Kanye West's Performance Of Hypermaculinity In Yeezus?

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Kanye West’s album, Yeezus, received much critical review due to its blatant misogynistic and choice lyrics. Even though the intent of his songs was to tackle the oppressive systems towards Black people, he did so using hypermasculinity that was hyper-heterosexual and violent. For example, in “New Slaves,” West talks about how black males are confronted by privately owned white corporations that that seeks to oppress them, but then says “You see there’s leaders and there’s followers/But I’d rather be a d*** than a swallower,” which starkly differs from previous lyrics in the song that were purely about racism. (Battle 92; Shird; West). These lyrics indeed highlight a society where dominance is vital, but it does so with a hypermasculine, sexual …show more content…
In regards to Kanye’s performance of hypermasculinity, I think that the audience would either come to fear or admire the physical qualities he is exemplifying. Admiration, I believe, is very common as African American communities continue to adopt music with hypermasculine lyrics and make it a central part of their identity. However, fear of the same hypermasculine lyrics, and taking them in a literal sense, made lead to a reaction to the Black body where stereotypes are reaffirmed (Collins 153). Another possibility is that Kanye’s performance of masculinity can just be interpreted as an act, as with all music, that just serves an entertainment purpose and so no significance would be given to it. In African American communities and hegemonic communities, there would only be admiration or fear of the Black body which identifies the individual. For example, in African American communities, the strong, “thug” identity in Kanye’s music may resonate with individuals in African American ghettos. They would see it as Kanye challenging the oppressive system with his body and overcoming it even though this perception of a “body” was a creation of the system. Therefore the audience in African American communities would react with support and would be influenced to perform the same type of hypermasculinity, which may or may not lead to more oppression of non-hypermasculine identities. Hegemonic communities would view Kanye’s performance as a threat to themselves and so they would become more suspicious of the Black body. Since fear of the Black body would mean that simply the physical presence of a black person would be enough to cause fear, African Americans may become more subjected to searches and arrests in hegemonic communities. As Collins states, “Racial prolicing is based on…the potential threat caused by African American

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