Can it really be called censorship if your plan all along was to get censored?
A few months back, before the release of the epic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West tweeted that the cover of the album had been "banned". Rather unshockingly, reliable sources are saying the entire thing was a publicity stunt.
In a recent interview, artist George Condo told The New Yorker’s Calvin Tomkins that Kanye specifically asked him to paint a cover that would be outlawed.
Tomkins said, "A couple of weeks before my first visit to Condo’s studio, Kanye West, the rapper, asked him to do a painting for the cover of his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West said that he had seen paintings by Condo, and wanted to collaborate with him. According to Condo, he also said that he was looking for "something that will be banned."
Tomkins continued, "West came to Condo’s studio, where for several hours they listened to tapes of his music, and over the next few days Condo made eight or nine paintings. Two of them were portraits of West, one in extreme closeup, with mismatched eyes and four sets of teeth. Another showed his head, crowned and decapitated, placed sideways on a white slab, impaled by a sword. There was also a painting of a dyspeptic ballerina in a black tutu, a painting of the crown and the sword by themselves in a grassy landscape, and a lurid scene of a naked black man on a bed, straddled by a naked white female creature with fearsome features, wings, no arms, and a long, spotted tail. West chose that one."
West took to his Twitter account back in October to announce that the shot callers didn’t approve his vision for his forthcoming CD booklet. “Yoooo they banned my album cover,” he wrote that afternoon. Adding, “In all honesty … I really don’t be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers.”
A rep for Walmart denied the allegations. “We’re excited about Kanye West’s new album and we look forward to carrying it in our stores on November 22nd,” a spokesperson said. “As always, it’s our standard practice to carry the edited parental advisory version. We did not reject the cover artwork and it was never presented to us to view.”
It’s not precisely clear who made the decision to "censor" Kanye, if anyone besides himself, though Mr. West is certainly well known for stirring the pot of controversy and making the story if one doesn’t exist to run with. Personally, it seems logical that this sinister-priest picture would’ve drawn more ire:
A rather cheap gimmick, given the intensely ambitious grandiosity of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Read our review of the album, and check out the first track of Kanye’s collaboration album with Jay-Z.