Review: Kanye West – Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft & Joshua Chaplinsky/Donda Listening Party

The fictional character of Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout, was an unsuccessful sci-fi author. The origins of his fabricated misfortune started as a joke from one of Vonnegut’s editors, Knox Burger. Once suggesting that it was much more entertaining to hear the idea or pitch of a science fiction novel rather than actually read the finished book. This comment led to Vonnegut creating the professionally unlucky alter ego.

Naturally, Kilgore Trout’s name was the first to come to mind when discovering Kanye West – Reanimator. I had been searching the Chicago Public Library catalogs for local horror when this title was suggested. The novella was authored in part by H.P. Lovecraft and Joshua Chaplinsky. Admittedly having also started as a joke, Kanye West – Reanimator followed Trout’s formula of sounding better as a concept than as a completed book. Its creation was fittingly an experiment by Chaplinsky. Beginning this reimagining by first swapping out names in Lovecraft’s original texts. Details were updated to reflect the rapper’s personal biography and the classic horror tale clicked into place with hip hop history. Thus, creating a dark comedy that begged to be paired with Kanye West’s tenth studio album, Donda. Released a little over a week after Lovecraft’s 131st birthday.

Written from the point of view of West’s college friend and trusted confidant. The narrator recounts his days under the Yeezy spell as an accessory to morbid crimes against the music industry. Kanye West is fondly remembered by his associate as an eccentric genius turned mad scientist. Obsessed with reanimating a dead genre beyond “cookie-cutter pop and gangsta rap.” Spotify’s most played tracks of Donda synched eerily well with the book’s pacing. The song, “Off The Grid”, echoes in the corners of the abandoned farmhouse where the pair isolate themselves to perform experiments. Flesh meets machine as Kanye literally plugs tracks into corpses. Souls trapped within give birth to unique remixes as the abominations rise from their slab. West waxes hyperbolic of art beyond death with the auto-tuned screams of “God Breathed”. But never satisfied, he seeks out new subjects for experiments to match the success of The College Dropout. Including a run in with head of Roc-A-Fella records, Damon Dash, stealing the ashes of Biggie Smalls and the ever-present beef between West and Jay-Z. The novella’s crescendo is a scene straight from the controversial video for “Monster”. Yet it is the track “24” that delivers poetic justice and the cautionary tale. A discordant church organ unravels the song as Ye faces the consequences of playing god. Wavering confidence as he chants, we gonna be okay.

Kanye West – Reanimator was possibly the only release of Yolo House Publishers, in September of 2015. Consisting of the trio Cameron Pierce, Matthew Revert, and personal favorite, Molly Tanzer. Whether or not you consider yourself a fan of West’s music, his many struggles always manage to find their way into the public consciousness of everyday life. His controversies since the release of Kanye West – Reanimator have certainly eclipsed those that came before. Between West’s questionable political ties, divorce from tabloid queen, continued “shameless pillaging of imagery from Alejandro Jodorowsky”, and setting himself on fire among homophobes and rapists…one can only hope Joshua Chaplinsky will be inspired to resurrect the parallel continuity of the Reanimator sequels.

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