Kanye West’s largely antagonistic approach to getting the word out about his incredible new album, Yeezus, took a weird turn over the last few days. After largely ignoring the American media since his album’s June release, he appeared on the debut episode of inflammatory author Bret Easton Ellis’ new podcast on Monday and used the opportunity to espouse his guiding principle of being (and we quote) “super dedicated to awesomeness, and making things better.” Those are qualities the world could definitely use more of, which is why we were totally thrown off guard when we saw the video for “Bound2,” which is neither awesome nor something anyone would describe as “making things better.”
Kanye’s relationship with the media has taken a pugilistic turn ever since he starting running with Kim Kardashian, and has grown especially volatile since his daughter North West was born. That said, Kanye is smart enough to know how to get his bread buttered, which is why he decided to premiere his new video for “Bound2” on a program like Ellen. He clearly understood that The Internet would talk about his next video regardless of when and where it dropped because The Internet LOVES to dissect Kanye West, but he made the calculated decision to expose the video for his new “love” song to the millions of housewives who watch the Ellen program, a good chunk of whom we’re guessing couldn’t identify a Kanye song from a Jay Z song if they were put on the spot. Even as huge as Kanye West is, there’s a whole section of society who only knows ’Ye not for his music but as the bad guy who crushed poor Taylor Swift’s dreams and impregnated Kim Kardashian while she was still technically married to Kris Humphries. Premiering a new track on Ellen, a show known in industry circles as being the best television platform at driving sales of music, could go a long ways towards giving the commercially disappointing Yeezus a much needed sales boost.
While we won’t know if that strategy paid off until next week’s sales figures come rolling in, we do know that “Bound2” is currently sitting at #78 on the iTunes Singles chart, a few spots below Lorde’s cover of a Tears For Fear song and Justin Timberlake’s floptacular single “TKO.” So, even with a big national TV push yesterday, early results do not look promising.
It probably doesn’t help matters much that the song’s racy subject matter involves ejaculating on a mink coat, Yeezy’s desire to “f*** (Kim Kardashian) hard on the sink,” and a Christmas wish list request to ask “your bitch for other bitches.” When you combine those not-exactly-friendly-to-your-typical-suburban-housewife lyrics with imagery of a fully clothed Kanye having extremely bouncy motorcycle sex with a topless, even-more-blank-faced-than-usual Kim Kardashian, we’re guessing that more than a few television sets across the United States flipped to HGTV by the time Uncle Charlie Wilson’s magnificent voice sang the chorus.
As for the video itself, we are left with one question: “What gives?” We’re used to bold, provocative videos from Yeezy (think “Flashing Lights,” think “Jesus Walks,” think “BLKKK SKKKN HEAD”), but this treatment seems simultaneously overwrought and underthought. We know that this is Kanye’s “love song” to Kim (and, we think, the entire entity that is Kimye), so not casting your babymama is out of the question. That said, someone should’ve given her more direction than simply “Look blankly and without any trace of passion at the camera, the ceiling, and/or Kanye.” The last time we saw Kim looking this dead-eyed was the Ray J video, for real!
And while we can give a pass to the stock footage of horses galloping in slo-mo in the ocean spray juxtaposed with magic hour shots of the American Southwest, the green-screen work here seems downright amateurish, particularly coming from an auteur-type like ’Ye who we KNOW can and should do better.
Listen, don’t get it twisted, our opinion is still that Yeezus is an important and incredibly compelling album. The comparisons to 12 Years A Slave are apt in a number of ways that it would take a whole ’nother essay to explain, but suffice to say that both are powerful ruminations not only on race, but the way our American culture/society operates as a whole. “Bound2” is one of our favorite tracks on the album, even if we don’t really “get” its place as the closing argument of the Yeezus thesis. It will be a long time before we forget about the artistic merits of Yeezus, but sad to say, it will also be a long time before we forget how atrocious this video for “Bound2” ended up being.