The first single, “Black Skinhead”, the abrasive, invective-laden track from Kanye West’s latest LP, “Yeezus”, now has an official (or is it?) music video. The video has been online off and on throughout the day, with the suggestion that it was leaked before completion. (Click here to watch it at Spin.com) West’s official website index page has a static, un-clickable image featuring A.P.C. Kanye jeans zoomed in above the zipper. (See image above.) The video itself is dark, figuratively and literally. It opens with a sort of reverse-klan image (i.e., black hoods) which transform into nighttime and violently barking dogs with only their eyes visible in the blackness. Then comes uber-Kanye.
At first it looks like Kayne, a kind of mimicking of his SNL performance, but the CGI character morphs from his real body-type into a ripped monster just this side of 50Cent. Cyber-Kanye eventually transforms into an iron-clad metallic beast. (Oh, and West gives us a cock-shot too. The CGI version of himself runs toward the camera, just long enough to give you a one-second glimpse of his digital dangler. Either that or the video is so dark you can only see the trunk of a CGI’ed elephant.) Near the end of the video, we get West with his arms splayed, like, you guessed it, Yeezus on the cross — as he yells out his final lyrics, “God! God!” — industrial noises clanking away like the sounds of nails pounding. Yeah, the latter bit is certainly my interpretation, but I think I’m right to suggest that’s the intended imagery. Watch the video for yourself.
It’s a strange one, albeit, no less beguiling than the record itself — which features West most often at his best (“Hold My Liquor” and the early tracks that obsess over race, power, class, control, and sex) and a few times at his overreaching worst (latter songs on the album don’t have the steam the earlier songs have). For the record, I think the video would be fine, if only the darkness or heavy contrast was cleaned up a bit. It’s difficult to see anything.
As for the “leak”, well, call me a cynic. Running a music blog for a few years, it’s my belief that when I hear about “unintended leaks” from well-known musicians, it usually means it’s on purpose. Maybe West is gauging reaction. If people like it and call him a genius, than great, it’s a keeper. If they don’t, he can always disown the video as a leak that shouldn’t have happened. But I could be wrong. West has never been one to apologize for anything, including controversy. So, perhaps this is what it is — a leak. Welcome to Westworld, where his passion isn’t for sale, but his impressive flair for self-marketing always seems to be on full-tilt. — David D. Robbins Jr.