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Why Everybody Has Missed The Point Of Kanye's Bound 2 Video

by Hari Sethi
21 November 2013 103 Comments

Never one to do something ordinary, this week Kanye unveiled his new music video to "Bound 2" from Yeezus. Featuring horses, waterfalls and Kim Kardashian on a motorbike, it caused a stir on the interweb. Here's why everyone so far has missed the point...

Upon the release of Kanye West’s new music video Bound 2, I, like many fans around the world rushed to see what the self-professed ‘creative genius’ had in store for me.

And like many fans I was left confused, disappointed and somewhat angry at what I initially took to be a video both flawed in its conception and execution.

In my rush to be amongst the first to condemn Bound 2’s visual accompaniment, I allowed myself to get carried away in the collective vitriol and thus fell into the trap of knee jerk journalism; a crime I do my best to avoid committing.

On the surface, West’s video for Bound 2 is nothing but a poorly directed and trashy document of the rapper having tantric sex with his fiancé, whilst NOT riding a dirt bike, through an ever changing artificially recreated landscape.

Confused at why West would seemingly produce a video so out of keeping with his brand and usual aesthetic style, I assumed Bound 2 was simply a creative brain fart, a misguided concept that had eventually produced a laughable product.

Yet, as I allowed my thoughts to settle on the video, I started to realise that perhaps I’d been guilty of judging it too quickly and without contextualising it within West’s recent actions and creative output.

Contextualising Bound 2 as a track within West’s album Yeezus provides us with the first hints of the rapper’s intentions.

Yeezus’ standout tracks, New Slaves, Black Skinheads and I am a God are fuelled by West’s feelings of anger and frustration at what he perceives are creative glass ceilings, those that prevent him from fully realising his ideas.

The title of the album and track I am a God ft. God caused a predictable stir, as any reference to self-deification would do in a traditionally Christian country, yet creating a stir is exactly what West has sought after throughout his entire career.

Though by his own admission, West isn’t perfect, when one thinks of the moments in the rapper’s career which have caused the most controversy, they inevitably occur when West has fundamentally disagreed with something he has seen.

Whether it be Taylor Swift’s besting of Beyonce at the VMAs, or when West went off script to declare “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”, when Kanye thinks something is wrong, he sticks his neck out and says so.

Prior to the release of Bound 2, Kanye was most recently embroiled in controversy due to his decision to print the confederate flag upon the back of jackets in his tour merchandise.

West has openly stated that his intention wasn’t to offend, but to nullify a symbol of racism and pain, by re-appropriating it with himself.

“The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way. That’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I wrote the song ‘New Slaves.’ I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now. Now what you gonna do?”

Earlier this year, in his interview with BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, West intimated that those in his genre only wear expensive clothing and jewellery to give themselves a sense of superiority and equal footing with the examples of white success they’re surrounded with.

The rapper stated that whilst he was guilty of the same actions, what he and his peers actually sought was equality.

“We don’t want to have a print on the back of our $2000 jacket making us feel like a king for a day. We don’t wanna have the jewellery just trying to make ourselves feel good; we want to be good.”

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West’s latest album is a case study of the rapper’s attempt to nullify a variety of racial iconography by appropriating such symbols with himself and his race.

By naming his album Yeezus and having a song titled “I am a God”, West is attempting to re-appropriate the most culturally recognisable white figure in the world. This is no mean feat, especially in a country where self-deification is often met with hysterically aggressive retaliation.

During his interview with Lowe, the rapper expressed his delight at the hysteria ‘I am a God’ was causing and the indignation that such self-deification was met with.

When someone says ‘I am a God’ everyone says ‘who the hell does he think he is?… would it have been better if I had a song saying I’m a nigger or I’m a gangster? To say you are a God, especially when you got shipped over to the country you’re in and your last name is that of slave owners; how could you have that mentality?” 

Black Skinheads is yet another example, where racial inversion attempts to dilute the impact of ‘skinhead’ a word synonymous with the neo Nazi movements that gained prominence throughout North America, during the 1980s.

Collaborating with British fashion photographer Nick Knight, West’s video for Black Skinheads showcased another attempt to commandeer racial iconography, with the video opening to a shot of three hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan, cloaked in all black robes.

Those with knowledge of semiotics will know that the colours white and black are age-old semiotic binaries, white denoting a positive purity and black denoting the negative unknown.

By inverting these binaries, West is seeking to establish contradictory allegories of his own, therefore changing people’s perception of previously harmful stereotypes.

All of this context finally brings us onto Bound 2 and the seemingly vapid video that West and Knight teamed up to produce.

Bound 2 is littered with a variety of the most stereotypical motifs of white American pop culture.

We are first shown the easily recognisable landscapes of North America, with mountains, canyons and deserts. Next come the beautiful white stallions, the lone male figure riding off into the sunset and finally the beautiful woman.

We even get subjected to soft porn when West and Kardashian feign intercourse atop of his dirt bike.

All of these motifs are represented so shoddily, that it simply must be intentional; Kanye isn’t short on money folks and Knight is a more than accomplished director.

Simply put, Bound 2 is an obvious parody disguised as a pastiche; however, there is one exception.

The only aspect of West’s video not associated, as being stereotypically American is the rapper’s presence itself. West may be the lone male rider, whom accompanied by his beautiful lover is slowly riding off into the sunset. But his race doesn’t fit with the conventional stereotype, this is yet another appropriation and a remarkably clever one at that.

The fact that Kanye chose to premiere his video on Ellen, a TV show with an overwhelmingly white demographic isn’t a coincidence either. West is actively striving to break down white American stereotypes by making the average white American confront his integrated versions of them.

