On Kanye, “Disrespectability Politics,” & Icarus’ Life As A Hoe With Burned Wings
As I noted in February 2016, Icarus was actually a black man in America. Of the black men who have recently flown perilously close to the sun of acceptance and “respectability” in the eyes of the world, Kanye West is potentially the most famous American black man lacking “wings” but with metaphorically wax-burned flesh aplenty. There’s something about the disgrace with which we associate perceived failures like his and the bitterness that consumes people in the wake of handling “taking an L” in public that breeds a desire to invite and delight in wallowing in “disrespectablity.” Couple that with Mr. West’s relationship to humanity’s natural, intrinsic and aggressive desire to copulate. What we’re left with is being in a place where one of the world’s most socio-politically influential men, at his gleefully disrespectable worst, has decided to advocate for fucking as the guiding principle of the new world order. Sick fucks. Quick fucks. We such fuckin’ hoes. We love it.
If anything, the triumph of Kanye West and Lil Pump’s collaborative single “I Love It” proves that we as a collective humankind have succeeded in whittling away all vestiges of nuanced connectivity and interaction from our lives. We’re currently eight billion stripped-raw flesh sacks-as-mammals devoid of all other senses except the ability to feel the desire to fulfill our most urgent emotional needs. In this song being connected to Pornhub’s deft public relations gambit of using social media gadflies to attract respectability-leaning awareness — and moreover, the advertising dollars attached to it — to their portal, it’s a genius stroke. But for Kanye, it’s something even deeper. It’s a full acknowledgment of his denouement from the public’s adoring eyes, yet still being in a position of zeitgeist leadership. Because the digital age will allow it, Kanye — in a manner similar to Johnny Cash — is now allowing us all to revel in his decade of “letting us down,” which allowed him to descend to a place of building an empire in the dirt. And, because of all great black men having a God complex, he wants us to “hurt” with him in this space. Here, with this release as the anthem, he’s finally discovered the most expeditious and aggrandizing way to “Rumplestiltskin” our guilty sins into golden pleasures.
Kanye hasn’t so much turned to porn as a cry from the grips of insanity, or a need to constantly be in the public eye. This is more the full consummation of a fifteen year-long courtship which has seen Mr. West lust after being married to the most significant porn-to-pop culture star of all time. Thus, “I Love It” the greatest celebration of a vertical-lateral shift since Deion Sanders high-stepped while reveling in hitting a Major League Baseball home run and scoring a National Football League touchdown in the same week.
Kim’s the best? Yes. As an important aside, here’s why. In 2007, Kanye’s now-wife Kim Kardashian and Brandy’s brother Ray J had a 41-minute, 2002 sex romp while on vacation in Mexico released by porn company Vivid Entertainment as “Kim Kardashian, Superstar.” As of 2017, the video has been seen 150 million times and has earned Vivid Entertainment $50 million. Comparatively, other legendary pornographic films like 1972’s Behind the Green Door and 1973’s The Devil in Miss Jones have earned, when adjusted for inflation, infinitely more money. However, consider that Behind The Green Door’s Marilyn Chambers had a checkered career that, a decade prior to her 2009 death, involved being “on her way to an early grave, consuming massive amounts of alcohol and cocaine, daily.” As for The Devil in Miss Jones’ Georgina Spelvin, she is a hall of fame pornographer, currently retired and removed from the industry. Comparatively, Kim Kardashian’s rumored 2018 net worth is $350 million, or 600% greater than the worth of Vivid’s earnings from her unlikely superstar making turn.
Between 2004 and 2012, Kanye West mentioned Kim Kardashian in rhyme on four separate occasions. These verses included Kanye noting that Kim K was a beautiful woman for whom he obsessively pined, that would make him want to engage in crack cocaine dealing to gain her attention, or contemplate having threesomes with other women to showcase how much he was erotically aroused by her. Throw in his verse on Future’s 2014 minor hit “I Won,” (I wanna dip that ass in gold/ I wanna dip that ass in gold…You could look at Kylie, Kendall, Kourtney and Khloe / All your Mama ever made was trophies, right?), and there’s a correlation-to-conflation of sex, beauty, pornography and love that develops. At its logical best, it’s this that allows for Kanye’s wild journey into mindless self indulgence that includes creatively directing the inaugural Pornhub Awards and partnering with Lil Pump on a single.
“I Love It” is lyrically terrible but as a production, a magnificent showcase of the ubiquitous, soulful, “sweep, thump, bang” style that DJ Mustard introduced with Tyga’s 2012 hit “Rack City.” The formulaic “Rack City” sound is so aurally pleasing that it, moreso than likely any other thing, should arguably be linked to the schism between Soundcloud-beloved and bubblegum pop-aimed rap, and its more “serious” competition. The snap-rap equivalent of the Black Eyed Peas’ proto-electro-crossover hit “I Gotta Feeling,” everything about the “Rack City” ideal is an easy-to-replicate hook.
