An incomplete review for an incomplete album
Kanye West's gospel album Jesus Is King may have been delayed indefinitely, but he's certainly not keeping quiet.
Have faith... https://t.co/2HF4HiPQoq— Kim Kardashian West (@Kim Kardashian West)1569625749.0
September 3rd saw the release of Francis and the Lights' atmospheric "Take Me to the Light," which Kanye appeared on alongside Bon Iver. On Sunday, Kanye performed with a gospel choir in a church in Jamaica, Queens. And today, nine of his unreleased songs surfaced on the Internet—as iTunes ringtones.
Take Me to the Light (feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West) www.youtube.com
In September 2018, Kim Kardashian announced that her husband's next album would be called Yandhi. That album never appeared and was eventually scrapped, or so we thought. But as of today, people can listen to 26-second excerpts of nine songs from the album via the ringtones section of the iTunes store. To own the tracks, you'll need to fork over $1.29 for each.
In the age of streaming and texting, does anyone call each other or use ringtones anymore? It's hard to say what Kanye's up to, but then again, he's been a reliable wild card for years.
There is heavy speculation that the songs were all leaked by someone other than Kanye, meaning that it's possible that these songs reached us illegally. Regardless, this could be the last collection of secular material we ever hear from West, judging by his recent declaration that he'll "only do gospel music" from now on.
So, to match the nature of the brief samples we were given, here's a short, incomplete review of each song:
The first track, "New Body," places a punchy, vintage hip-hop beat and record-scratch sound over a recording of a flute. The song, which features Ty Dolla $ign and Nicki Minaj, leaked in July. Its release comes after Nicki announced her possible retirement from music, so these might be the last bars we hear from either of them for a while.
Kanye West Ft. Nicki Minaj, Ty Dolla $ign - New Body www.youtube.com
"Slave Name" places a triumphant electric guitar solo over chill-inducing choral melodies and flickers of electric piano. In its emotional intensity, it resembles the iconic climax of "Runaway" (though it never quite reaches that level of spiritual grandeur, but then again, it never gets the chance to). The far-too-short fragment now available on iTunes appeared in several versions as a leak and samples the song "Wally Wider" by Delicate Stevens.
kanye - slave name (extended) www.youtube.com
"80 Degrees" puts a trap beat over synthy flourishes and slurred falsetto vocals. You can make out the statement, "I can walk on the water," which goes well with Kanye's new born-again religious convictions. Kanye previously teased the song in a promo video, but this is the first we've heard of its release since then.
KANYE WEST- 80 DEGREES (HURRICANE) FULL LEAK www.youtube.com
"Alien" is all lush, stratospheric synths and spaced-out woodwinds, which seem to be the defining characteristic of this album. Opening with the line, "I won't let them get the best of me," this song is reminiscent of the wide-eyed aggression of the Graduate. It leaked in full in July, but it's tough to find online, so you might be stuck with the ringtone for now.
On "Law of Attraction," Wyoming's newest resident begins with a chorus made up of muddled harmonies. It then veers into a rap verse over what sounds like a car door alarm (which has annoyed some fans so much that one made a version without the beeps, though some firmly stand by the beeps). This song was also leaked in full in July and is sometimes called "Chakras/Law of Attraction." It's a seductive collage of futuristic sounds and autotune, the kind of thing that, ultimately, only Kanye could make.
YANDHI - LAW OF ATTRACTION (WITHOUT BEEP) www.youtube.com
"The Storm" is smooth and glossy, with R&B elements that are almost reminiscent of Drake. "Don't troll yourself," the lyrics say. "Girl you owe it to yourself." Well, that's good advice, but the song itself unfortunately features the late, disgraced rapper XXXTentancion (alongside Ty Dolla $ign), making it somewhat hard to listen to. It does contain the poetic couplet, "We began after the storm inside / leaving then it's just the morning light," but as to whether its lyrical merits outweigh the presence of XXXTentacion (and Kanye's fraught persona, for that matter), that's for listeners to decide.
"We Got Love" features Teyana Taylor. Kanye debuted it on SNL in September 2018, then released the full track on SoundCloud in November, and it can be listened to in full online. It's an ode to success as a protest to struggle. "Love is the new money," goes the chorus—a rallying cry for today's world if there ever was one. A voiceover recording at the end goes, "You can have all the money in the world...but if you can't be a person of integrity while having all these things, then what does it mean? Your value is internal." One would wonder if Kim Kardashian believes this. Regardless, the song seems to indicate the presence of a newly inspired, enlightened Kanye.
Kanye West - We Got Love (Feat. Teyana Taylor) www.youtube.com
"Bye Bye" leaked in July (under the name "Bye Bye Baby") alongside "Law of Attraction." It was the third song on an early album tracklist. It's about overdosing, excess, UFOs, and refusing to take one's meds; and in its chaotic energy, it's most similar of ye and the singles that came out last summer.
As songs like "Bye Bye" highlight, Kanye has clearly struggled a lot. If religion is a way for him to make peace with the world and his own mind, and especially if it gets him to renounce his troublesome political viewpoints, we should all be here for it—even if it means that the best we'll get of Kanye West's secular repertoire are 26-second glimpses.
Popdust does not own or endorse any of the audio or videos linked to in this article.
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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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MAY 11TH-13TH | What's coming to theaters this weekend?
Your mom is going back to college, you'll need to rescue your kids, and things are getting dark this week at the movies.
In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about having your pants scared off? Maybe you just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have you covered. Take a peek at our top picks for this week…