At 7 PM on Thursday Kanye West started live streaming the listening party for his newest album, “ye.” While a listening party is a bit of a downgrade from the full-blown fashion show at Madison Square Garden that he used to roll out his last album, The Life of Pablo, the event still felt like an expression of West’s seemingly boundless ego. The occasion was also a bit fraught on account of West’s support for Donald Trump, which did not endear him to his fans, and his bizarre declaration that black people chose to be enslaved for 400 years. But the music was good and the dad vibes were — as it goes with Kanye these days — positive. Well, positive-ish.
On “Violent Crimes,” the album’s last song, Kanye sends a surprising message about how having a daughter has changed his outlook. That’s sweet and it’s cool that Kanye is so devoted to his children, but the song itself sort of gets away from him. Kanye’s inability to hold himself accountable or take a realistic view of his own impulses and behavior gets the best of him yet again. “Violent Crimes” sees West expressing fears that his daughter will end up somehow victimized by the men in her life. “Niggas is savage, niggas is monsters,” muses Kanye. “Niggas is pimps, niggas is players/ Til niggas have daughters, now they precautious/ Father forgive me, I’m scared of the karma/ Cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture/ Not somethin’ to conquer.”
He raps that he doesn’t want his daughter to do pilates or yoga, but instead focus on more wholesome activities like playing the piano and doing karate. West says that he’d rather she end up shaped like him than like her mother Kim Kardashian because his daughter actually “can’t comprehend the danger she’s in.” That’s a deeply strange sentiment that a therapist might be best qualified to parse.
And then it gets downright confusing. Kanye explains that he doesn’t want to “whoop his daughter’s ass” for messing around with deplorable men because it will only driver her towards them. That’s fine… I guess. But shouldn’t he just not want to hit or confront or what-have-you his daughter? Kanye seems attuned to his own hypocrisy, but unable to grasp that he’s not the main character in every story.
It’s worth noting that this all comes after the song “Yikes” in which West offers a subtle but cringeworthy defense of music mogul Russell Simmons, whowas recently been accused of rape and sexual misconduct. “Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too / Imma pray for him ’cause he got #MeToo’d / Thinkin’ what if that happened to me too,” West says. As he once said in response to a question about his Trumpism from the rapper T.I., “Ain’t goin’ against the grain everything I fought for?”
Yes, Kanye. But that can only get you so far.