Kanye West was once the poster child for hip-hop’s more serious, and not so simply codified, edge. Two of the four mentions he has of Kim Kardashian in verse were on Slum Village’s “Selfish” and 88-Keys’ “Stay Up.” Slum Village are cognoscenti royalty in the hip-hop community, as until 2001, one of their members was J Dilla, one of the most important architects of the genre’s deeply-layered and emotive core. Furthermore, 88-Keys is a legendary underground producer and artist whose industry legacy extends back to the early 90s heydays of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. To slide from these heights to partnering with the most saccharine of 2018 bubblegum beasts in Lil Pump — an artist who, in a two minute long song laconically says the words “Gucci gang” nearly 50 times — is astounding. Moreover, the fact that Kanye’s lyrical content in the song exceeds the low bar for puerile juvenility set by Pump (“your boyfriend is a dork, McLovin”), says everything. This, in the same year as “Lift Yourself’s” “Poopy-di scoop / Scoop-diddy-whoop / Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop / Poop-di-scoopty /Scoopty-whoop.” Kanye, by saying “nothing,” may be saying everything about us, and our interests and futures, as humans.
On the wings of fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama elevating the world’s emotional core in the 2008 Presidential election cycle, Kanye West — though yes, a sex crazed porn aficionado supreme — soared past the likes of 50 Cent, Nelly, Yung Joc, Diddy, and arguably yes, even Jay-Z, to be hip-hop’s most important mainstream star. However, there’s a fly in the ointment, here. In studying Kanye’s artistry between 2009–2018, there’s something to his creative output dovetailing with his personal turmoil that mirrors a social media-choked world being despoiled of its moral compass by the blinding wonder of digital age, occurring in the throes of global economic recession. This fearsome foursome leads us to a place wherein one of the world’s most creatively gifted humans has the space to become a willfully antagonistic challenger of societal norms and master, much like his ally Donald Trump, of the game of “disrespectability politics.”
On November 17, 2007, Kanye’s beloved mother Donda, died. By 2008, he broke off his engagement to designer Alexis Phifer. 2009 found Kanye, drunk, onstsge at the MTV VMAs insulting Taylor Swift. 2009 also kicked off his official obsession with fashion as much, or moreso, than making music. 2010, he’s toasting douchebags and assholes while enjoying “Champagne wishes [and] thirty white bitches in the midst of a “beautiful, dark, and twisted fantasy.” By 2011 he’s both gallivanting in Paris with Jay-Z and being turned on to Chief Keef by Pusha T. On 2013’s Yeezus, he ultimately proclaims himself as the Son of God and dares anyone questioning his brilliant vision to have immediate answers. By 2014, he’s married to Kim Kardashian, which, as noted prior, was an obvious, stated, and ultimate goal of his life. Since this point, the rapidity of his fall from grace has been precipitous, including being embroiled in an epic Grammys brouhaha with the previously mentioned Swift. Include into this dapping up The Donald, a likely journey into the Amazon jungles for an ayahuasca retreat, and a scattershot splay of social media missives all along, and “I’m a sick fuck, I like a quick fuck” feels like the logical bottoming out of a ping-ponging, exhausting journey akin to traveling between Scylla and Charybdis. Kanye clearly eventually drowned, sank to the bottom of the sea of life, yet emerged “free,” in a wild “ghost town” of an existence.
On November 8, 2016, America elected Donald Trump as President. In response, the seven billion three hundred seventy-nine million people in the world who did NOT vote for Trump simultaneously felt so aggrieved that the antagonized life force energy released shifted the balance of the Earth. As a result, Mercury is likely in retrograde for the next 25 years. Ultimately, because of this, the same decline which we have experienced Kanye be assailed by in the past decade, we’ve experienced in the 500+ days since Trump’s election.
Kanye (and yes, by extrapolation, his wife and her entire family) has been a “stripped-raw flesh sack-as-mammal devoid of all other senses except the ability to feel the desire to fulfill his most urgent emotional needs” for ten years. What seems “disrespectful” about his behavior to many is likely merely adaptive to him. If you catch yourself humming, rapping, or snapping your fingers along to “I Love It” — and by the looks of it, MANY people are — you’re likely no better, deep down, than the “deplorable bad man” you likely perceive him to be. Ultimately, because the entirety of humanity (save the less than one percent who voted for Trump, who in the court of public opinion,were already there) was spun in a demonic whirlpool that was the psychological, social, emotional, and physical equivalent of Kanye West’s life for ten years, we are where we are.
Now, we’re all sick fucks who like quick fucks, and there’s nary a thing we can do about our fate.