Pessimistic themes in Kanye West's necrophobic aesthetic: Moving beyond subjects of perfection to understand the new slave as a paradigm of anti-black violence

Tommy J. Curry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The release of Kanye West’s Yeezus was indelibly marked by the provocation of his hit song entitled “New Slaves,” which introduced a pessimistic terminology to capture the paradoxical condition whereby Black freedom from enslavement only resulted in the capturing of Black people psychically in the neo-liberal entanglements of poverty, servitude, and corporatism. His analysis, not unlike currently en vogue theories of Afro-pessimism or Critical Race Theory’s (racial) realist lens, maintains that despite all the rhetoric and symbols of progress to the contrary, Black people are simply not free in America. West’s performance of “New Slaves” on Saturday Night Live was only amplified by the “Not For Sale” insignia projected behind him.1 West’s “Not For Sale” insignia was a symbol of independence, as well as a public declaration of his anti-corporatism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-37
Number of pages20
JournalThe Pluralist
Volume9
Issue number3
Early online date31 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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