Kanye West‘s Yeezus is barely a few days old, but it’s already been through the wringer: lavish praise, the inevitable backlash, and, now, a good old-fashioned moral controversy.
West has found himself under attack from a number of charities, including the American Parkinson Disease Foundation and Parkinson’s UK, over a lyric ostensibly poking fun at sufferers of Parkinson’s disease. The neurological disorder, which causes involuntary shakes and tremors, is flippantly referenced on Yeezus opener ‘On Sight’: “A monster about to come alive again / Soon as I pull up and park the Benz / We get this bitch shaking like Parkinson’s”.
APDF vice president Kathryn Whitford has criticised the lyrics as being “distasteful and the product of obvious ignorance”. Tom Palizzi of the Parkinson’s Advisory Council, meanwhile, has written an open letter asking the rapper to meet with him to learn more about the illness. Steve Ford, Chief Executive at charity Parkinson’s UK, has also put out the following statement:
“Kanye West has shown an inexcusable level of stupidity and cruelty towards people living with an incurable condition. Life with Parkinson’s is difficult enough without becoming fodder for insensitive celebrities, who should know better, looking for their next big hit. People with Parkinson’s have to cope with intolerable social discrimination on a daily basis – often to the point where they are afraid to go out in public. This sort of thoughtless, callous comment can only serve to make things even worse for them.”
The criticism follows a number of serious controversies over iffy lyrics from big-name hip-hop artists: Rick Ross found himself dropped by sponsors following a none-too-subtle reference to date rape on Rocko’s ‘U.O.E.N.O’, and Lil Wayne’s facetious reference to murdered civil rights icon Emmett Till on a remix of Future’s ‘Karate Chop’ also caused serious consternation. [via The Independent]
Yesterday, Yeezus featured in FACT’s Second Quarter Report – our rundown of the 20 best albums of the last three months. You can read our verdict on the album here.