Before his long-awaited album even dropped, Kanye West was embroiled in approximately 43 controversies, many of them involving accusations of sexism. Unfortunately, the mostly excellent and highly moving The Life of Pablo has misogynistic Kanye lyrics aplenty, and they highlight a dark side of his music and personality beyond what has already come out in his public feuds and Twitter rants.
West has often made harsh and slut shaming comments, but lately, it's been worse than ever. When Wiz Khalifa criticized an album title West didn't even end up using, the Pablo rapper responded by dragging his ex Amber Rose, who is also Khalifa's ex, into it. He suggested that Rose and Khalifa's baby belonged to him, ridiculed Khalifa for "letting a stripper trap you," and then got into a weird fight with Rose about, um, butt stuff. More horrifyingly, he also tweeted that he thought Bill Cosby was innocent, somehow expressing his belief in one man's word over that of dozens of women.
Personally, West's questionable lyrics and statements about women have always been slightly redeemed in my mind by his seemingly happy and respectful marriage to Kim Kardashian. But treating your wife and mother of your kids well does not excuse misogyny, and some of the star's past words have made me question even that relationship. Obviously, West is not the only rapper to treat women as status symbols and deceivers, and Pablo is much more about finding God and greatness than that shock value. But unfortunately, his recent behavior makes these lyrics seem less like isolated incidents.
"For all my n****s with babies by bitches/That use they kids as meal tickets"
A common theme found in West's music (and elsewhere, from rap to classic literature) is that all women use children to lock down their men. This came up during West's feud with Khalifa, and West vowed that he wouldn't bring kids into his fights again. Apparently that's not the case.
"I know, I know, I shouldn’t even bother/With all these gossiping, no-p*ssy-getting bloggers"
Making fun of internet trolls and vindictive writers often involves suggesting that they're virgins/can't get women to sleep with them because they're so repulsive. I think making a link between a guy's lack of appeal and his horrible personality is fair game, but when a man's worth becomes about how many people he's slept with, women get turned into points to be tallied.
"You get a jet! You get a jet! Big booty bitch for you! Woo!"
West's closing parody of himself in "Feedback" as the "ghetto Oprah" is funny, but the idea of handing out women among his many favors is gross.
"I bet me and Ray J would be friends/If we ain't love the same bitch/Yeah, he might have hit it first/Only problem is I'm rich"
This is one of those lines that make me worried about Kimye. The idea of having any kind of claim to a woman because you had sex with her first is outdated and sexist, but I also don't love West's implication that his wife is a gold-digger. As if she needs his money.
"I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that b***h famous"
This lyric from "Famous" drew controversy before it was officially released. It's a gross/weird lyric for several reasons: both Swift and West are in committed relationships, Swift did not need West and the "Imma let you finish" incident to make her famous, and giving someone a career boost doesn't guarantee sex. Obviously, there's a false bravado to the line that doesn't seem serious, but the fact that Swift reportedly vetoed its inclusion makes the whole thing a lot worse.
"My ex says she gave me the best years of her life/I saw a recent picture of her, I guess she was right"
This jab at a woman (presumably Amber Rose) is petty and mean. If he's over her, he maybe shouldn't talk about her so much? Also, a woman's appearance isn't inextricably tied to her happiness.
"That p*ssy should only be holding exclusive rights to me, I mean/He flew you in this motherf**ker on first class"
This line actually comes from Kendrick Lamar's verse on "No More Parties In L.A." but I hate the idea that comes up over and over in West's music that links material/financial assistance to guaranteed sex.
"Four times that you say don’t text me hoe/Told you four times, don’t test me, hoe"
This section of "FML" gets a little threatening toward a woman while suggesting that West will not be insulted in public. It's darker than a lot of the album, and made me a little queasy.
These are the worst, and arguably only, offenders on The Life of Pablo. On their own, none of these lyrics would necessarily make me simply dismiss West as a misogynist, but in light of comments like his Bill Cosby tweet, it's hard not to be listening for sexism in his music.
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