Tag Archive: Kanye West


Turn [off] the Lights

On the radio the other day, I heard the censored version of Kanye West’s All of the Lights. Normally, I’m indifferent to censorship. I think it’s a bit absurd, but if people feel they need to build a wall between themselves and curse words, well, I feel bad enough for such people that I’m willing to overlook any minor inconveniences it has on my life. Lately, there have been a few song edits that have bothered me. The first is changing the lyric, “Fuck you” in Cee-lo’s Fuck you to “Forget you,” which messes up the rhythm of the chorus. The second is Malaysia’s garbling of “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby” in Lady Gaga’s Born this Way, which Lady Gaga discusses in her Google interview. The last is, of course, the censoring of “I slap my girl” in All of the Lights.

The chorus, functionally the thesis of most pop songs, metaphorically explains that in order to begin to fix the problems in our society, we need to bring them into the light. The song discusses (in order) prison sentences, infidelity, a lack of father figures, custody battles, unemployment, poverty, and drug use through two first-person perspectives. In the context of the song, all of these problems are related, and they all stem from the narrator “slap[ping his] girl [who] call[s] the feds.” To censor an event in this song defeats the message the song is attempting to convey, and, moreover, perpetuates the major problem the song is discussing.

In order to begin solving these problems, we must begin a public conversation. The unwillingness to put this lyric out on the airwaves, only makes deniability of the problem easier, and further isolates women who are in such situations. Shrouding such a situation in silence gives it a type of power; the only route to solving this problem is through the education and openness that results from public admittance and discussion.

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The poorly thought out reasoning behind this censoring seems to be based either on the assumption that if domestic violence is mentioned in music the song is encouraging such acts, or that silence and ignorance will prevent listeners from committing such acts themselves. This thought process is somewhat reminiscent of abstinence only sex education, and is a mindset encountered frequently in the Bible Belt.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A fellow audience member asked his why his books are inappropriate for in-class high school reading, though high school aged readers make up his target audience. Diaz launched into an allocution about the separation of art and religion. He discussed our penchant for viewing all art through a religious/moral lens  and the various problems with such a mindset, mainly that art, the purest form of human expression, doesn’t subscribe to morality–just because it’s wrong to feel something, doesn’t mean you don’t feel it. Diaz theorized that morality and religion are based around struggles for power, which art is unconcerned with.

I don’t want to begin the argument of whether the music Kanye West makes is “art”. Regardless of your feelings, the argument can be applied to this song and situation. All of the Lights attempts to make a convincing argument in favor of morality, but that argument is censored to the point that the listener may not know what parts of the song are even about. When your morality is so extreme that it hinders an educated message in its favor, it’s no longer morality, it’s fear, and such a fear is far more dangerous than any topic it’s trying to censor.

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Robocop

Nothing rhymes with Robocop.

Polo fop, Gogo pop, Hobo slop…

Why’d I write a song about Robocop?

Obiwannabe/Kanye West

In Defense of Kanye

Ever since Mr. West’s infamous rudeness to America’s sweetheart at the 2009 VMAs, America has had beef with Kanye.

More than beef–hatred, really. We discovered that Kanye was a conceited asshole who places his opinion above all else, disregarding what impact he may have on young, innocent country singers. It didn’t help that Taylor Swift is presently America’s little sister.

Nothing I have ever seen or heard from or about Kanye contradicts this line of thinking. I truly believe he is a conceited asshole who couldn’t care less about anyone else, but so what? By making him Pop Public Enemy #1, we’re implying that our society is moral enough to condemn someone for simply being an asshole.

Have we forgotten Chris Brown? Apparently so. A short six months after he was charged with felony assault, “I can Transform Ya” was on constant blast through the airwaves. Mind you, this was the same month in which his insincere, PR firm induced Larry King apology occurred.

And don’t forget the plethora of R. Kelly accusations. Granted, he was never officially charged with anything, which I can only attribute to a damn good lawyer. Seriously, how much photographic and video proof does a court (or a society) need before they can safely assume that maybe this man is sleeping with underage girls?

I could of course also go into the public endangerment that stars such as Lindsay Lohan have often dabbled in. Nobody even bats an eye at these offenses anymore, and these people are immediately forgiven as soon as they finish whatever court sentence was deemed necessary. In my opinion, however, these people are too busy destroying themselves from the inside out to even notice any public scorn that could come their way.

I also won’t get into the infinite forgiveness provided to sports stars. My thoughts on Michael Vick alone constitute an entire other blog post.

I will mention, however, that in the year leading up to the epic Taylor Swift incident, Kanye lost both his mother and his fiance. I’ve lost friends and I’ve been through some bad break-ups, but never something as extreme as either of those incidents. I don’t see how a person can go through such tragic events and not be changed. This isn’t an excuse for his actions, but it’s something to consider.

It’s something to consider when the next Chris Brown  or R. Kelly song comes on the radio or when you’re in line at the grocery store, scanning the tabloids to see who is screwing up and how. Because while not everyone knows someone who has gotten multiple DUIs or slept with a 14 year-old or beat up their girlfriend, everyone knows a jerk, and that’s why Kanye is so easy to hate.