Walmart Didn’t Separate Kanye & His Phoenix

Walmart has issued a statement about Kanye West’s so-called “banned” album cover artwork, explaining that the rapper never asked the retail chain’s opinion on the release.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the rapper’s fifth studio album, and follow-up to 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak, is set for release Nov. 22.

On Sunday West linked to a photo of the cover artwork along with a tweet that said, “Banned in the USA!!! They don’t want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix!”

Surrounded by a red border, the scandalous painting in question features a sneering, naked black man (Kanye?) holding a green bottle. A nude white woman is shown straddling one of his legs. She has white wings, pointy teeth and a white tail with black polka dots.

“In the ‘70s album covers had actual nudity … It’s so funny that people forget that … Everything has been so commercialized now,” West tweeted. “In all honesty … I really don’t be thinking about Walmart when I make my music or album covers.”

Photo: AP Photo
Yankee Stadium, New York City

He added another thought on the subject, referencing the 1991 album Nevermind.

“So Nirvana can have a naked human being on [their] cover but I can’t have a PAINTING of a monster with no arms and a polka dot tail and wings.”

Walmart issued a statement to Entertainment Weekly on Monday, noting it had not banned the album.

“We’re excited about Kanye West’s new album and we look forward to carrying it in our stores on November 22nd,” the statement said. “As always, it’s our standard practice to carry the edited parental advisory version. We did not reject the cover artwork and it was never presented to us to view.”

Over the weekend a source familiar with the rapper’s discussions with Universal Music Group’s Island Def Jem spoke to the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity about the controversy. The source said the rapper was advised to use an alternate cover but that West “was told if he wanted to do it, the label would stand behind him.” The Times noted that the issue was “whether or not mass-market retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart would carry an album featuring venomous nudes, and one that would no doubt inspire controversy.”

Today West offered an apology of sorts about the artwork, tweeting, “In response to the reaction of my album cover … ‘I’m deeply sorry if I haven’t offended everybody.’”

Click here for Kanye West’s Twitter page and here to view the cover artwork.

Click here for the Entertainment Weekly story.

Click here for the Los Angeles Times story.