Kanye West Has Tapped Jon Rafman for a Dystopian Trailer Teasing His Forthcoming Album

The clip features fiery scenes of cultists, clowns, and werewolves.

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 03: Rapper Kanye West performs onstage at the Power 106 Powerhouse show at Honda Center on June 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic)

Kanye West has released a trailer for his forthcoming album, Vultures, by the Canadian artist and filmmaker Jon Rafman.

West, 46, released the trailer on his Instagram on January 24, ahead of the release of his upcoming album with Ty Dolla $ign, set to arrive in three parts on February 9, March 8, and April 5.

The visually dark trailer tells the story of an apocalyptic world where hood-wearing cultists, werewolves, and killer clowns seemingly take over and burn a city to the ground as West raps, “How am I antisemitic?” In the song, though not in the teaser, he also raps, “All eyes is on me. Won’t tell no lies, won’t hold my tongue. Don’t cry for me”—apparent criticism of the consequences he has faced after years of controversy.

The rapper’s derailment has been well-documented by entertainment magazines and tabloids since he first interrupted pop star Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. Ahead of his divorce from reality television star Kim Kardashian, his behavior escalated. He wore a controversial “White Lives Matter” shirt at Paris Fashion Week in 2022, and commenced a string of antisemitic posts on Twitter. In one, he wrote that he “can’t be anti-Semitic” because “Black people are actually Jew also.”

His business deals with companies including luxury fashion house Balenciaga were quickly ended. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago later announced that it had rescinded an honorary degree it had awarded to West in 2015, citing “disgusting and condemnable” comments about the Black and Jewish communities.

In 2020, Rafman was accused by three women of alleged sexual misconduct in posts made to the Instagram account @surviving_the_artworld. The allegations caused his Montreal gallery Bradley Ertaskiran to drop him and three museums to suspend or postpone shows of his work. The artist later successfully sued the Montreal Gazette and journalist T’cha Dunlevy for defamation over their coverage of the allegations in three articles. Under a settlement, the stories were removed from the site, with the newspaper apologizing to the artist for not giving “equal time or space to Mr. Rafman to refute the claims against which he had evidence.”

The original allegations on @surviving_the_artworld have been deleted by the three women, with the account now taking a stance in support of the artist. It calls for “Justice for Jon” and decries “libel, slander, and defamation on the web, in the art world, and media.”

Rafman has found success for his films and installations that leverage technology to explore the contemporary consciousness. His 2021 film, Punctured Sky, which used early internet aesthetics to interrogate how online life shapes memory and identity, won him the KNF prize at the 2022 International Film Festival Rotterdam. Most recently, “𝐸𝒷𝓇𝒶𝒽 𝒦𝒹𝒶𝒷𝓇𝒾,” Rafman’s 2023 exhibition at Sprüth Magers, featured his ongoing experiments with text-to-image-algorithms. His work is currently included in the group show, “The Irreplaceable Human” (through April 1), at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

 

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