Kanye West Proposes to Kim Kardashian, In Song (Sorta)


by Brandon Soderberg
Kanye West & Kim Kardashian
Kanye West & Kim Kardashian

True love, dick jokes, soul samples, and a seemingly sunny future, until further notification

Kanye West's "White Dress," from the upcoming soundtrack to RZA's Man With the Iron Fists, produced by the rapper, as well as the RZA and Chicago's Boogz & Tapez (they co-produced Cruel Summer's "New God Flow") is a touching tribute to girlfriend Kim Kardashian. At least that seems to be the assumption. Kanye, rap's king of over-sharing, mostly steers clear of anything too specific, presenting what sounds more like a savvy, though guarded assessment of his current relationship; It's detailed enough to resonate, but it also feels universal enough to work as just a lived-in, little love song. And it refuses to be idiotically sunny and joy-filled. Reality keeps poking through and screwing things up a little. And you still get dick-joke groaners like, "Rented the whole bottom floor for a candlelit dinner / Turned the lights out and put my candle right in her."

How perfectly Kanye-esque is it that he imagines his future wedding and still mentions little managerial details like one of his aunts not being able to show up? Like, even his dream wedding is punctuated by a few disappointments. And the moment when Kanye mocks his own obsessive neediness when this relationship fell apart the first time ("Now she headed to Rome / Rome is the home / Rome is where she act like she ain't got no fuckin' phone"), is very funny and real. That he concedes blame ("I accept that I was wrong, accept a nigga grown / So I can't bitch and moan in a session, getting' stoned / So a nice had to hope on a plane / A bus and a train to try and talk and explain”) is a nice Louie-like moment of male bullshit finally collapsing. The way he attentively rides the beat while describing the ups and downs, it's as if, through rapping, he's exhibiting his newfound, figured-out sensitivity in real life.

"White Dress" is a celebration of a relationship that's working — for the time being. That it is also something of a wedding proposal, which seems completely insane, is something Kanye's most certainly getting a kick out of. He knows it's nutty. He doesn't care. That's love! Though "White Dress" is a far better song, it seems a bit like Kanye's version of "Glory," Jay-Z's tribute to his newborn daughter. Neither song divulges much detail, but it hinges on keeping up with the gossip blogs to really work, and both turn real human emotions (and real human beings!) into rap lyric fodder, yet still feel sincere. Another comparison point is Jay's "Song Cry," in that “White Dress” also has an elegiac, plane-jumping melodrama to it. But here, Kanye accepts he's the jerk and tries to change. I mean, that Jay song is about how he cheated on a girl, and is now he's mad that she up and left him! What part of the game is that?

The "White Dress" hook is a sweet response to bro-minded hip-hop, where woman with romantic pasts are seen as used-up, and all women are there to be exploited. The line, "Even though I met you in the club in a tight dress / At first sight, in the right dress," knocks over this compartmentalized idea that there are women you get with, and women you marry, and they reside in very different places. Plus, Kim Kardashian's very public romantic past — sex tape with Ray J, reality TV-show wedding that ended almost immediately — hovers around Kanye's saccharine sentiments; but that junk no longer matters.

Nods to College Dropout-style production — though the song seems to sample, then warble Mario's intro vocals on the Game's 2011 song, "All The Way Gone," of all things — makes it clear that Kanye can do these sorts of wobbly, straight-from-the-heart, soul-beats in his sleep. So, when he does return to the style, it's for special occasions. When you consider Kanye's work since The College Dropout, which production-wise, has gotten increasingly dark and almost Wagnerian, while lyrically growing more and more bitter and pissed-off, it's clear that he reverts back to a simpler style when he's got something open-hearted to declare: The victorious, "Success is weird guys, maybe I'll quit," on Late Registration's "Gone"; the attempt to reconcile his contradictions and pointed protest of Chicago street violence from Graduation's "Everything I Am"; the bittersweet break-up track "Devil In a Blue Dress"; the musings on future fatherhood of Watch the Throne's "New Day." Tellingly, nothing on the hopeless 808s & Heartbreak genuflects to early Yeezy beats.

And now, there's "White Dress," a quasi-proposal rap to girlfriend, Kim Kardashian.

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