On May 17th, baby daddy/rapper Kanye West dropped a pretty charged song called “New Slaves,” the lead track from his upcoming sixth studio record Yeezus, due out June 18th. Rumor has it the new record features collaborations with Daft Punk, Skrillex, Young Chop, and TNGHT. “New Slaves” premiered May 17th via fabulous videos projected on buildings all over the world, including an ingenious location at the corner of Bedford and North 7th, right in the center of Williamsburg.
‘Ye performed “New Slaves” plus a newer track called “Black Skinhead” on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, and both songs are powerful commentaries on race and prejudice set to sickening, aggressive beats. Kanye is straight snatching wigs and lace fronts. There were images of the Ku Klux Klan, angry dogs barking, plus lots and lots of screaming. With a title like “New Slaves,” you can pretty much assume that the political and racial content is THICK. “They thowin hate at me/Want me to stay at ease/Fuck you and your corporation/Ya’ll niggas can’t control me/I know that we the New Slaves/I know that we the New Slaves.”
Sounds like Yeezy has been through some stuff ya’ll!
But when I listened through the song I immediately thought about William Rhoden’s 2007 book Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. Forty Million Dollar Slaves tells the story of the origin and purpose of sports on plantations during the slave era, making a pretty compelling case that the sports fields today are basically new plantations.
So what do you think is Kanye trying to tell us about the rap game? Or even about blackness more specifically? And who is the focus of all the anger in these songs? Corporations? White people?