The only difference Bound 2 has to the examples listed above, is that it’s so subtly done that in today’s culture of voracious media consumption, most (including myself) mistook the video for trash.

West is well aware of how he is perceived and when asked if he expects everyone to understand his songs meanings, the rapper responded astutely.

“ No, I don’t expect people to understand me. I think there are people who are wired by their parents to understand what I’m saying and then there are those that are wired by their parents to reject it.”

Whilst we all cringed at silly ol’ Kanye, it’s highly plausible the rapper had the last laugh.

Beaming from ear to ear once the video had premiered on Ellen to rapturous applause, West knew he’d succeeded.

We’ve all been had.

If you like it, Pass it on

image descriptionCOMMENTS

Sion 5:22 pm, 21-Nov-2013

Couldn't agree more. Still not sure if i fully understand the video, but your descriptions of Kanye are pretty accurate. Never thought about the effect of the premiere being on Ellen was.

Jane 6:26 pm, 21-Nov-2013

The best analysis of Kanye's person and works that i have ever read.You a great critical analyst.

Laurence 6:24 pm, 22-Nov-2013

Great article.

asher 11:02 pm, 22-Nov-2013

I can buy this interpretation. But then, why execute it so poorly? To further articulate that our accepted white tropes are cheesy as hell?

Dingus 12:24 am, 23-Nov-2013

What country is self-deification not met with a strong reaction?

Joby Joobz 12:26 am, 23-Nov-2013

Great article. i'm a huge Kanye fan. And, I'm happy that your analysis was minus the personal emotions towards Kanye.

Chet 1:29 am, 23-Nov-2013

Brilliant analysis. I'm still not a fan of the song but contextualizing as you have gives me new insight.

Bailey P 5:19 am, 23-Nov-2013

Cool article. I noticed after that he was wearing plaid on plaid. Pretty stereotypical and fitting with this article.

bob 5:37 am, 23-Nov-2013

But why make the video so shitty? You could have just as easily made all the same points, confronted all the same stereotypes, bucked all the "norms" and actually GONE to the Grand Canyon to shoot... Not made a shitty green screened video that rips off the shitty "Hooked on a Feeling" music video, not made a video that looks like it was shot in front of a Ken Burns documentary, not made a video that is the music video equivalent of getting your photo taken in front of one of the airbrushed photo canvases with the Bentley and champagne on it. I hate how every time this asshole does something half-baked people rush out to justify how it was genius. Maybe it had some high minded idea somewhere, but the end result is still a big pile of shit. We could hypothesize about why anyone does what they do and come up with reasons and justifications for it, but at the end of the day, sometimes they just make something shitty and it's not a bad thing to call them out on it. Especially since there are people doing it so much better. You do everyone a disservice by trying to re-heat this microwavable garbage.

Jason 10:53 am, 23-Nov-2013

Well said, Bob. Somebody give this man a drink!

Iman 11:21 pm, 23-Nov-2013

Bob ..sometimes art has to look like "shit" in order to make its point..understand the concept of artistic expression..

John Doe 11:38 pm, 23-Nov-2013

@Bob He did it all on purpose to make stupid people like you mad. If he did everything the way you'd expect it to be executed do you really think he'd get the same publicity as he did this way? Ordinary is boring and Kanye is learning to master the media and use it to his advantage. By getting so mad you kinda justify Kanye's way of approach

Megan 5:37 am, 24-Nov-2013

It doesn't really matter how good or bad the video is, the song isn't very good. It's actually terrible.

SpeshK 11:16 am, 24-Nov-2013

I think the biggest misstep was casting kim kardashian in the video. It's obvious that the imagery and the cheez factor were trying to communicate something, but delivery fell flat. Everyone's gonna miss your point when you cast your vapid hustler of a fiance in your video. It's what took the video from kitschy to ridiculous. Yeezy's message always gets lost in translation because he's really not as deep as he thinks he is. He's a provocateur and a good one at that. Maybe that's a good enough role to have since he's willing to be over the smarter people fill in the details of the broad strokes he paints.

CBG 7:20 pm, 24-Nov-2013

Kanye being a wealthy man is the only real excuse you give for the video being "shoddy" which I not only find hilarious, but a perfect example of how this "art" of his is utterly worthless. If you have to fall back on your perceived wealth to defend your work, then you've done something very wrong.

NF 7:49 pm, 24-Nov-2013

The shittyness of the quality of the video is in direct contrast to these glorified American ideals. They are shallow. The green screen and overt tackiness, the clear cut fakeness, represents the reality of these American cultural representations and virtues. They are all shallow. I think even using his fiancé, who is the epitome of this culture, really brought the point home.

Walt 9:57 pm, 24-Nov-2013

Nope. He's just an idiot...

gm 1:32 am, 25-Nov-2013

wow, i literally read this same exact analysis on a reddit thread a few days ago. I hope you're the one who posted the comment and aren't just taking this and claiming it as your own.

Ange 9:13 am, 25-Nov-2013

So he's tryina break stereotypes by putting Kim in another sex tape, wait, what?

Matt 10:23 am, 25-Nov-2013

Jesus was white? I don't think so!

