Highly controversial and productive rapper Kanye West tweeted that his new album, purportedly coming this summer, will be titled “Turbo Grafx 16”. The name comes from a video game console, called the TurboGrafx-16, released in 1987 by Hudson Soft and NEC. West had previously tweeted that he would release a new album this summer, despite recently releasing his latest, “The Life of Pablo”, on streaming service Tidal.
West also reflected on his history with video games in subsequent tweets, claiming his favorite game for the TurboGrafx-16 was Blazing Lazers, and remembering playing Super Spy on a Neo Geo at his mother’s house with his friend Mali, a childhood friend and neighbor who was previously mentioned in the song “Drive Slow” from 2005’s Late Registration.
Kanye West’s history with video games, as well as nerd culture, goes pretty far back in his career. Early on, he embraced his image as a “nerd” rapper, wearing oversized glasses, preppy clothing, and making music that, during his first three albums, maintained an overarching “school” them. In 2009, he claimed in an interview with Details magazine that he had worked on creating a video game in the style of “Super Mario Bros.” where the player character was a “giant penis” fighting vaginas, around the age of 12. It’s juvenile, sure, but an undertaking that takes a lot of skill and investment, especially at that age. Most recently, Kanye revealed a trailer for his upcoming game “Only One”, a game that follows his late mother’s ascent into heaven on a unicorn.
Kanye’s most recent tweets were very timely, because they rehumanized him in a time in which he has been criticized for being over-the-top and deliberately and unnecessarily controversial on his Twitter account. Even for his most staunch defenders (myself included) it grew to be too much. I’m hoping that if he sticks to this title (which he may not based on recent precedent), the album will be a way back to the old Kanye, straight out the ‘Go Kanye.