Kanye West is all about pushing the envelope, whether that means singing an entire album in AutoTune, creating a 35-minute art movie to promote his new album or giving that disc a controversial piece of cover art that is sure to turn heads.
West revealed the provocative image on the cover of his upcoming album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, over the weekend on his Twitter and immediately claimed that it had been banned. The colorful illustration by contemporary American painter/sculptor George Condo — who also provided the image for West's "Power" single — depicts a nude, demonically grimacing West reclining on a blue couch and gripping a green bottle while a naked winged woman with a polka-dotted tail straddles him.
"So Nirvana can have a naked human being on they cover but I can't have a PAINTING of a monster with no arms and a polka dot tail and wings," West raged in one tweet, referring to the iconic image of a naked baby boy swimming after a dollar bill on the cover of the grunge legend's 1991 major label debut, Nevermind.
Just before raging about the alleged cover controversy, West noted on Sunday night that he was putting the final touches on the album, which is due out on November 22. "Last day to wrap the album ... I'm feeling so blessed on this day," he wrote. "Finishing my 5th studio album in 6 years! Lining up piano sample replays ... Adding the voice samples from the VMA performance to the album version of 'Runaway' also [so] the whole song is 8 minutes long."
A few hours later, Kanye announced, "Yoooo they banned my album cover!!!!! Ima tweet it in a few ..." adding a short while later, "Banned in the USA!!! They don't want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix!" West never revealed who allegedly banned his album art (or how it was censored in the wee hours of a Monday morning), but railed against the action, saying it was a double standard.
"In the '70s album covers had actual nudity ... It's so funny that people forget that ... Everything has been so commercialized now," he complained. He seemed to take it in stride just moments later when he joked, "I know that cover just blew yall minds ... I wish yall could see how hard I'm smiling right now!!!" Always aware of upholding his high artistic standard, Yeezy explained that he "really [doesn't think] about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers," launching the new hashtag "#kanyeshrug" as proof.
According to the Los Angeles Times, an unnamed source familiar with West's discussions with his label, Island Def Jam, said the rapper was "strongly urged" to use a different cover image but was told that "if he wanted to do it, the label would stand behind him."
The reported concern is whether such mass-market retailers as Best Buy and Wal-Mart — which still account for up to 10 percent of all CD sales — would carry the album as it is now. A boycott from the chains, which have caused artists from Nirvana to John Mellencamp to either change album art and song titles or face a ban in the past, could have a major impact on sales for 'Ye's latest.
What do you think of the artwork for Kanye's album? Tell us in the comments.