Liz 11:43 am, 25-Nov-2013

Lol @ some of the people who still don't get it...they just mad that Kanye is bold faced enough to be your face! Lets put it this way (those who think it shoulda been a higher class 'art if that was what he was going for')Vincent Van Gough's work was said to be the same 'shoddy', 'cheesy', 'too childish/child like' that you saying Kanye's art is....yet now after his death his paintings sell at exorbitant prices!!!! Why does everything have to this perfect way? This generation is so limited in its thinking andreally could learn a thing or two from maybe the 60's and 70's....come on people you just mad cause Kanye laughing all the way to the bank while you're stuck in this bubble of midlle classery that society tells you is the 'norm'. Go to school, get a good job, have 2.5 kids.....lol

Jonboy 2:18 pm, 25-Nov-2013

@Liz, You joker. Liking Kanye to Vincent van Gough! HA HA HA. Who is this Van Gough guy you're talking about anyway? I know of a painter from the late 1800's called Van Gogh. Who had his own unique style of painting and thus became recognized? The only thing unique about Kanye is his voice. The way he implements it is pure mimicry. Like all the other wanna be "Artists" Out there these days. Nic Knight shot this video, and it's basically like the film "Snakes on a plane" Proving that if you put someone famous in your video the general fools of popular culture will lap it up and buy into it and throw some kind of Plausible idea that there is some hidden meaning behind the rudimental shiteness of it all. The Video is Shite. The Song is Shite. Maybe the point he's trying to get across is that it doesn't matter what quality you produce if you;re famous, people will justify that it's the most AMAZING thing the world has ever seen. More fool you all. Kanye is a VERY smart man, laughing all the way to the bank, and laughing at all his fans. I like him even more after this.

me 2:56 pm, 25-Nov-2013

you reeeeeaaaaaaaaching lol

Matthew 5:37 pm, 25-Nov-2013

I think you were spot on with this analysis however I think there was something missed here. Countless times we see Kim K facing Kanye while on the dirt bike, she doesn't know where she is going but her trust is FULLY in Kanye. He wants the world to know that the most beautiful white women is submitting to her black king

TL 5:42 pm, 25-Nov-2013

All that you said about Kanye may be true, but the song is still trash. He may have tried to do all the things you discussed but it can't make the music any more enjoyable. The lyrics are lazy and the delivery was 2nd rate.

Wayne Jones 8:34 pm, 25-Nov-2013

Nobody cares anything for Kanye or his Bitch

Toni 8:53 pm, 25-Nov-2013

Hmmm... how can I put this as simply as possible? Kanye is terrible. Simply terrible. I think anyone who listens to hiphop will agree.

Patrick 9:12 pm, 25-Nov-2013

baffling.....the video is horrible. I get it that people think that is the stupid shit white people are into but that itself is a stereotype. Trying to "flip the script" is the same as fighting racism with racism. The fact that this man is perceived as a role model is sad. Your article is well written but it does not make his actions "right". If anything this just pigeon holes the rapper into a west coast persona trying desperately to stay atop his soap box so that he can "spit venom". If he wants to be a political figure, then give up music. People listen to music for entertainment. That is all you are. An entertainer. The fact that you are worshipped and paid ludicrous amounts of money is a flaw of humanity. The culture's worship and desire for approval of pop stars and celebrities has been a problem since before the Beatles thought they were bigger than Jesus.

oflow 9:44 pm, 25-Nov-2013

A more accurate portrayal of Kanye: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/kanye-west-hates-fashion?src=spr_FBPAGE&spr_id=1456_32857426 This whole line of thinking is just buying into West's line of BS. Hes a snake oil salesman pure and simple. He sells black rage to a white audience that believes his nonsense to justify their own PC insecurities about race, when hes complaining about issues that dont really even effect him because hes rich. The worst thing about it is he knows what hes selling is BS and so do the people in the community hes supposedly speaking for but gets offended when people dont buy it. And if you dont understand what I mean, go tell your black grandmother that actually lived thru segregation that you are Jesus and see what happens.

africanman 11:50 pm, 25-Nov-2013

thanks for breaking it down because I, myself rejected the concept until now. Everything in the video is perfect and belongs there from the beautiful nature, mountains, to beautiful woman BUT that damn raggedy black man just doesn't belong! in other words black man doesn't deserve what a white man might consider the beauty of life. I get it!

taona 12:11 am, 26-Nov-2013

This gives a different viewpoin ton the whole issue. http://thatgirlreadallaboutit.blogspot.co.uk/

Ava 1:00 am, 26-Nov-2013

Good article. The only thing that confuses me though is, if his purpose was to reveal these truths about the ideas we are being sold, then why cast his fiance in the video? What message is he trying to provoke? What is he saying about her?

Harkiret 2:02 am, 26-Nov-2013

You lost me at "Black Skinheads." If you had actually listened to the album, you'd know what it's called. Also, great job on your so called 'critical analysis, even though all your ideas are stolen from a 4chan post thats been circulating the internet for the last few days.

Euan Fryer 8:45 am, 26-Nov-2013

The video is designed to be paper thin to echo like the American fantasy its portraying. Scathing Genius.

Arno Inen 10:18 am, 26-Nov-2013

However...it will not be interpreted as such and will go down history as just a crappy video. Even with the Degeneres folk.

r2g2 2:14 pm, 26-Nov-2013

Look! The emperor's new clothes! Kanye jumped the shark.

Boy 2:18 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I thought the song sucked, what's the explanation about that?

Jayna 3:00 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I was actually pretty impressed by this article, but constantly distracted by the fact that the author does not use paragraphs. Did the internet kill paragraphs too?

Jayna 3:03 pm, 26-Nov-2013

(never mind it was just the page displaying improperly weird sorry!)

JR 3:34 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I wish I didn't have to try anymore, could release a shitty product and have people run to the internet to justify how genius I am because the unwashed masses "don't get it". That's the American Dream right there. Video sucks, song sucks, Kanye sucks, Kim K sucks.

