Let’s not be coy: Love Lockdown is what incandescent happiness sounds like. As my readers already know, I’m a big believer in Kanye West’s star power and name him Madonna’s true successor. We can waste our time squabbling over his artistic merits, problematic “authenticity”, often suspect politics, and nearly indiscriminate ambitions, but I for one would much rather cast these hypersubjective positions aside and just revel in the stature of his Pop genius, his sprawling personae, the decadence that is Pop Hip-Hop– typified by Mr. West.

Whatever your take, Love Lockdown is a brave offering. I marveled at West’s VMA performance at the song’s premier, but must admit I’m somewhat more ambivalent about his official music video which premiered two days ago:

It recalls a lot of the questions I raised with the photography of Jean-Paul Goude, especially concerning the place of Afro-Primitivism in fashion.

On one hand, we see that West attempts to reveal his diasporal Pan-African anxieties, which is certainly a resonant theme in black music from the earliest slave spirituals, but one wonders how these images (when existing in the everywhere for the consumption of everyone) will read to viewers who are not sensitive to the complex singularity of the African American experience. Anyway, does Kanye West– an African American— have a fair claim to these primitivist images of Africa–especially of the hypersexualized women? I honestly don’t know. I wonder if there is nuance here that I’m not picking up on, or if the crude juxtaposition is simply meant to be provocative. Well, provocative it is, whatever the aim.

Thoughts?

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