In advance of the June 18 release of his latest album, “Yeezus,” Kanye West is engaged in an unusual form of performance art public relations.
One of the singles from the rapper’s upcoming album is entitled “New Slaves,” and the piece is being debuted in various locations around the globe via video projections on the exterior of buildings.
Along with his own website, West has utilized social media sites Instagram and Twitter to drop clues to the public and press about where the video projection events were going to take place.
In mid-May, the “New Slaves” video was displayed on 66 buildings in prominent global locales that included New York, Chicago, London, Paris, and Sydney.
A second round of video projections occurred over the past weekend in which “New Slaves” was screened on the exteriors of buildings located in 22 additional metropolitan areas, including the U.S. cities of Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, and Tucson.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the police intervened and prevented a projection of West’s video that was slated to take place at Houston’s Rothko Chapel. Fans were informed that if they failed to disburse they would risk the possibility of receiving tickets for trespass violations.
Two additional scheduled Houston video projections were also halted, one that was scheduled to occur at the Central Library and another at the George Bush Monument.
In Baltimore, just hours before “New Slaves” was being readied to appear on the walls of the Bromo Seltzer Tower, Walters Art Museum, and Baltimore Museum of Art, police officers used Twitter to announce that the event had been terminated.
A spokesperson for the Baltimore police indicated that the events had been called off because organizers had failed to seek permits and there was the potentiality of attracting sizable crowds.
In addition to the stated reasons for event cancellations, authorities in both cities were likely concerned about the possible negative fallout from the racially charged lyrics, which are an explicit part of West’s rap song.
“I know that we the new slaves, I see the blood on the leaves, They throwing hate at me, Want me to stay at ease, F*** you and your corporation,” West conveys through the song’s lyrics.
West, incidentally, through the promotion and distribution of his music and through business projects beyond, is fully immersed in the corporate culture. Additionally, he is romantically linked with Kim Kardashian, an individual of extensive celebrity who is pregnant with his child. Individually, and now together, the two have taken sales, marketing, and personal consumption of corporate products to staggering new levels.
Despite the fact that the careers of West and Kardashian are heavily dependent on the media exposure that they routinely receive, West expresses hostility in the rap song toward the paparazzi, saying, “So go and grab the reporters, so I can smash their recorders.”
A good portion of the “New Slaves” tune contains lyrics that are implicitly violent and/or so extremely coarse that they are rendered unsuitable for print.
West made an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” earlier in the month to perform “New Slaves.” He was accompanied by images of fierce Doberman dogs and KKK hoods.
For all of the success and adulation that he has experienced, the music star nevertheless appears to be preoccupied with the issue of race. In September of 2005, during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina, West apparently deviated from a prepared script to inform the audience of the following: “George Bush doesn't care about black people.”
President George W. Bush referred to the incident as “one of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency.
In September of 2007, West suggested that the reason Britney Spears had opened the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) as opposed to himself was related to race. “Maybe my skin’s not right,” West said.
During the September 2009 VMAs, West stunningly interrupted Taylor Swift as she was accepting her award for Best Female Video. He grabbed the microphone to declare that Beyoncé’s video was the musical work that should have won.
West now seemingly wants his fans to accept the idea that, despite his immense acclaim, abundant accolades, and untold wealth, he is somehow a victim.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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