All told, the album strikes me as incredibly, almost casually, racist.
On some level, I wonder what would have become of John Mayer, had he cut a video with dead black women strewn about, and invoked black women throughout his lyrics in the manner Kanye does. But moralism misses the point here. The problem isn't simply racism or sexism, but boring racism, boring sexism that hearkens back to the black power macho of Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver at their worst. It's the work of a failed provocateur boorishly brandishing his ancient affects. The obvious defense is that this is an exploration of West's psyche, of his fantasy. But actually it isn't. This is an aggressively external album obsessed with dismissing haters, slut-shaming women (black and white), and ultimately, not with Kanye or his fantasy, but with what you will surely say about his fantasy...
And I like the album.
For Ta-Nehisis, liking an album means taking its lyrics seriously. In that sense, his criticism respects West more than his most enthusiastic sycophant.
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