People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has slammed Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) this weekend, after he announced the release of his new single ‘Eazy’ with an Instagram post showcasing the single’s cover art, which consisted of a skinned monkey. The song features long time collaborator The Game, and has also been criticised for potentially threatening his ex-wife’s new lover Pete Davidson, with West rapping lines like: "God saved me from that crash/Just so I can beat Pete Davidson's ass (Who?)."
Both rappers shared the picture on their respective Instagram pages on 13 January, the image captioned by each rapper with: “MY LIFE WAS NEVER EASY”. The posts have now been flagged by Instagram as sensitive content, but the musicians have continued to promote the image since the backlash. The Game even changed his profile picture to the graphic picture of the skinned primate.
When speaking to Billboard, President of PETA Ingrid Newkirk said: “The photo is reminiscent of the monkeys PETA has found, sometimes heads, sometimes hands, sometimes the whole body, in meat markets around the world and it makes it clear that when you remove the fur you can’t miss that there’s a person in there, that they are fellow primates, and do not belong to us to abuse for any purpose – not in laboratories, roadside zoos, movies, or meat markets.”
PETA also posted a tweet stating: “The disturbing image of a skinned monkey that Kanye West shared serves as a reminder that there’s no real difference between humans & other animals. Their lives aren’t easy when we abuse & kill them for food, experiments, clothing, or entertainment.”
The two rappers have a long history of collaboration. The Game first worked with West in 2005, when recording his album The Documentary, and Kanye had producer credits on the track ‘Dreams’. Following the collaboration, they teamed up again in 2006, for the song ‘Wouldn’t Get Far’.
It isn’t the first time that Kanye has been in the midst of controversy regarding PETA. In 2010, his then-girlfriend Amber Rose was targeted for wearing a long fur coat at Paris Fashion Week. Senior Vice President of PETA at the time, Dan Matthews told the Daily Mail: “Kanye can’t help making himself look like an idiot, whether at an awards show or a fashion show,” adding, “He and his girlfriend look like pathetic creatures from a shabby roadside zoo.”
Later, in 2012, the rapper found himself in their firing line after spouting a line in his song ‘Theraflu’, saying: “Tell PETA my mink is draggin’ on the floor.” Matthews once again responded by saying: “What’s draggin’ on the floor is Kanye’s reputation as a man with no empathy for animals or human beings.”
He added: “He’s a great musician but doesn’t seem to have the fashion sense to design anything more than caveman costumes. We keep hoping that one day he’ll find his heart and join evolved style icons—including Russell Simmons, Pink, and Natalie Portman—who have dropped animal skins.”