Arts and Culture

Who run the world, Kanye?

By Alice Reid and Izabella Staskowski

A new Kanye West Mural has popped up in the Melbourne suburb of Cremorne.

Visible to train commuters between South Yarra and Richmond stations, the large-scale street-art piece by Lushlux reference’s West’s music video Famous, premiered on TIDAL only a few months ago.

This adds to the increasing list of murals in homage to West that have appeared in Australia over the past year, including other Melbourne works by Lushlux including the RIP Taylor Swift Mural in Hosier Lane, the large scale Kim Kardashian Emily Ratajkowski liberated selfie piece in Sniders Lane, and the renown Scott Marsh Kanye loves Kanye piece in Sydney.

Sniders Lane piece

Sniders Lane piece

These murals reflect the obsession Australia has with West as a celebrity, only reinforced by the popularity of his pop-up shop, album sales and online video hits.

West has a lot going for him.

With an estimated networth of $145 million and a marriage to Kim Kardashian that keeps him as a constant fix in the press, he is undoubtedly one of the most influential names globally.

Retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, recently told Business Insider that West is more serious than people give him credit for. “[Kanye] understands the hip-hop culture and he knows how to utilise it to his advantage.”

West does know how to utilise it.

“Role models are, artists and merchants. There’s less than ten that I can name in history. Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West.” West stated in his VMA’s speech last week, which was met with cheers from the audience of musicians.

Many celebrities attempt to project a relatable social image, where they approach fans with the ‘we’re not so different, look at me at the supermarket’ school of relatability. But West has never done this. When he speaks, he speaks with an elevated authority and when he performs, he performs on an elevated platform. Literally.

Kanye West stands on elevated platform during Chicago Tour

Kanye West stands on elevated platform during Chicago Tour

The outlandish sermons in which West has said things such as “I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live” and “when you’re the best, you get hated the most” make him an easy target for hate.

But even if he is being targeted, the saturation and magnitude of his mockery almost works to his advantage.

We laugh when he speaks of being “God’s vessel” or suggests he might run for President next election. But he singlehandedly (with the help of his wife) took down the poster child of lovable, Taylor Swift. His unpredictability and self obsession make him dangerous in a similar way to Donald Trump, through almost populist tactics.

Iconic Hosier Lane in Melbourne

Iconic Hosier Lane in Melbourne

The saturation of West even extends to the censorship of the new mural itself, as the nipples in the piece were painted over with ‘kimoji’s’ – just another element of the West-Kardashian empire. Lushlux told SMH “It had to become a more ‘family friendly’ mural, people seem to get very triggered by nipples these days.”.

The mass infiltration of pop culture on the Australian urban landscape in itself demonstrates the influence of icon’s such as West. You only have to look as far as your train window to see the impact.

“You should only believe about 90 percent of what I say. As a matter of fact, don’t even believe anything that I’m saying at all. I could be completely fucking with you, and the world, the entire time.”

About the author

Izabella Staskowski