The accompanying video comes from artist Arthur Jafa.
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In his new song “Wash Us in the Blood,” Kanye West makes reference to a being I’m not sure we’ve ever properly met: “They wanna sign a fake Kanye / they tryna sign a CalmYe.” Calmness might not crack the top 100 reasons Kanye’s fans love and adore him. Yes, his hyperactivity has occasionally gotten him into trouble—but it is also the source of his success. For most people, announcing a 10-year partnership with mall stalwart Gap would be more than enough work for a week. Kanye’s already on to the next thing—in this case, the brand-new album God’s Country, led by the release of its lead single “Wash Us in the Blood.”
Originally teased in GQ as a track “with hard drums and Yeezus-like industrial horror noises,” “Wash Us in the Blood” lives up to that billing. The song takes the sounds of 2013-era Kanye and adds Kanye-circa-now religious content and imagery into the equation, along with an ad lib–filled guest verse from Travis Scott, who uses his brief appearance to make an indictment of the death penalty. The song is mixed by Dr. Dre, who is also taking a stab at reworking all of last year’s Jesus Is King.
“Wash Us in the Blood” also arrives with a video directed by the visual artist Arthur Jafa. The video is mostly a split-screen experience, splicing digitally rendered images of Kanye together with clips of protests, people dancing, cars doughnut-ing, and scenes from what appears to be the video game Grand Theft Auto V. The video ends zoomed into the face of Kanye’s daughter North at a rehearsal for the rapper’s Sunday Service. Jafa’s video also incorporates footage of Ahmaud Arbery, and starts off with a clip of one police officer berating another at what appears to be a Black Lives Matter rally. Kanye famously always works on everything up until the last minute—even tinkering with some albums after they’ve been released—and here it works to his advantage: The video contains more than a few of the indelible images that have spurred our current protest moment.