? Some may see this image as being demonic, since people love to jump on Lord Satana's case all day. A few years ago, people were accusing Jay-Z, Beyonce and Rihanna for bringing demonic influences into their music.

Now, demonic influences in music have existed forever. There are more than enough blues musicians who spoke of having a "Hellhound" on their trail. Thousands of people blamed The Beatles for being a negative influence on the youth, all while Elvis Presley could do no wrong, even if he had his own demons to deal with. The Rolling Stones were more evil than The Beatles. Then you have countless prog rock albums that played around with evil and sinister imagery, including that of King Crimson, whose debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, features a core sample that has been heard over the last few months in a song co-produced by Symbolyc One, "Power". One begs to ask: is Kanye's album and artwork basically all leading to who truly has the power? Does Kanye see himself as the self-proclaimed Crimson King? If he is a monarch and we see him smiling, is it possible to cover up his smile and still see the sadness in his eyes?

None of this may have to do with the cover, but this is also not the kind of album cover artwork you'd expect to see on a hip-hop album cover. Hard rock, heavy metal, thrash metal, speed metal, black metal, death metal, stoner metal, sludge metal, and every other dark forms of metal lay in the caverns of rock. Yes, we expect to see a ghoulish monster on his throne with blood drooling, eating the head of the woman he holds in his hand, but… hip-hop?

Take a look at Billy Paul's album cover artwork for War Of The Gods.




The title track spoke about the battle between good and evil, and how some times those who promote good may be "devil's in disguise", or someone who uses good as a mask to hide their true intentions. West could be playing with metaphor in his music and artwork to make a bold statement, and he's preparing the public for his trademark level of headiness.

As word about West's album cover was discussed on Twitter, the first thing I thought was if this was actually the official artwork. Since West hit Twitter, he gained over 500,000 followers in hours. He knows that the means of promotion is no longer in magazines or on MTV, but has been on the internet for 15 years. His music is used in a commercial for The Social Network, it's heard in sports games, it's always on. I had said that this album cover may not even be the real cover artwork, maybe it's nothing more than a promotional tactic to let people know "the album is here, and it will be coming out in a month." What if this image is just one of four, five, six, or seven "false" images for the artwork? A week or two before the album release, he will then reveal the proper cover. If that happens, people will go "oh, so Kanye has been fucking with us the entire time?" Hell, since West has become more than just a producer and established himself as a primary artist, he has been doing nothing but fucking with the public, and going over people's heads. I actually like the way he does this, because it's not normal to do this in hip-hop. I had said that some of West's tactics remind me of what Nirvana were doing before and after the success of 1991′s Nevermind, using sarcasm, humor, and calculated tactics as a means to promote your music, as long as people actually listen. People are actually listening to West's music, his tactics are a part of his charm and those who are disgusted by it are falling for everything he has created. Nice job, if that is what he is doing.

Another factor. West himself says that this cover was banned by his U.S. label, which means this may or may not be the album cover the rest of the world. In other words, his country of origin cannot give him the freedom he desires, and yet he can be the crimson king elsewhere? If that too is true, that can be considered metaphor.

Most people today obtain their albums online, whether it's through iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, or unofficially through blogs and torrents. Can a banned album cover make any true impact if that cover is nothing more than pixels? Can a banned cover still have its sting when the image will be seen a month before its intended target? This isn't Piss Christ, which some might find more offensive than this image.

Or if we are to look at the two beings on the cover, is the issue that it might be depicting interracial sex? Never mind inter-species sex, but the moment a being of a dark nature is seen being sensual and sexual with a white woman, the entire world burns in horror. Is this the real reason it was banned? Or was this image banned at all?

Maybe it's possible that the dark being on the cover is the metaphorical bear that was on West's earlier albums. He went to school, wasn't registered, wanted to drop out, but he stayed in and graduated, flew to the sky.

Or does this dark being represent hip-hop? Does this image represent the last verse in Common's "I Used To love H.E.R."?
I might've failed to mention that the shit was creative
But once the man got you well he altered the native
Told her if she got an energetic gimmick
That she could make money, and she did it like a dummy
Now I see her in commercials, she's universal
She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle
Now she be in the burbs lickin' rock and dressin' hip
And on some dumb shit, when she comes to the city
Talkin about poppin glocks servin' rocks and hittin' switches
Now she's a gangsta rollin' with gangsta bitches
Always smokin' blunts and gettin' drunk
Tellin' me sad stories, now she only fucks with the funk
Stressin' how hardcore and real she is
She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz
I did her, not just to say that I did it
But I'm committed, but so many ****** hit it
That she's just not the same lettin' all these groupies do her
I see ****** slammin' her, and takin' her to the sewer
But I'ma take her back hopin' that the shit stop
Cause who I'm talkin bout y'all is hip-hop

People have talked about how West's new music is coinciding with the 20th anniversary of one of the best eras in hip-hop, the last of the "golden era", even producer 9th Wonder commented that he sees a renaissance in what represented hip-hop before. Other well known producers and DJ's are saying he's bringing back the sound of old breaks and beats, when you were able to move planets with just loops.

What exactly is Kanye's Dark Twisted Fantasy? I guess we'll watch and see what he unveils next.


Link to article - http://www.thisisbooksmusic.com/2010/10/17/some-stuffs-kanye-wests-new-album-cover-banned/
 
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