FYI — Kanye’s “Fade” Video Is About Lil’ Kim
There’s a tail and then there’s a tale.
First, the tail, as a way of introducing our tale: Teyana Taylor, after having channeled Flashdance for the first three minutes or so of Kanye West’s “Fade,” appears at the end of the video with a face resembling that of a cat’s and with a giant cat tail.
Now, the tale: Even though there’s this cat tail, there’s also this face. Yes, it looks like a cat’s face. It also, however, looks to some extent like Lil’ Kim’s face. Lil’ Kim’s face in 2106 resembles to a great deal that of a cat.
Teyana Taylor, star of this video and wearer of this cat/Lil’ Kim face, recently made waves with a tribute to Lil’ Kim at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, a tribute that got Kanye’s eye.
As Teyana Taylor revealed to Vogue today, “It was actually crazy because I was in the studio recording and Kanye came by to the other studio next door to record and asked me to come over real quick. And he was like, ‘Yo, you killed the Lil’ Kim tribute.’”
After they talked, after she returned to her studio, one of his people told her that Kanye wanted her to dance to “Fade” for the video.
Kanye lives in the eye of the storm, married into a family known for their plastic surgery, for their body modifications, for being people that run as fast as they possibly can from what it means to age, from what it means to “fade.”
Kanye has been in the music industry for a decent amount of time, outlasting the brief bursts of fame many of his then peers had, names less and less respected, less and less a part of the conversation, artists that have faded.
This is a man who is able to speak on this subject of fading from a particularly unique perspective, and he does so visually in this music video with authority. I’m not sure what thoughts went through his mind when he had his TV tuned to VH1 and watched Teyana Taylor dressed as a younger Lil’ Kim, what the thing was he wanted to say exactly about fading, and how this new upcoming star would be the perfect vehicle for talking about this, for talking about what it takes not to fade in a world, a hyper-capitalist world, that’s eager to discard you for the next update, the newest car, the next phone, the latest pop star, the what have you.
In Kanye’s imagination, one has to wonder where Lil’ Kim looms, this man now married to another Kim fond of plastic surgery. Does he wonder if the same disregard our culture has for Lil’ Kim these days, the same mean-spirited moral opprobrium meted out by social media voices, the same inevitability of time’s fading effects — if that also awaits his Kim? If that too in the end awaits him?
“Your love is fading.” The chorus is a lament, a lament backed by one of the best dance beats possible. Yes, it’s all fading, our looks, our talents, our romances, our ties that bind us to one another, to even life itself. Every last one them is fading day by day, more and more. There’s nothing you, I, or even Kanye himself can do about it.
So we aren’t left with many other options, other than what that hard beat would have us do: dance. Dance like Teyana Taylor, with absolutely zero fear, zero fucks, and with boundless joy, knowing that the moment is temporary, that yes it will fade, but that’s all the more reason to celebrate it so ecstatically before it does.
And at the end of your own personal music video, when you’re looking out over the world, and you spy a bunch of sheep in front of you, you’ll know that you, just like Lil’ Kim, shined real fucking bright before you faded.