Friday, August 17, 2007

Kanye & Takashi Murakami Cover Art

New York magazine in a recent issue critqued the Takashi Murakami cover art for Kanye's soon-to-be released CD. The writer viewed the art as "confused and busy," and attributed its theme to nothing more or less than "West's recent stylistic infatuation with contemporary Japanese art and anime."

I'm not positive, but I don't think Kanye's love of Murakami is all that recent. Kanye's always been pretty up on the whole streetwear scene and Murakami as well as other Japanese artists have always been a big part of that trend.

For me, the cover art reflect his dichotomous personality as it relates to hiphop. While on the one hand, he's the ultimate insider from a hit-making pespective, he frequently takes an other-orbit, outsider position when it comes to his owns views on rap, as well how he chooses to present himself. Kanye is of the hood, which as the art illustrates, is in and of itself on another planet from mainstream America, but still in another orbit.

And perhaps I'm taking this analysis a step to far, but while the bear's body language is open and hopeful, his expression is blank if not a bit sad. In other words, while being a man without a country brings its own joys, as Kermit knows all too well, it aint always easy being green. New York magazine complains that the cover art would have been much better suited for his very first CD, but no, Kanye then was still very much feet on the Earth, focused on grinding out his hustle.

This worldview is perfectly illustrated in a recent issue of Complex magazine, in which Kanye rates the outfits of four celebrities based on how each of four cultural groups--"Devil Wears Prada, Hipster, Hood, & Middle America" would respond to it. In this particular issue, rather than breaking down the outfits of other celebs as he usuall does, he critiques four of his own outfits. (In some future issue, he needs to do a critique of four women.)


^^Click to enlarge

There are plenty of hilarious comments, like the one he makes on the Hood rating for his 2006 Grammy outfit that he sums up with a phone message he received after the event: "Damn, 'Ye, you let the city down." In the Hipster view on 2007 Hot 97 Summer Jam outfit, he says, "The matchiness is made up for by the ridiculous amount of jewelry and those glasses. Hipsters like it when black people wear a lot of jewelry." Funny yeah (and a little painful cuz I think that view on gold sums me up a little too well!), but the bigger theme is Kanye's Mac-truck-wide perspective combined with a fearlessness when it comes to acknowleding and even laughing at the multiple personalities all outsiders have to create to survive.

In rapping about "the gift and the curse" Jay-Z alludes to the alienation that results from being a black man born with an overload of talent and ambition, but Kanye puts the issue on blast and then even pokes fun at it. As a Scorpio rising with a deep appreciation for the deeply twisted I wouldn't want everyone to be like Kanye, but damn he is a refreshing change of pace.

And on that note, here are some gratuitous shots of Kanye at some recent event. Ya gotta love the kicks.



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