Chris 4:08 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I wish Kanye had worked as hard on this video as the author did rationalizing it. What's the point of parody if no one actually gets it? This is why Sacha Baron Cohen's movie "Borat" was so good - it mocked American entitlement in a way that was entertaining and understandable. We were elevated by his take-down of us. This video fails to do what Borat did brilliantly.

melanie 5:58 pm, 26-Nov-2013

Loved this analysis

cstar 6:02 pm, 26-Nov-2013

"step back, can't get spunk on the mink." "You ever ask your bitch for other bitches" Kanye is a hack, perpetuating the myths of money and power and cockpower and oppression of women. He wasn't subverting anything with this video, he was buying into it, and putting his trophy wife up on the mantle piece for all to see at the same time.

Robin Cannon 6:22 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I always find it amusing when we reach the "you just don't understand his genius" justifications for when an artist releases something awful.

Rob 6:28 pm, 26-Nov-2013

Oh yes, he's doing SO much for these causes he symbolizes in his music videos. The fact that it takes a couple weeks for someone to decode it, reveal it, and people still think it's ridiculous anyway, means the delivery sucked. No one got the point, so Kanye failed. It's Kanye just doing his thing...being an ass. This guy isn't a genius. He's just another douchebag with a microphone stuck playing the race card.

Leo 6:36 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I guess I am among those who were wired by their parents not to understand Kanye, because I consider him to be a talentless hack who can't hold the jock of Tupac, Ice Cube, NWA, Naughty by Nature, or Eminem.

James 6:47 pm, 26-Nov-2013

People really must love Kanye. As sad as it is to say, Lil' wayne is truly more lyrically talented than Kanye, but everyone seems to be like "No, look deeper". We shouldn't have to have the artist himself explain his "intent" behind a music video or song for anyone to understand it. If Lil' Wayne would stop rapping about irrelevant junk, he could have more influence than Kanye. (I don't like either). I'm with you JR: I wish I could just make some song, give it some faked intellectual meaning and make millions. Would make my life easier. People need to stop rationalizing and analyzing dry music. There's nothing more to be said than what he said in this song and it's ridiculous that people try and take it to this level.

xin 7:35 pm, 26-Nov-2013

painfully small letters to read. I don't see the video as stereotype at all. american stereotype is all americans are stupid and fat and there are lot of ghettos everywhere. If you go into a ghetto area, chance of getting shot is 70%. mountains water are all over the world and white stallions only appear in movies. Kim is fat so i guess that's good. but the song just blows balls.

NG 8:05 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I used to live in an apartment that wouldn't allow me to paint the walls. I was itching for some color so I took an old giant furniture store painting that I had, and painted over it in red. While I was moving it back into the apartment, it hit the fan and smudged the corner...A few years later, I had the red painting hanging over my fireplace. A friend of a friend came over to my home and commented on my amazing grasp of color and the use of dark and light shades on the painting. He also asked me about the meaning and purpose behind the light whisps of paint in the corner...Sometimes the beholder breaths meaning into an otherwise pointless artform.

Joe 8:21 pm, 26-Nov-2013

That's the worst song I've ever heard. Nevermind the terrible video that goes along with it. Motherfucker can't even sing.

Dashing 8:33 pm, 26-Nov-2013

This article was spot on. In a recent interview, Kanye confirmed as much. Check it out here: http://pigeonsandplanes.com/2013/11/kanye-west-reacts-told-yeezus-wack-explains-bound-2-video-power-105/ And it sounds like it was intentionally cheesy.

Chef 9:05 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I really would like to hear someone explain the song itself as good art. I know Kanye can make well composed music but I'm just not hearing it here. He just samples two songs in different keys and slaps a really obnoxious "uh huh honey" in between. If feels so so lazy from a dude who by all accounts is not. Is there some clue what he's going for in the source material? Is this him trying to make white men hate white people stuff by deliberately making it sound bad? Does this fit into his catalog in some specific way?

Nick 9:24 pm, 26-Nov-2013

I swear people read into things far too much and believe there are hidden agendas tucked away. I really did try to understand this videoclip but the overpowering stench of faeces from both the song and video clip got in my way.

Robert Morris 10:03 pm, 26-Nov-2013

Please. Noticing the intentional shittiness of the video is not clever. The 'joke' was obvious. The problem was that the video wasn't entertaining.

christian 10:25 pm, 26-Nov-2013

Kenye paid someone to figure out a way to make this ridiculous video make sense..he did not expect all the negativity that it has received..the video is cheap, the song is ridiculous. Hes embarrassed because everyone is laughing at this!! Kim stated that the parody was so funny..i guarantee you she nor kenye thought it was funny! another thing..kenye is far from godlike..God is a loving god and peaceful god..Kenye is a hateful, angry man..A very dark soul..he is not "fooling" anyone!

LC 11:34 pm, 26-Nov-2013

What you say is true , but I seriously still think the video is a "visual faillure"

theamysliger 11:42 pm, 26-Nov-2013

Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Is this the Onion? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Pat 12:06 am, 27-Nov-2013

Realise is where I stopped reading.

GW 12:47 am, 27-Nov-2013

Considering talk shows flash signs that say applause, I doubt its a true reflection of the masses opinion. I like rap, have since I was a kid, and Im white. And I was born in 1984. I grew up in an urban area and was the only white kid on my football and baseball team. Why does Kanye West have to change my image of Black Americans. I have a favorable opionion of black people. My family didn't own slaves and Kanye's immediate family wasnt slaves. So why keep around all the racial hate? Yeah white people fucked up in the past, but saying fuck you to all white people now doesnt get even. I dont wear $2000 jackets and I dont care if you do. Kanye's got a serious case of meggalomania and paranoia to think hes the messiah of some message. Hes a fucking rapper who couldnt hold his predecessors dick. Only in America can someone whose the daughter of OJ's 15th lawyer be famous and have a career for being a slut

Jason 1:21 am, 27-Nov-2013

I agree for the most part with this analysis. However, the it is incomplete because it failed to recognize the primacy of design not only in Kanye's creative process but also as a central tenant in his philosophy of life. His postmodern deconstruction and interpretation of culture, art, and literary criticism (i.e. via his lyrics) hinges on the importance of minimalist and clean design of everything: culture, art, fashion, etc..

