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Kanye West's album art: Banned in the U.S.A.? Perhaps 'banned' isn't the right word

KANYE_ALBUM_ART_ Superstar rapper Kanye West has become a master of all media in creating anticipation for his upcoming release, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," unleashing songs free to the Web, conceiving show-stopping television appearances and prepping his first short film. Sometimes, as appears to be the case today, the artist's unpredictability has even caught his label off-guard, as the outspoken artist took to the Web and declared that the artwork for his upcoming album had been rejected for the U.S. market.

The artist has also been regularly baring his soul on Twitter, offering his thoughts on rugs, women's fashions, last year's MTV Video Music Awards fiasco with Taylor Swift, the overuse of the term "LOL" and plenty, plenty, plenty more.  On Sunday, the artist utilized Twitter once more, declaring that his desired album cover for "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" was "banned in the USA!!!"

Kanye wrote, "They don't want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix!" and revealed a piece of graphic artwork in which a naked representation of the artist was in a sexually suggestive position with the mythological firebird in female form. In a follow-up tweet, West wrote, "In the '70s album covers had actual nudity... It's so funny that people forget that... Everything has been so commercialized now."

A source familiar with West's discussions with Universal Music Group's Island Def Jam on the cover art agreed to speak solely on the condition of anonymity, proclaiming that he did "not want to lose my job over this." The source seemed to indicate that the debate over the artwork was not one that was cut-and-dry. West was strongly urged to use alternate art, the source conceded, but added that West "was told if he wanted to do it, the label would stand behind him."

At issue, said the high-placed industry source, was whether or not mass-market retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart would carry an album featuring venomous nudes, and one that would no doubt inspire controversy. Though sales at mass merchants have been declining in recent years, data from Nielsen SoundScan for the last two years still had the likes of Best Buy and Wal-Mart accounting for at least 10% or more of physical CD sales.  

A potential boycott from a major retailer would no doubt have a massive impact on West's album sales, especially during the holiday season. "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" is currently scheduled for a Nov. 22 release in the U.S. Though retail reps were unavailable for comment on Sunday evening, follow-up tweets from West seemed to indicate that concerns over retail acceptance played some part in his refusal to alter his intended cover.

Wrote West, "In all honesty ... I really don't be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers #Kanyeshrug!"

-- Todd Martens

Photo: A cropped screenshot of Kanye West's originally-intended album art for "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." Credit: Kanye West / Twitter.com

Comments () | Archives (28)

I've seen this album cover and it's pretty ridiculous that it's banned in the U.S.

The likeness is uncanny...so what's the prob?

Yo Yo Kanye, I'm really happy for you, and IMA let u Finsih, but Maplethorpe had the best picture of sex with farm animals of ALL TIME!

#Kanyeshrug! = #Ka-ching! at the cash register. Mr. West is spinning this thing faster than a 45 rpm single. Why not? The same scheme worked when Spinal Tap's label declined to release their original cover concept for "Smell The Glove", didn't it?

Thank you. I am waiting for this album.

He is so irrelevant.

He is a such a fool







Kayne West is not Jesus, he is not even satan. He is just a tool, another worthless cog in a media machine. He has nothing to say and nothing worthwhile to contribute. His main function is to say or do anything to attract attention to himself, in order to make money. He is a cash cow both for himself and for the leeches who need to feed off of him to sustain their own livelihood.

A Few Cheap Publicity Stunts:
getting married/divorced, arrested, sued, sex-taped, papparazzied, re-habbed, and of course , the ever popular... banned! Younger people fall for this stuff, but older people have seen it too many times.

If Taylor Swift is one of the album cover's nudes, then I'll buy it; otherwise, there's no way in Hades I'd be seen with it. Rap sucks!

Her thrives off of controversy; so I am never surprised by him anymore. Just put the music out and have a regular cover. He is such a drama king. I call him "Kayne Pest", lol!

Kanye, your finger paint play time is over. now back to the studio.

Kanye is such a douche, not even a footnote in music history!

"Everything has been so commercialized now"... he says. You share some of the blame in that, Kanye you bore!

an adult did that thing?

at least show the full cover, instead of hiding it from making an unbiased decision about the cover art

"Land of the Free" indded. More like "Land of sexually repressed religious whack-jobs".

This place is a joke. Grow the Eff up, morons.

What's controversial about the CD cover?

It looks just like him.

It amazes me that in America we have been so dumbed down from everything, that we can't even accept art for what it is! How many of you posters actually go to museums, or enjoy looking at any type of art? I give it Kanye for at least trying to be a complete artist, rather than letting the label execs talk him into putting real naked women, crack, materialistic non-sense on the cover. It's just art people! And the fact that people would come on this page and hate on someone for their artistic interpretation, makes me sad. Pretty soon, people will be going to jail for creating art, music, whatever, because we have people who don't even know the value of being a artist. SMH.... America is culturally, mentally, spiritually, physically in trouble. Wake up people and live... Peace Kanye. Keep creating and doing your thing. I remember a couple of years back they loved you. Now that you are where you are, people are in line to destroy you. Sounds familiar. Can you say Micheal Jackson?

I saw the so-called "artwork" in its entirety at the MTV UK site. I was like "meh." Sure, it was weird but really no worse than other cover art I've seen on heavy metal albums. I think someone just got freaked out because of the interracial themes in it.

If Wal-Mart & Best Buy dont want to sell it, that 's their BUSINESS...calling this a "ban" is ridiculous mis-characterizing of the issue.

BANNING it means it is actually ILLEGAL to sell it...so quit with the drama queen hysteria of trying to pass this off as a "ban". FORCING stores to sell something they CHOOSE not to sell is far worse...that is str8up fascism.

Field of Dreams - "Ban it and they will buy" - the dude is a marketing genius!

Kanye West is providing for the culture , truth , his truth , our truth . What we can't say he has said to the world. Big ups to you ye, GOOD Music. GOOD Friday's . I love it :D

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