The billionaire producer, entrepreneur and designer Kanye West is legendary in hip-hop and has been a mainstay in the culture since he signed with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records in 2002. Following the release of his debut album, College Dropout, West became a superstar and demand for his beats was at an all-time high. However, during the mid-2000s, West began to focus on himself and developed sonically and aesthetically.
In 2007, West released his third studio album, Graduation. Ever since he has been experimenting and pushing the boundaries of hip-hop. However, his 2010 project, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is widely considered his best body of work and rightly so.
Boasting tracks such as ‘All Of The Lights’ and ‘Power,’ the project debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified three times platinum. Unfortunately, one single from the album had its visuals taken off YouTube and banned from the prominent music video channel MTV.
Produced by Kanye West and Patrick Reynolds (Plain Pat), ‘Monster’ was initially released as part of the rapper’s ‘GOOD Friday’ series, for which every week, he unleashed a free download to promote the album. However, the song was eventually released as an official single due to its popularity. The track features Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and the indie folk group Bon Iver.
Upon release, the track’s visuals were compared to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ due to its horror theme. The official video was directed by the renowned British director Jake Nava and got released on June 4th, 2011. The gory and unnerving video drew from various films, including American Psycho and Saw. It also references the Bill Stoneham painting ‘The Hands Resist Him’. However, the inclusion of sexualised corpses and acts of sadism received a huge backlash.
The video was banned from MTV because, according to the channel, it “glorified misogyny and the brutalisation of women.” The video doesn’t feature Bon Iver but sees a range of disturbing images, including figures who have hung themselves, female cannibals feeding on a man’s abdomen, and Nicki Minaj playing a dominatrix.
You can watch the visuals for ‘Monster’ in the video below.