My Own Two Cents 1:23 am, 27-Nov-2013

I get that this was an introspective analysis and it is great. I really take this article in same step as an argument playing devils advocate. As much as we hate to say it and admit it to ourselves we are a product of our society, of which we are required and looked at strangely if we do not operate within it sets norms. Calling yourself Jesus/ Yezus or "God" is not appropriate no matter the reasoning. Intentions may be good but the real criticism i have of most of kanye west art is the execution. It shoddy/ lackluster at best and just offensive most of the time. It really reads of like a toddler stomping his feet saying" But Why! Why cant I?" It might be valid question and quite frankly a very pointed one, but i think it okay for America... actually, the world much like a parent to answer "because" and leave it at that! My personal opinion of kanye west is that his meaning often are to peppered with his know it all attitude, conceit and arrogance to really be looked at for the gems that they are. Its a shame really the fundamental concepts deeply hidden in whatever videos/ interviews that he creates are really ones that African Americans should really begin to introspect.

bob wilson 1:49 am, 27-Nov-2013

Kanye deserves a good ribbing because he almost single-handedly made that horrible vocoder crap popular. Read: FAKE robotic voices. Now he comes out with this fake-ass cheesy video. So... uh... if he wants to come real wit' 'it as he did so long ago with Jesus Walks, I'm sure people won't be dying to make fun of him. Until then, he deserves all the mockery the jesters of the land can drum up.

Jordan 4:21 am, 27-Nov-2013

This is a great article. I'm more of a fan of Kanye's older albums. And yes, I'm white. I just personally hate stereotypes and racism or any prejudice in general. This isn't me copping out, I literally just can't understand why people can't all just be cool with each other. That being said, I can appreciate that he's an artist and has deeper meaning in things he does. I can also appreciate that (I'm pretty sure) this is your interpretation of the video and not necessarily exactly what Kanye has said word for word. So, I guess to cut to the chase - if people need to read an article like this to understand what he's going for, then almost all of the people that watch MTV/VH1/BET/Fuse and even that great channel (sarcasm) E!, and wherever else his video is played, will have a hard time understanding it at all. Today's youth is more interested in the fact that he's buying $20000 jackets, not what's on the back of it or what the meaning behind the design is. These are the same kids going around knocking people out on sidewalks for fun, and taking videos of themselves twerking and bragging about doing mollie. We're all screwed. All I ask for is a good beat to nod my head to when I'm driving.

KINA 5:11 am, 27-Nov-2013

Did you really just say "re-appropriate the most culturally recognizable white figure in America" in reference to Jesus? See that's the real brain washing right there, The bible clearly states that Jesus had dark skin and hair like wool! So why does America depict him as fair skin blonde hair blue eyes. Stop playing !!!! Some how America boastfully points out that the bible says homos are a abomination but conveniently stumbles over the race of Jesus.... Oh no yall could never praise a Black Man. I'm over this insanity.

jakey 5:39 am, 27-Nov-2013

"By naming his album Yeezus and having a song titled “I am a God”, West is attempting to re-appropriate the most culturally recognisable white figure in the world"- I don't know about that. White patriarchy made god in its image, and the writer's assertion is a stretch, as are a lot made in the article. That tends to be how this kind of article is though. The original video is probably re-appropriating white/North American iconic imagery and the parody video is appropriating the re-appropriated with a different set of marginalized characters - except that the parody isn't really about the marginalization of gay people it's about two bros making out and that being funny. Maybe the parody video points out objectification of women but not race, and the original points out race but not objectification - I don't know. I think Kanye's video is meant to be ironic and the parody is meant to be more ironic, and I don't think Kanye is well known for being a feminist.

farts 6:04 am, 27-Nov-2013

see south park. Explains more than you do and more succinctly. Video and "music" are stupid. Don't read too much into crap. It's crap. Crap in a tuxedo.... is crap.

Bobby 6:22 am, 27-Nov-2013

Very well written... but well written with great points doesn't change the fact that this video is complete and total garbage. If you want to send a message, you don't put half the video on Kim's tits. I applaud you for digging deep... but you are digging deep in a pile of poop man. There are way better places to dig that would actually be worth such sound analysis.

bobdole 10:39 am, 27-Nov-2013

so because its purposely bad everyone who thinks it's actually bad is wrong.

John Milton Wesley 12:01 pm, 27-Nov-2013

Kanye West's obsession with himself and whiteness is fueling a personal implosion, that will play itself out in the public arena, as a tragic comedy.

John Rowlands 2:50 pm, 27-Nov-2013

Next we will see Jews 'appropriating' the swastika and putting it on t-shirts. What an idiot Kanye is!

