|Single by Kanye West|
|from the album Yeezus|
|Released||June 19, 2013|
|Kanye West singles chronology|
"Black Skinhead" (also stylized as "BLKKK SKKKN HEAD") is a song by American rapper Kanye West, from his sixth studio album Yeezus (2013). The song, produced by West and Daft Punk, with additional production by Gesaffelstein, Brodinski, Mike Dean, Lupe Fiasco, No ID, Jack Donoghue and Noah Goldstein.
The song was premiered on the finale of Saturday Night Live, which saw West's performance backed by projected images of snarling dogs and various slogans (including "new slaves" and "not for sale". Although West initially said Yeezus would have no singles, "Black Skinhead" became the first single released from the album after its debut on June 19, 2013 and peaked at number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song's accompanying music video was directed by Nick Knight and features Computer-generated imagery of West, along with interactive options including "screen grabbing" and "making Kanye's voice sound really, really slow".
The song features production by French duo Daft Punk, who worked with West on other singles on Yeezus. The song was also the first song Daft Punk recorded for Yeezus, and originated from unused material the duo recorded for their Grammy Award-winning-Random Access Memories. According to co-producer Mike Dean, the song was almost left off of Yeezus for sounding "too much like a soccer song."
Release and promotion
West performed "Black Skinhead" and "New Slaves" on the May 18, 2013 broadcast of the American sketch comedy television series Saturday Night Live. "Black Skinhead" impacted radio in the United Kingdom on June 19. On June 28, Def Jam Recordings confirmed that it would be serviced to American radio as the first single from Yeezus. The label also revealed that a music video for the song was in production. Following the announcement, "Black Skinhead" was officially released on July 2. Prior to its release as a single, "Black Skinhead" debuted at number 69 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The track also peaked at numbers 21 and 15 respectively on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Rap Songs charts. West was set to perform the song at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, 2013 but ended up performing "Blood on the Leaves" instead. The song was featured in the trailer to the films The Wolf of Wall Street and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. On October 18, 2013, "Black Skinhead" was certified gold by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry of Denmark.
For five months leading up to the single's announcement, West worked on a music video for "Black Skinhead" with photographer Nick Knight. The music video was initially leaked to the Internet on July 8, 2013. Shortly thereafter, West stated that leaked version of the video was incomplete and released without his approval. On July 21, 2013, the final version was officially released as an interactive video on West's website. The interactive portion of the video allows users to control the video's speed down to almost one-sixteenth the normal rate, as well as take screenshots for use in social media platforms. The user's cursor changes to that of a black hand giving the middle finger when interacting with the video. Pitchfork Media noted that apart from interactivity, the video itself is identical to the version that was leaked ahead of release.
The video opens with three figures wearing black conical hoods, reminiscent of those worn by the Ku Klux Klan; their hoods form a black border that envelops most of the screen, while the silhouettes of the outlying cones stay on each end. The primary action of the video takes place in the middle portion of the screen, which is occupied by a shirtless, computer-generated version of West, wearing a long chain and leather pants, who raps the song's lyrics and dances. West appears in various forms: a rough, spiky animatic; a silhouetted model; one whose upper torso save the face is covered in talc; a heavily muscled version; and a nude version with rows of subdermal implants on the shoulders and chest. Interspersed with his figure are several brief flashes of snarling dobermans and other predatory animals.
"Black Skinhead" received universal acclaim from critics, many of whom cited it as one of the best songs on Yeezus. Ray Rahman of Entertainment Weekly cited "Black Skinhead" as one of the album's best songs, describing it as "a galloping punk-rap manifesto". Rolling Stone named "Black Skinhead" the third best song of 2013 saying, "'Ye rapping rabid over an industrial glitter-rock stomp pumped with heavy breathing and Tarzan screams. Next time someone says America is post-race, play 'em this, and watch their head explode." NME named the song the tenth best song of 2013 saying, ""Black Skinhead" was a microcosm of why that's the case: three breathless and almost-punk minutes that covered the central complexes – ego, messiah and persecution - of his dark and twisted psyche."
A remix, featuring singer Miley Cyrus was recorded on August 25, 2013, shortly afterwards the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Producer Mike Will Made It was present during the recording session and added some production to the song. The remix leaked on January 21, 2016, and was revealed to feature Lupe Fiasco (who is featured on the original track) and Travi$ Scott in addition to Cyrus. The track features Cyrus singing a rendition of the hook from Tears for Fears' 1985 song, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" from their album Songs from the Big Chair.
In popular culture
- "Black Skinhead" was featured in the 2016 film Suicide Squad, in a scene that features Floyd Lawton/Deadshot in Belle Reve.
- The song was used in the trailer for Atomic Blonde as a mashup with Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode.
- The track was used in the opening scene for the period drama TV series Underground.
- The single was used in the promo for the 2013 Italian Grand Prix.
|Australia Urban Singles (ARIA)||9|
|Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)||59|
|Belgium Urban (Ultratop Flanders)||24|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||66|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||31|
|South Korea International Singles (Gaon)||6|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||34|
|UK R&B (Official Charts Company)||6|
|US Billboard Hot 100||69|
|US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)||21|
|US Hot Rap Songs (Billboard)||15|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||197|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|United Kingdom||June 19, 2013||Contemporary hit radio||Def Jam|
|United States||July 2, 2013||Urban contemporary radio|
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- "Link" (PDF).
- "British single certifications – Kanye West – Black Skinhead". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 27, 2015. Enter Black Skinhead in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
- "American single certifications – Kanye West – Black Skinhead". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 22, 2015. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- http://riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?resultpage=resultpage=1&table=SEARCH_RESULTS&action=&title=&artist=Kanye%20West&format=&debutLP=&category=&sex=&releaseDate=&requestNo=&type=&level=&label=&company=&certificationDate=&awardDescription=&catalogNo=&aSex=&rec_id=&charField=&gold=&platinum=&multiPlat=&level2=&certDate=&album=&id=&after=&before=&startMonth=1&endMonth=1&startYear=1958&endYear=2012&sort=Artist&perPage=25#[permanent dead link]