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Progressive Classics: On Yeezus and Black Feminism

“Black dick all in your spouse again/ And I know she like chocolate men/She got more niggass off than Cochran, huh?”

Kanye West begins Yeezus with “On Sight” and doesn’t waste any time throwing some salt at his haters. Determined to assert his authority as a hip-hop great, he almost immediately resorts to using a cheap metaphor that describes sexual violence (and dominance) against women. These lyrics call to mind the stereotypical hypersexual Black male whose penis represents a dangerous weapon. These lyrics are particularly problematic since they are aggressive acts of emasculation and power over feminine sexuality. Kanye both congratulates and slut-shames the woman for her sexuality, giving women an impossible paradigm to operate under. In a culture where slut-shaming leads to suicide, Kanye’s misogyny sets a dangerous example about the value of women and their sexuality.

“You see there’s leaders and there’s followers/ But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.”

“New Slaves” starts off with so much potential, with lyrics like, “You see it’s broke nigga racism/ That’s that ‘Don’t touch anything in the store’/And this rich nigga racism/ That’s that ‘Come in, please buy more.'” And then he drops this bomb. We get it Kanye, we live in a capitalist society, dominance and power are prized, and competition occurs. But is the sexual metaphor necessary? When such a stark dichotomy is simultaneously created and devalued, Kanye West demotes women or anyone who identifies as queer to the lowly status of followers – enforcing male privilege in very real ways.

“Fuck you and your Hampton house/ I’ll fuck your Hampton spouse/ Came on her Hampton blouse/And in her Hampton mouth.”

As if one misogynistic lyric weren’t enough, he does it again on “New Slaves.” Given the provocative title of the song and his social commentary, it’s clear that Mr. West is aware of the problematic stereotypes he reinforces with lyrics like this. Knowing his complicity in perpetuating these harmful ideas about Black sexuality certainly doesn’t make it better. Regardless of whatever artistic license anyone is willing to give, he uses his platform to describe the mythical Black rapist and contributes to a very real rape culture. The socioeconomic critique Kanye makes in this song is overshadowed by his sexually violent words and sexual violence is always wrong and harmful.

2 thoughts on “Progressive Classics: On Yeezus and Black Feminism

  1. Very powerful post. I’ve also grappled with Kanye’s lyrics from a political standpoint. His broad reach and potential to impact impressionable youths is wasted on power-drunk lyrics and an insatiable need for shock-and-awe. Kanye embodies the bleak future of political and/or social movements through music. This post is well researched, poignant, and personal.

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