RebeccaSTL 4:44 pm, 27-Nov-2013

Music is an outlet and Kanye uses that to his fullest capability. He is truly a master at his art. What good would it be for a artist to be limited? As you were Kanye and the author of this article. Well done.

doe 6:50 pm, 27-Nov-2013

As far as I see it Kanye is just like anyone else who uses anything to get ontop and to seek attention. hes an insecure man. Only insecure do what kanyes does. hes still childish and needs an adult spanking. Kanye is wack and has always been wack.

jon 9:01 pm, 27-Nov-2013

Nah, i think you give way too much credit to mr west here. This video IMO is just about 2 airhead, self important, arrogant eedgits whose world revolves around themselves. We cant stop kanye from thinking he is God. Thats fine. Its his choice to think he is god, heck he even allows us to laugh at him...But why cant he go away and be god somewhere else and why are people paying this guy ridiculous amounts of money to play the part of God?? I think he is just a very Racist little man who has gotten seriously finacially lucky in life (without much talent) but his hate the white man chip on shoulder is sooo last century and sooo boring. We all just trying to get by, best we can but we all have to suffer "God" trying and failng to stir up shit. To much money and time on his hands that God has. Go and get a real job like the rest of us with a "Real" paycheck and then see how much time and motivation God West has got to play God

Trav 10:02 pm, 27-Nov-2013

The fact of the matter is, if everyone is so convinced this is some kind of artistic expression.....THE WHOLE SONG IS RIPPED OFF....I mean come on people....YOU CANT JUST RAP OVER OLD MUSIC....FUCK! BE ORIGINAL

Trey 12:07 am, 28-Nov-2013

"Beaming from ear to ear once the video had premiered on Ellen to rapturous applause, West knew he’d succeeded." This line can't be serious. You do realize that the people in the studio audience MUST applaud when directed to do so? Tickets to shows like Ellen, Jay Leno, etc. are given out for FREE to those who sign up for them. One of the only jobs of the audience members is to applaud when one of the stage directors says so. So while you may believe that Kanye is feeling great because people are applauding him on this show, please keep in mind that they also would have applauded a turtle taking a poop on stage if they were directed to do so. Don't be so gullible.

Anita 1:30 pm, 28-Nov-2013

Too bad the song is absolutely horrible.

yu 3:03 pm, 28-Nov-2013

The video is not that back.. Is it not imminent that what the video delivers is exactly what he wanted. Non costly, absract and purposely lured towards doing something "mixed"? Substitute Kanye with a Caucasian artist in the video.... Now is that video ok?... And that was his point. Hence YEZZUS

yu 3:06 pm, 28-Nov-2013

The video is not that BAD...

mattinacan 3:40 pm, 28-Nov-2013

you are reading way too much into this, Kanye isn't that smart, he's just doing whatever will incite a conversation, and it sounds horrible. hasn't had a good album in years.

Truth 4:38 pm, 28-Nov-2013

Does anyone leaving these comments have as much money as Kanye ? Case and point , he can do what he wants.

Chris 5:21 pm, 28-Nov-2013

This article clearly plagarises a post on 4Chan that was heavily circulated and predates this article - as someone else has mentioned. http://www.reddit.com/r/hiphopheads/comments/1r2y4j/a_4chan_post_that_explains_kanyes_bound_2_music/ Example Paragraph from Reddit. This video presents some of the most stereotypical, if not corny american stereotypes. The desert. The galloping stallions. The beautiful woman. The soft porn. The lone ranger riding his motorcycle into the sunset. And it is all presented in such a simple and uninspiring way that it is almost a mockery of these things. The only thing not stereo typically american here, is the fact that the lone ranger is black. So why is Kanye doing this? Well it is pretty simple, he is taking White American culture, and he is replacing it with a Black skin head. This is essentially an aggressive cultural takeover that the average person probably doesn't even realise is happening. Why else would he debut the video on the Ellen show? It is a white american talk show, with a white american demographic. This man is literally destroying white american stereotypes by making them revolve around him. The funniest part is, hardly anyone realises it. Oh and who is white america's favourite white person? Jesus. Im sure you all get where im going with this. Corresponding ideas in this article: We are first shown the easily recognisable landscapes of North America, with mountains, canyons and deserts. Next come the beautiful white stallions, the lone male figure riding off into the sunset and finally the beautiful woman. The only aspect of West’s video not associated, as being stereotypically American is the rapper’s presence itself. The fact that Kanye chose to premiere his video on Ellen, a TV show with an overwhelmingly white demographic isn’t a coincidence either. West is actively striving to break down white American stereotypes by making the average white American confront his integrated versions of them.

Hari 7:44 pm, 28-Nov-2013

To Chris & others who've highlighted said reddit article to which I've now been made fully aware, There has been no plagiarism of anyone's work. I do not hold claim to these ideas/readings of Kanye's work, many clearly agree with me and the post you've highlighted is proof of that; no doubt many more think we're incorrect. We've made very similar chronological readings of the video and even used similar (yet the only appropriate) terminology when referring to incidents within the video in a linear order. My article however, and the foundations I built it upon derived from my reading of Kanye's extensive interview with Zane Lowe and his recent media appearances in the US. As a Film graduate who's spent the past 3 years studying/analysing film footage through a variety of different theoretical filters it doesn't surprise me that others have formed a similar reading, it only pleases me. I wrote this article for free, iny own time and out of my own interest in Kanye, his hypocrisy and his creative process. I made extensive notes and debated the merits of the article with friends and family. I would stand to gain nothing from an ill judged attempt at plagiarism and would never undergo the process of stealing someone's intellectual property. The video is a piece of artistic creation designed to be consumed subjectively and whilst I'm glad that others have the same ideas, for which they should receive just as much attention , I'm not prepared to be insulted. This is merely an opinion piece, as is the reddit article I've been made readily aware of. I've discussed all of this with my editor and this will be my onlyvcomment on it. To everyone else who's taken the time to read/denounce/enjoy my article, thank you and I urge you all to realise that plenty had the same experience when consuming the video and plenty more will continue to reach different and equally valid conclusions. Cheers Hari

kjacks 10:03 pm, 28-Nov-2013

so... the franco/rogen shot-for-shot remake is then, what, a parody of a parody? a parody of the white voice's reclamation of its own tropes? no. it's just funny. just as the original video is lazy, and the song itself rather dull. in fact the franco/rogen pardoy works in virtue of how stupid the original is -- there's nothing deep going on here. kanye's version isn't even parody, it's a vapid stylistic conceit. methinks hari sethi is overinterpretting, and that this can be verified by how considering how thin his argument is.

i 11:26 pm, 28-Nov-2013

KITSCH

owen 10:01 pm, 29-Nov-2013

Best article ever!

