Kanye West’s video “New Slaves” was released Friday night as if it were a neighborhood evacuation announcement.
The 4-minute clip was projected onto the side of 66 buildings across the globe in key locations including the Chanel Boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Northwestern University in Chicago, and Bondi Junction in Sydney, among others.
Kanye broke the news via Twitter.
But possibly more surprising is the video's stripped-down nature and the song’s controversial message.
NEW SONG AND VISUAL FROM MY NEW ALBUM BEING PROJECTED TONIGHT ACROSS THE GLOBE ON 66 BUILDINGS, LOCATIONS @ KANYEWEST.COM
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 18, 2013
Like an emotionally charged PSA, the usually flamboyant rapper is captured in a single headshot as he offers one of his typical rants. This time he takes a sociopolitical slant.
As the title suggests, “New Slaves” argues that in many ways today’s African Americans are essentially modern day slaves and face racism.
“My mama was raised in an era when, clean water was only served to the fairer skin,” he rhymes in the song’s opening lyrics.
Kanye raps that African Americans are enslaved by their economic status. Lower class blacks are discriminated against because they are poor, and upper class blacks are expected to spend their riches on Bentley’s, fur coats and diamond chains.
“Y’all throwing contracts at me, you know that n-ggas can’t read. Throw him some Maybach keys, f—k it, c’est la vie. I know that we the new slaves,” he rhymes.
Kanye also disses reporters, threatening to “smash their recorders” and suggests that he may leave the U.S. “I move my family out the country, so you can’t see where I stay,” he raps.
The song has been well received. "some 2pac sh-t right there," one Twitter user wrote. And others add, "sounds soooo goooooodddd," and "I must say that kanye west --->New Slaves go hard."
Hip hop’s focus on materialism has been out of control for way too long, so it’s good to see one of the genre’s biggest names suggest an alternate point of view.
During a London concert in February, Kanye complained of corporations that sign celebrities to lucrative endorsement deals and then censor their content.
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS EXPLICIT LYRICS