West, 39, debuted the provocative footage during the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in NYC on Sunday, August 26. The video stars singer Teyana Taylor and her real-life boyfriend, Cleveland Cavaliers player Iman Shumpert. All oiled up, 25-year-old Taylor shows off her fit physique in a choreographed, Flashdance-inspired gym routine and takes a steamy shower with Shumpert that’s just too hot to handle.
There are more gasp-worthy scenes too. At one point, Taylor transforms into a cat — complete with a tail. The change launched an investigation on Reddit’s Kanye page, with many assuming that the cat visual was just another way to sexualize the video.
“At the end, Tenaya becomes a cat. She literally becomes p--sy,” one user wrote.
Another viewer suggested that West’s vision was exactly the opposite. “We were sexualizing her the entire video even though she wasn’t showing off, just doing her workout at the gym. Then the shot jarringly switches to an overtly sexual situation which is pretty much soft core porn as a way of saying ‘is this what you wanted?’” the person wrote. “The video purposefully turns you on and then subverts your expectations and questions what you find sexual or why it’s sexy at all. Our feelings fade away.”
Others had a more religious interpretation because of West’s choice to place the cat next to sheep. “The ‘lion and the lamb shall lay down together’ is often cited as a prophecy speaking of a literal utopia on earth to come — a Golden Age — referred to as ‘the Millennium,’” Reddit user FadeToDankness wrote, quoting a website by a pastor named Andrew Corbett. “It is argued that since so many of the prophecies regarding The Christ’s first [appearance] were fulfilled literally, surely such prophecies of a Golden Age will also be fulfilled literally.”
In any case, West’s fans were a bit thrown off by Taylor’s feline look. “Kanye has so much influence and no message. And why is she a cat?” one commenter tweeted. A second noted: “I was cool with the Kanye video but then the sheep at the end and she turned into a cat and I’m like ... So confused.”
West is used to pushing boundaries. He recently released another NSFW music video, “Famous,” which features nude re-creations of stars including Taylor Swift, Anna Wintour, Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, Rihanna and Kardashian’s ex Ray J. The rapper opened up about his artwork during the VMAs on Sunday night.
“It was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV. You know, just to put … the audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump. I mean, like, I put Ray J in it, bro. This is fame, bro!” he told the crowd during his four-minute monologue. “We came over in the same boat. Now we all in the same bed. Well, maybe different boats.”
Watch West’s VMAs appearance in the video above.
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