You see it's broke nigga racismThe kicker is that as he is singing that, he's selling his own branded line of $200-plus designer sneakers. West's longtime nickname is "Yeezy" and his shoes, made by Nike ( NKE), are called Air Yeezys. The allure of those pricey kicks among his loyal fans is an important factor in the calculations of this album's marketing campaign. West had a pair on his feet on the stage at "SNL," blurring the line between show and commercial. Now wait -- pop music relies on sales, you say, artists have always shopped themselves to their audiences, like so much commodity. So what's the beef? No beef, at all. Just pointing out there has historically been a Chinese wall between an artist's music and its purely commercial uses. I think West is still firmly on the artist side of that divide, but it's getting to be a tougher call and no denying. Hype for his new album, like most hip-hop records these days, is also pumped by collaborations. Daft Punk, with a new album of its own that I wrote about two weeks ago and Skrillex are said to be among those featured.
That's that "Don't touch anything in the store"
And this rich nigga racism
That's that "Come here, please buy more"
What you want, a Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain?
All you blacks want all the same things
Used to only be niggas now everybody playing
Spending everything on Alexander Wang
Then there's the album's title: "Yeezus." OK, let's all just heave a collective sigh over that one. It's not the first time he's played the great martyr card. West appeared on the cover of the Feb. 9, 2006 Rolling Stone wearing a crown of thorns. Jesus to his fan-disciples, a prophet, a miracle worker victimized by the media, misunderstood by the masses...we get it. But he is an artist, after all. So I say, fair enough. Other people have used the Jesus provocation to sell records: John Lennon, who casually told reporters the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus" and then later, in "The Ballad of John and Yoko," put himself very deliberately in the Christ role. Some people will be offended by the title of "Yeezus;" most will not be, but will recognize the peril inherent in such an association, the potential for inadvertent self-parody not the least.
One of the simplest promotions for "Yeezus" (the album) came ahead of the "SNL" spot from girlfriend Kim Kardashian -- she once so gloriously famous for being famous and now pregnant with West's baby. Kardashian tweeted an Instagram photo last week that you can see here in a retweet by a fan:
.@ kanyewest's Red Air #Yeezy 2s Unveiled By @ kimkardashian + SNL Performances #Yeezus ( upscalehype.com/2013/05/kanye-...) twitter.com/UpscaleHype/st...— UpscaleHype (@UpscaleHype) May 19, 2013As the writer of the above notes, West was wearing those shoes on his "SNL" appearance last week.
The bigger rumor is that with the shoe being limited to 1,000 pairs, Yeezy is putting tickets in his album to get the kicks. #Yeezus— KicksOnFire.com (@kicksonfire) May 30, 2013From a pure marketing perspective, it just doesn't get any better -- so incredibly well played. With coupons for the shoes inside the wrapper of a random number of chocolate bars -- I mean, CDs - people are going to be buying CDs by the dozen. Considering the resale potential of these limited-edition shoes, with CDs at $12 a shot, you could buy 100 and still do very well on your investment. While he pockets something from the retail price, I think it's safe to assume West doesn't usually make any money on the resale. So we have to conclude:
- It's a good marketing gimmick. He's aware that some of his more entrepreneurial fans can make money.