Culture

Kanye West is too horny for his own good

“I Love It,” his latest single, hits the bottom of a barrel he’s been scraping for a long time.

Culture

Kanye West is too horny for his own good

“I Love It,” his latest single, hits the bottom of a barrel he’s been scraping for a long time.
Culture

Kanye West is too horny for his own good

“I Love It,” his latest single, hits the bottom of a barrel he’s been scraping for a long time.

One of the more perfectly absurd popular recordings of the decade is Kanye West’s “I’m In It,”' a song from his 2013 album Yeezus in which he sincerely details a night of fantasizing sexually about his wife Kim Kardashian and reflects on how horny he’s been throughout his life. The screeching synthesizers and ominous percussion are like something out of Eyes Wide Shut, but the goofily crass and casually offensive lyrics are closer to Van Wilder: He demands sweet-and-sour sauce to accompany sex with an Asian woman, says he’ll put his fist in a black woman “like a civil rights sign,” and alludes to Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “thank God almighty, we are free at last” speech while rapping about unclothing a pair of breasts. Bon Iver is there, for some reason; there’s a double entendre about Michael Douglas’ sex addiction; the next song is a deathly serious track about generational racism that samples “Strange Fruit.”

“I’m In It” is, like many of the best Kanye songs, an egotistical masterstroke meant to give you a window into his increasingly singular celebrity life. Yeezus was his first post-Kim album; despite being one of his generation’s most successful rappers, he was now making music from a new tier of fame and visibility. It was always a politically problematic song to cape for in public — the line about sweet-and-sour sauce can’t really be received with anything but a cringe — but it was a banger at least, and the lyrics did portray a compelling portrait of the commingling heterosexual mania and paranoia experienced by a super famous person. It was an interesting song, if not for the content than for what it told you about Kanye West.

I thought about “I’m In It” when listening to “I Love It,” Kanye’s new collaboration with mumble-rap rabble-rouser Lil Pump that debuted during last week’s PornHub Awards (which Kanye also creatively directed). Kanye only has one verse; most of the song is taken up by Pump monotonously cooing “You’re such a fucking ho, I love it” over a Fisher-Price beat. When the song gets to Kanye, he raps “I’m a sick fuck, I like a quick fuck” five times in a row before talking about how he wants a blow job. “I like hearin' stories, I like that ho shit,” he says, with the randiness of a Penthouse reader. Like bad sex, there’s a lot of exertion before the whole thing is over in two minutes.

The video purports to complicate this: It opens with the comedian Adele Givens reciting a part of a Def Jam Comedy routine about how she refuses to fake orgasms now, before she leads a miniaturized Kanye and Pump, dressed in instantly meme-able, oversized outfits, down a hallway filled with anonymously sexualized mannequins. From the wide-eyed, doofy expressions Kanye and Pump shoot Givens as she looks back with bemusement, their boyish horniness is pretty clearly meant to be a novelty. They’re rapping stupidly about sex, but they’re idiots! Isn’t that fun, or sort of transgressive — to be men so proudly sexual even as they know it makes them kind of dumb? The music and the lyrics alone don’t really signify as much but here they are, telling you that it’s a joke.

This is accompanied a little easier through the presence of 18-year-old Lil Pump, who Kanye has called one of his favorite new artists. Pump is the terror of old school hip-hop heads for his Dada-esque repetition and refusal to enunciate; his signature song, “Gucci Gang,” supposedly has lyrics besides the title, but nobody remembers much else. Like all young people, he draws his power from doing the thing that old people wish he wouldn’t, and then denying responsibility for it.

Kanye, however, is a 41-year-old married father of three, and one of the most famous people in the world. He’s had one-on-one meetings with the presidential form of Donald Trump; he runs an international fashion line. Aging hedonists may insist that 40 is the new 20, but when you’ve accrued a certain measure of experience, “I’m just kidding” isn’t the defense you think it is. And this shitfaced thematic reduction from an artist who has awkwardly but pointedly navigated intersecting dynamics of race, class, power, and sexuality in his music feels pathetic, in a way his music rarely has. Not to be ageist, but watching this old guy rap so crudely about blowjobs is really embarrassing on a visceral level.

Then again: Heterosexuality, especially as considered by straight men, is often embarrassing. A recent Twitter meme about “heterosexual culture” calls out the skewed gender dynamics and cultural repression undergirding the whole nuclear experiment. It’s much easier to keep these feelings under wraps, especially if you are an artist in 2018; “angst about my straight male horniness” is the predominant theme of, like, most 21st century art. But Kanye’s thoughts and observations seem to be regressing, not maturing. That isn’t supposed to happen as artists get older. “I Love It” is at least as horny as “XTCY,” Kanye’s single before this one, in which he raps about wanting to have sex with his in-laws, though this is far more musically devolved. It wouldn’t be wholly surprising to watch him go down the same road. Watching one of the 21st century’s most accomplished popular musicians downgrade to this half-assed provocation may be a bummer, but Kanye’s music has always been about being Kanye. If all he wants in life is to get laid, that’s fair enough; he just shouldn’t be surprised as everyone else stops caring.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated how many kids Kanye has.

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