Kanye West is sick of being censored, apologizes to fans for Billboard Awards

21 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Fuming Kanye West says he was ‘grossly over-censored’ at the Billboard Music Awards and apologises to fans saying ‘unwarranted muting’ ruined performance.

Fans who had hoped to see Kanye West perform “Black Skinhead” and “All Day” at last weekend’s Billboard Music Awards instead got mere blips of those songs peppered wth huge swaths of silence. The biker gang shootout at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” in Waco, Texas, which left nine dead, seems so shocking in part because biker gang violence hasn’t been in the American news much for a few decades.

The famously antagonistic rapper and performer must have sent the show’s production team (and its broadcast partners ABC) reaching for the panic switch with his lyrics in those songs, as the show’s censors bleeped out close to a quarter of his airtime, according to Rolling Stone. But outlaw motorcycle gangs (or, yes, OMGs for short) used to make the headlines with some regularity, especially on the West Coast, starting with the 1947 biker riot in Hollister, California. As a result, his voice and performance were seriously misrepresented.’ He also apologized to fans for the way TV executives cut the audio throughout his on-stage appearance in Las Vegas, claiming the amount of muting of his lyrics was ‘unwarranted.’ ‘It is ridiculous that in 2015, unwarranted censorship is something that artists still have to fight against,’ the statement continued. ‘Although West was clearly set up to face elements beyond his control during the live broadcast, he would like to apologize to the television audience who were unable to enjoy the performance the way he envisioned.’ Kanye had been advertised as one of the main performers of Sunday’s Billboards and many fans had been sat through the two-hour awards show waiting for their idol. Thompson, in Hell’s Angels (1966), and Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, 1968) wrote about the world’s largest OMG, Hells Angels, in mid-1960s California.

By the late 1970s, murders and other crimes had led to the jailing of several biker gang leaders, prompting a shift to more muted, underground criminal enterprises, notably drug trafficking. Their content – which can sometimes be profane, but not overly so by modern hip-hop standards – shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone at the awards show staff or the network, so it’s disappointing they decided to lean on the kill switch even during entirely prosaic lyrics. The Hells Angels and the other three major OMGs — the Outlaws, the Pagans, and the Bandidos, alleged instigators of the Waco shootout — took their bloodshed overseas, with notable flare-ups in Canada, Australia, and Scandinavia.

But probably the craziest story about biker gangs is from the disastrous Altamont Speedway Free Festival, held in December 1969 at a racetrack about 60 miles north of San Francisco. After Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin was knocked out cold by a Hells Angel during the band’s set, the Grateful Dead — co-organizers of the festival — skipped out, fleeing in a helicopter before their scheduled performance. The Angels were drunk and belligerent by evening, and during the Stones’ set, while Mick Jagger was singing “Under My Thumb,” an Angel named Alan Passaro stabbed a gun-wielding concertgoer named Meredith Hunter.

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