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Kanye West Asked for Cover Art to be Banned

Months after Kanye West’s critically acclaimed album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, hit shelves, its cover art is still causing controversy. In an interview with The New Yorker, artist George Condo, who designed all of the covers—including the notorious artwork featuring an armless, white, naked phoenix sitting on the lap of a naked black man holding a bottle—said Mr. West specifically asked for an illustration that would get him in trouble.

A couple of weeks before my first visit to Condo’s studio, Kanye West, the rapper, asked him to do a painting for the cover of his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” writer Calvin Tomkins wrote in his New Yorker story. “West said that he had seen paintings by Condo, and wanted to collaborate with him. According to Condo, he also said that he was looking for ‘something that will be banned.’”

West came to Condo’s studio, where for several hours they listened to tapes of his music, and over the next few days Condo made eight or nine paintings,” the article reads. “Two of them were portraits of West, one in extreme closeup, with mismatched eyes and four sets of teeth. Another showed his head, crowned and decapitated, placed sideways on a white slab, impaled by a sword. There was also a painting of a dyspeptic ballerina in a black tutu, a painting of the crown and the sword by themselves in a grassy landscape, and a lurid scene of a naked black man on a bed, straddled by a naked white female creature with fearsome features, wings, no arms, and a long, spotted tail. West chose that one.

As previously reported, Ye took to his Twitter account back in October to announce that the powers that be did not approve his vision for his forthcoming CD booklet. “Yoooo they banned my album cover,” he wrote that afternoon. Adding, “In all honesty … I really don’t be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers.”

A rep for Walmart denied the allegations. “We’re excited about Kanye West’s new album and we look forward to carrying it in our stores on November 22nd,” a spokesperson said. “As always, it’s our standard practice to carry the edited parental advisory version. We did not reject the cover artwork and it was never presented to us to view.” —Elan Mancini

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