Sarah 6:40 am, 30-Nov-2013

I don't see how the video is aimed to white culture, but that's an interesting point of view I guess...

NIno 9:35 pm, 1-Dec-2013

Thanks for this interesting article. If the rap was actually good, I might say he had something going. But they're not. Like that line with 1 good woman being better than 1000? That's so enlightening, because in the past, I imagined that all women were the same, and that none had anything to offer me. So... I used to be a sexist--and now I'm not! yay Kim! For the other half of the world whose already come to our senses, his rap isn't all that great. He doesn't touch on anything that would heighten to song to the profound. The video was good, but instead of saying, "Wow, that was really a work of art," I'm left saying, "I see what it tried to do there."

cheekypop 10:02 am, 2-Dec-2013

Although the author says "Bound 2 is littered with a variety of the most stereotypical motifs of white American pop culture", the objectification of women is not the sole province of "white American pop culture" - this writer doesn't acknowledge that black American hip-hop and rap culture is ridden with it as well. This is a pretty big flaw in his analysis of the video as a "subversion of racial iconography" - though it is not fatal to the idea that Kanye is about the subversion of society more generally. If we assume it is about racial iconography and ignore the wider issues associateted with appropriating bigoted imagery - then yes, Kanye can appropriate symbols of black oppression, such as the Confederate flag or whatever, if he wants to. But as a man, he cannot use sexist and demeaning imagery of a woman and appropriate it as some "subversion of racial iconography". A woman is not a medium for a man's political message. She, in the end, is still being used by a man - she is not the instigator of this message. If we assume it is about society more generally - Kanye is in no way allowed to appropriate sexist imagery and 'claim it as his own' to subvert it, and own it. He is a man. He cannot own this type of appropriation; it is not his to appropriate - just as I cannot appropriate slurs used towards Aboriginal people. We have a male 'appropriating' sexist imagery, and we are left with an image that panders to the male gaze. Something does not become satirical just because someone says it is. What is wrong with the objectification of women? It is part of a culture that allows women to be used by men: to be considered a means - to men's pleasure, to men's whims, to men's ambitions - and not an ends in themselves. It's about the fallacy of the empowerment movement - how, in most cases, women 'owning' their sexuality and presenting hyper-sexualised images of themselves doesn't actually change or challenge the power imbalances and gender stereotypes at the heart of sexist culture. Where is this type of exposure in this video? What have we learned about shame and the male gaze? What have we learned about male power, about female oppression? Satire isn't a 'just jokes' after presenting an offensive image. All we have here is another image of a girl perfectly primed for male consumption, but now someone is telling me to pretend it is something different.

In Response To Kina 2:47 pm, 4-Dec-2013

Please list citation, chapter and verse, where Jesus is described to be dark skinned and have wool like hair? I believe your theory is just that, a theory. An unfounded one at that. How about this quote from scripture.. Lamentations 4:7 "whiter than milk" in reference to Jesus' skin. Aside from that, Jesus was Jewish.. Have never in my lif encountered and African American Jew.

Jewels 12:14 pm, 8-Dec-2013

This is without a doubt the best article I have read about Bound 2 & I find Kanye's subversion of stereotyping interesting and funny, which also happens to make it hugely engaging and gets pretty much everyone's attention. I haven't bought his album yet and rap isn't really even my thing but I think he is such an innovator in sound and concept. It's his lyrics though! They are so misogynistic. How can they be explained away? I had been led to understand that Kanye supported feminist ideas and I am a feminist. I so badly want this album because I'm addicted to the sounds but just can't stomach the condemning lyrics. Would love to hear others take on this....

Fuzzy Dunlop 4:54 pm, 8-Dec-2013

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are both as shallow as piss on a plate. They deserve each other. Utter garbage.

Cultivation, Please 5:41 pm, 10-Dec-2013

Please people, Stop trying to tell me how special this video/song is, what it means, and how the tiny symbols are so important. The song's first line is "All those other niggas lame and you know it" This is Idiotic writing, and intelligent white people eat it up like it's cake. I don't understand what is soulful or deep about "I wanna fuck you hard on da sink, after that give you something to drink" The writing is pathetic for this song, and sorry to say its very representational of all of Kanye's pathetically overrated work. If the true aim of the video was the stupid steriotypes on the background "horses, landscapes, lone ranger, ect. Why is he screwing Kim Kardashian on a bike? And please don't tell me softcore porn is an "American Steriotype". Even if there is some form of valid point to it, the disrespect he has for humanity, culture, love, and pretty much anything humanity finds special, far outweighs the tiny amount of clever in his songs. Even if he is truly artistic, his vision is detrimental to all american culture and really just needs to be silenced. Modern Hip Hop culture needs to be cultivated from force feeding us ideas of using women, and killing, stealing, robbing, doing drugs, and just being an egotistical asshole. It's really one of the biggest modern contributors to racism in modern america. It also contributes greatly to selfishness, egotism, sexism, violence, depreciation of language, and sexism. So thanks Kanye to helping nobody, damaging society and meanwhile receiving nothing but praise for it. This culture is whack. If we praise the child's destructive behavior, we are in for one hell of an adult.

