After enduring several torturous hours without an update on its progress, Kanye West’s forthcoming My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy got a much-needed publicity boost late last night when the rapper revealed that his proposed album artwork had been “banned”—as in, “Yooo they banned my album cover!!!!!”—for its graphic depiction of a naked Kanye being straddled by a mythical bird-woman. With boobs! And ass! “They don’t want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix!" Kanye tweeted, quickly following that up with, “In the '70s album covers had actual nudity… It's so funny that people forget that… Everything has been so commercialized now,” and the complaint that “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.”
It’s a valid point—except that no one is exactly “banning” anything: As the L.A. Times found out, Def Jam never forbade him from using it, but rather “strongly suggested” he change it. And in truth, this decision could have been as much about watercolor nipples as the fact that it’s horrendously ugly, the sort of thing prisoners doodle during art therapy class. But in the end, the label told West that they would stand behind him whatever his decision.
Reportedly there was some concern that big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy—leading to Kanye inadvertently creating the next big hashtag trend with, “In all honesty … I really don't be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers #kanyeshrug!”—but it’s hard to believe that the 10 percent of total music retail sales that these stores account for would have led West to completely ditch his artwork if he truly believed in it and the principles of his "true creativity." So in reality, this whole “ban” controversy seems like one big #kanyeshrug of a publicity stunt.