For the notoriously impenitent West, any admission of wrongdoing—even in the past—may seem revolutionary. But “Violent Crimes” finds West, now a father of two daughters, trafficking in the same paternalistic tropes that have animated male allyship for what feels like millennia. The song captures the paradigm shift of new fathers-of-daughters so succinctly that it is almost admirable, if only as a rhetorical study: “Father forgive me, I’m scared of the karma / ‘Cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture / Not somethin’ to conquer.” In this framing, women and girls are not worthy of respect and protection by virtue of being human beings, but rather because of their proximity to men. It is not Nori and Chicago’s essential personhood that prompts West to nurture them, but their relationship to him: one in which he is both role model and custodian, dream giver and disciplinarian. West cherishes the attendant control. Even in his attempt to share a realization that affects how he will now treat a sizable portion of the population, West once again centers himself.
More troubling than West’s lyrical dispatch from the intersection of fatherhood and narcissism is the voyeuristic tone in which he raps about his own daughter(s). He outlines his strategies to control the girls’ bodies as they mature, in discomfiting detail:
Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates
Just play piano and stick to karate
I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s
Just bein’ salty, but niggas is nuts
And I am a nigga, I know what they want
I pray that you don’t get it all at once
Curves under your dress, I know it’s pervs all on the net
All in the comments, you wanna vomit
That’s your baby, you love her to death
West pays particular attention to the contours his daughters’ bodies may develop in the future, referencing his wife’s famously enhanced curves in the process. He threatens hypothetical future boyfriends, then imagines a scenario in which a battered daughter comes racing back to him. The lines are disturbing, reminiscent of how Donald Trump speaks about his eldest daughter, whom he has called “hot” and whose sex life he often alludes to. On an album full of references to a president whom West has received no shortage of criticism for defending, “Violent Crimes” stands out for the perverse intimacy with which it links West to Trump. The two men’s arrogance may be staggering, but the ease with which they discuss—and seek to control—women’s bodies is just as striking. Both men draw from deep reservoirs of entitlement; when trained on girls and women, that potent mixture of shielding and possession can grow much more pernicious.
“Violent Crimes,” which features 070 Shake and Ty Dolla $ign in addition to Minaj, is the starkest example of West examining his own misogyny on Ye, but it’s hardly the only track on which he veers into chauvinism. Kanye has long spoken of the women in his life with equal parts reverence and disdain. Ye is no exception to that unsavory tradition. On “Wouldn’t Leave,” which features Ty Dolla $ign again, along with Jeremih and PartyNextDoor, West crafts a cocksure ultimatum. West and Ty close the song with a deceptively saccharine-sounding dedication: “For any guy that ever fucked up (love me or hate me) / Ever embarrassed they girl (love me or hate me) / Ever embarrassed they wife (gone when you miss me).” The lines are an easily legible reference to Kim Kardashian’s public attempts to recoup sympathy for her husband in the wake of his political calamities.