Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” Vid-Slip: What Does it Mean for His Empire?

Image from billboard.com

Image from billboard.com

“Talent is God-given. Be humble,” said basketball Hall of Fame inductee John Wooden. “Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

The ubiquitous Kanye West comes to mind in the wake of Wooden’s wise words. The recently leaked “Black Skinhead” video—rather, a very rough cut of the video, which West claims was leaked before it was ready—seems like another feigned folly. West himself has proclaimed he is “the voice of a generation” (Associated Press), but this latest stunt reaffirms his waning stardom. His music leaves much to be desired, his family is little more than a photo op and his PR track record doesn’t bode well when he doesn’t get his way. Kanye’s latest charade of upkeep may be the beginning of his downfall.

The Clip That Caught the Eyes

When “Black Skinhead” opens, we are treated to a barrage of black, klan-like cartoon figures and ferocious barking dogs set against an army of CGI Kanyes. The visuals are intriguing, but the lyrics fall short. High- and low-brow audiences alike won’t go for his rhyming “sh-t” with “sh-t,” Hennessy references, self-coronation and comparisons of himself to “300 Romans”* conquering a large army that then takes 300 women with Trojans**   (* think he meant Sparta ** was he trying to make a play on the Trojan War? It would be fascinating to hear his explanations of historical ties he uses… or if he just says the only words he knows relevant to antiquity). Back on topic: The racist CGI/skinhead Kanyes were taken down, and Kanye requested media remove the video from their site. Journalistic integrity shouldn’t be biased, so we will request his wishes.

Lucky for fans, the video was  replaced with an ad for the clothing line West has been developing with A.P.C. designer Jean Touitou, who called West a “nightmare” to work with. The small capsule collection they created together comprises a pair of jeans, a hoodie and a T-shirt. Touitou lamented that she feels peace in the Middle East could be more achievable task than placating Kanye.

A Look and a Lady That Fits His Brand

Brooke Crittendon dated Kanye West from 2004 to 2006, and she sat down with The Sun to give some surprisingly poignant insight into how West’s world operates (hint: it’s not over crumpets and discussions about Foucault). West’s quest is to be “untouchable,” and that means having something everyone wants. In his mind, everyone wants Kim Kardashian, and she wants him, explains Crittendon; it’s like his own recipe for artistic and musical supremacy. Fortunately or unfortunately, the general population seems more concerned with who might play the next Christian Grey in “50 Shades” than whatever deal Kim signed to get the baby weight off or how she’s coping with his tour. We’ve seen it all before, especially with the Kardashians, and to us these are comical pics compared to the hard-core “reality” they think their lives are.

Past and Current PR Aura

Kanye has made more on-air faux pas than most, except his seem less fueled by drugs and more devoid of sentient purpose. His unannounced award show hate speeches and zany outfits don’t generate the same media buzz they used to. So, it seems Kanye has decided to be even more controversial with his “leaked” music, CGI concoctions and high-profile personal life. Artists don’t always need much to create work that speaks while it entertains, except “Black Skinhead” doesn’t much of either. Luckily, a reality star girlfriend and well-timed baby will help keep him relevant for a second in case “Yeezus” fails to open his relevancy parachute.

Photo by Flickr user LittleO2

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