1. Kanye West is the definition of the dude you love to hate, but he's certainly appreciated for the music he makes. After last years outstanding 'MBDTF' and this year's very good 'Watch the Throne', I'm not exactly breaking ground by saying I have a lot of love for Yeezy. But right now I want to pay tribute to something that I don't think gets acknowledged very much: 

    Beyond the bravado, clever rhymes and world-class beatmaking, Kanye has continually revealed himself as one of the most progressive voices in not just hip-hop, but all of mainstream media.

    Kanye on Pornography and Sex Work (from Hell of a Life):

     Tell me what I gotta do to be that guy
    Said her price go down, she ever fuck a black guy
    Or do anal, or do a gangbang
    It’s kinda crazy that’s all considered the same thing 

    Ok, so first up, Kanye sends up the racism in porn that equates the 'depraved' nature of interracial sex in certain eyes to other 'taboo' sex acts. For some, sleeping with a single black man equates to fucking 5 white men simultaneously.

    Next, he takes a critical shot at the pay scale for many porn production companies, and the inherent problems with paying actors and actresses differently for what they are prepared to do, or to refrain from doing.

    THEN he does some serious judo.

    Well I guess a lotta niggas do gang bang
    And if we run trains, we all in the same gang
    Runaway slaves all on a chain gang
    Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang

    To my mind, he's making two spectacular points here:

    1) The sexual double standard of guys who would happily engage in 'taboo' acts like group sex, but then use a woman's participation in the same act as evidence of her being a slut and a whore

    2) Sexually and culturally, a lot of racism still ties black people in America together, no matter who's on the 'upper' end of this racism. Black men might employ black women in a rap video and show her in a erotic and degrading light, but those same black men are still being seen by other (white) men as dangerous animals, goons and thugs. In the constraints of racism, black women are whores and black men are criminals. The 'bang, bang, bang, bang, bang' refers to both slang for fucking, and the sound of a gunshot

     Kanye then turns his focus to society as a whole:

    One day I’m gon' marry a porn star
    We’ll have a big ass crib and a long yard
    We’ll have a mansion and some fly maids
    Nothin’ to hide, we both screwed the bridesmaids
    She wanna role play, 'til I roll over
    I’mma need a whole day, at least rolled doja

    At first we have a celebration of hedonism (not exactly new to rap), but look again. Kanye isn't going to have a house full of porn stars to pour champagne on, he aspires to marry a porn star - legitimately and with full implications. He makes it sound fun, and sees her propensity for sexual adventure as a perk, and not a source of shame. Kanye sees nothing wrong with being associated with a sex worker. But others do:

    What party is we goin’ to on Oscar day
    'specially if she can’t get that dress from Oscar de
    La Renta, they wouldn’t rent her they couldn’t take the shame
    Snatched the dress off her back and told her, “Get away”
    How could you say they live they life wrong?
    When you never fuck with the lights on

    According to Kanye, the stigma associated with sex work is society's fault, and not sex workers'. He even takes a nice jab at the prudes, and implies (correctly) that a lot of the baggage around sex and sex work stems from personal guilt and discomfort.

    The fact that anyone is articulating this stuff so well, let along someone in a genre as frequently problematic as commercial rap, is downright amazing. I'm almost out of space here, but just to prove that this one song isn't an out-of-character move for Kanye, check out a line from this year's 'No Church In The Wild':

    We formed a new religion
    No sins as long as there’s permission
    And deception is the only felony
    So never fuck nobody without telling me

    An egalitarian, sex-positive, couple-defined relationship with a textbook definition of a 'Monogamish' commitment.

    And the beat is dope.

    Long live Yeezy.


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