Kanye has done many outlandish and obnoxious things, blemishing his mostly brilliant career, moments when even the biggest Yeezy Stans have found it hard to defend him against the anti-Ye masses. But with a lot of those moments, there were just enough scraps to cling on to where we could convince ourselves that there was genius at play within all the actual madness. That time he called George Bush a racist on live TV – it’s what others were thinking, wasn’t it? And when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMAs – well, does any one remember the video she won that award for? Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ clip, meanwhile, truly was one of the greatest of all time.
Lately though, it’s becoming harder and harder to work out what where to stand on certain things Yeezus does. His recent Ellen appearance, for example, which saw the rapper compare himself to everyone from Steve Jobs to Walt Disney (for about the billionth time). Some would call it “stream of consciousness”, but maybe it’s just the words of a star losing his grip on reality. While tweeting that Bill Cosby is innocent is just downright inexcusable.
Kanye once rapped “As soon as they love you, make them un-love you” and this is how Kanye’s entire career plan feels at the minute. He’s possibly the most influential artist in the world and he’s married to probably the biggest celebrity, so he is in a rare position to pretty much do whatever he pleases. Yet, of course, what Kanye really wants to do is produce a video that depicts himself, his wife, his ex and Taylor Swift all naked in a bed together.
The ‘Famous’ video premiered in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,000 people at the Forum in Los Angeles last night (June 24). An event very similar to the ‘Life Of Pablo’ listening party held at Madison Square Garden earlier this year, West aired the official clip of ‘Famous’ for the first time – not to be confused with the “official unofficial” video that Aziz Ansari made.
The video, airing in full now at Tidal, depicts twelve of the most famous people in the world naked in bed together. Along with Kanye and Kim (very much the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of the piece), there’s cameos (well, kinda) of everyone from Swift to Rihanna, Donald Trump to George Bush, plus Anna Wintour, Chris Brown, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner and Bill Cosby. The clip, which references a painting by American realist Vincent Desiderio, has been labelled as “walking performance art” by Kanye himself, who clarified that “It’s not in support or anti any of [the people in the video]… It’s a comment on fame.”
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How much of this do we actually believe though? Sure, there’s an element of the literal nudity that symbolises the nakedness that those that live in the public spotlight tend to feel, and the way the bodies are Photoshopped to almost perfection says a lot about celebrity culture. But really you get the feeling that what Kanye to do is shock, with his own version of gaudy erotic fan fiction. Maybe this time it really is the case of The Emperor’s New Leather Jogging Pants.