D71 1:58 am, 11-Dec-2013

While Kanye is indeed an intelligent guy who often thinks outside the box, this vid is not one of those instances. All of a sudden post backlash and mockery he claims it was all intentional? Er, not buying it. This guy is the king of big-mouth island and given that, he would have announced his "brilliant" little social play prior to its release, waiting for early pats on the back... Another clue=who puts their wife (who already has a efffed up rep)in a shit vid that will be misinterpreted? Let us not also forget how crappy the song is. Again, he is a smart guy but this pre-concept is a little above him. I have heard him speak in the press and he reminds me of one of those people who knows the names of the great Authors or Philosophers yet has never actually read the lit. In short, he's not as smart as he would like us to believe he is. And this vid is more proof of that.

lewis Spencer 1:04 pm, 13-Dec-2013

Awesome. Great read.

Wesley De Keirsmaeker 11:13 pm, 18-Dec-2013

Are you all seriously deaf or what? The only thing that came close to sounding close was again totally autotune. The only selling point in this music video would be the side boobs that teenagers would notice. Elvis and Michael are fucking spinning in their grave of disgust of this guy, calling himself an artist.If you put a freaking gorila in front of a microphone you can make exaclty the same song, probably better. As the gorila would have a more enjoyable voice. Or he has the most naive fan base in the world, or he's the best salesman that will ever exist, cause selling this crap is harder than selling salt watter in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Andy 11:20 pm, 19-Dec-2013

Wow... Hari... did you give yourself an aneurysm squeezing out this intellectual turd? Go back to knee-jerk journalism, in this case it would be far more accurate. I'll leave you to decide whether you're sycophantic or merely obsequious.

Nope 5:43 am, 1-Jan-2014

I went back and watched it again to see. I really don't see this video being a commentary on American White Culture. It would be a mind numbingly unpleasant song and video had a white man been dry humping Kim K on the bike. If this was where he was going with this, I'd say it was a juvenile mess. Like a first year student of poetry who thinks everything they write is so edgy and deep, when it's just all so very shallow and cliche. I got the feeling that the video was intentionally bad, and certainly that we'd been had...but in the sense of "I can sell anything to people. Watch this. I'm going to make a train wreck of a song and put it against an even worse music video. I'm such a genius people will eat it up." Sometimes I think the whole Kanye persona is a character and he himself is performance art. It's all just so over the top.

'); DROP TABLE suscribers; -- 8:30 pm, 15-Jan-2014

Is sabotage times powered by John Locke spinning in his grave?

Richie 9:15 am, 22-Jan-2014

I read some "artistic" interpretations of this video.... and honestly, i weep for the society. First, this music and letters are so awful and chaotic, that I cannot even finish the song. (I wouldn't call it song).... In terms of music, letters, meaning... I think is really stupid to say that this has to be discussed. Even if you read carefully the lyrics, you can see the same shit that many other artists have been singing since at least 30 years. "bitches", "sex", "IM YOUR MAN!!".... stupid garbage for stupid people.... Somebody talked about how this video is a parody of "american culture".... For this, i just advice people please get a useful book, a newspaper, and START TO STUDY. America greates power is not motorcycles, or the great canyon, or a beautiful women, or their music, or their consumism.... it is their business and their army (money and business) not a whore exposing their breasts on a motorcycle in top of a stupid man... simulating sex.... this is a not a critique of a society, or its religion, business, economy, or army.... it doesn't have a clear or hidden message.... everybody can make jokes or parodies... not everybody can make a critique that changes or impacts the society. He made a porn/music video to continue being a "celebrity". This video is not important, not for the lyrics, or the music, or even the pictures... kim kardashian is a NOBODY, so basically you just need to download her porno video if you enjoyed her... I agree, this man is a media parasite... he knows how to work it.... bbut it is only because the huge amount of stupid people that decide to pay for this cheap and useless music and presentation. Please, they are children, students, people that needs help, DO NOT GIVE YOUR ATTENTION OR MONEY TO THIS PAIR OF PARASITES, help a elder, give a scholarship...

HypeMachine 12:36 am, 23-Mar-2014

His wife is a gold digging whore who's life is to make as much money as possible doing nothing, creating nothing. She's smart because idiots are making her rich. He's a hypocrite because all he wants is to get paid and his wife is everything he claims to hate (business, money). His music is terrible. His art sucks. He's an entertainer who doesn't entertain = failure.

latrace 6:11 pm, 12-Apr-2014

You guys, Bound 2's green screen effects were clearly intended to be cheesy to help make the statement. Think about Vanilla Ice's movie "Cool As Ice" where he's riding around on his motorcycle with his girl. He's taking a cheesy, iconic white pop culture image and reappropriating it, just like how Vanilla and white kids appropriated hip hop.

kyle 5:44 am, 2-Jun-2014

This article brings up some potentially good points if you give Kanye too much credit. He can't get the last laugh with this song. The video is one thing, but the actual song and the lyrics are TERRIBLE. Forget the video.

Gavin 7:58 pm, 19-Jun-2014

Wow so much hate for this individual. Y'all act like no white person ever created a shitty piece of art. But the second a black guy comes out with an ARTISTIC representation of the American stereotype, all people have to contribute is negative input and it's really disappointing. Trust me, Kanye don't care at all what any of you have to say about his work, he's had an insanely successful career, happily married, and now a father. Y'all can sit here and complain about this and perpetuate negativity in society as much as you want though, you internet addicts... but I still love Yeesus

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