The recent censoring of Huckleberry Finn, where the word "nigger" has been changed to "slave," has incited perennial discourse on both race and censorship, which coincides with the censorship of the cover art for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West's latest album. The original artwork is by painter George Condo, an American contemporary painter known for provocative appropriations of classic European painting subjects using intentional crass rendering.
Wal-Mart, Amazon, and the main chains honor the censored version, which is not surprising, but I wonder what is worse for them? The simple "tits n' ass" (literally) of it, or the historically formidable black-dude-fucking-white-chick hedonist combo? I rarely play the race card, but I'll put my money on the latter. What would get a [n-word] lynched less than 100 years ago has now, however pixilated, sold over 1,000,000 copies. West commissioned the artwork from Condo, wanting an image that would be censored. It seems that the most successful artists are adept at the art of controversy. This perhaps, is West’s—and, in a way, rap in general's rhetoric—unabashed black finger at America, and what a rich and famous long black finger it is.
In the song "Gorgeous," the lyric “What’s a black beetle anyway, a fucking roach/I guess that's why they got me sitting in fucking coach” is preceded by an allusion to The Beatles ("I don't believe in yesterday")—hence West, with an inadvertent Kafka spin, becomes the Black Beatle, a likely peer, or antithesis, to John Lennon. Despite the douchery, which may or may not be part of his personal brand, West’s lyrics are brilliant. He is one smart mutha.
I recently downloaded the album from iTunes and noticed it was pixilated too, which—had I not been aware of the censorship—can be seen as having its own aesthetic and conceptual tendencies, as many visual artists work with the pixilation motif. The censored version has its own beauty, the abbreviation of form to its essence, its constituent notes.
You can still see what's going on. This is the subconscious of white people listening to hyper-masculine misogynist rap: a black dude fucking a white chick (the "universal" ethnographic trophy of attainment) thus compromising the gene pool, that is, if he doesn't cum on her face. It's all rather frightening, the lynching, the cumming, so thank God for those blurry boxes.