Kanye West's Naked Ambition | NBC Bay Area

Kanye West's Naked Ambition

The rapper's controversial "Famous" video puts him squarely in the Kardashian camp

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    File - Kim Kardashian (L) and Kanye West attend the "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

    Kanye West last month marked the second anniversary of his marriage to Kim Kardashian, whose dubious celebrity exploded in 2007 with the leaking of a sex tape.

    But it wasn't until Friday, with the debut of his controversial video for "Famous," that West cemented his status, for better or worse, as a full-fledged Kardashian Family member.

    The video, featuring nude renderings of various public figures (presumably fakes) and his wife's world-famous behind (presumably in the flesh), offered an unexplained statement about the nature of celebrity. But what came through clearly is that the rap star's biggest influence these days is the Kardashians, whose talent rests in a knack for being famous for being famous.

    That's a mixed bag for West, whose tendencies toward hype and ego ("My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live," he once declared) too often overshadow his standing (over-reliance on Auto-Tune aside) as a major musical force.

    He seems to be in a friendly competition with his over-sharing spouse to "break the Internet." Kanye West, though, out-smashes Kim Kardashian West in one significant respect: He drags a slew of others into the raw picture – including her step-kin Caitlyn Jenner, former President George W. Bush (whom he slammed over the handling of Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago) and Bill Cosby (whom he defended in a tweet earlier this year).

    But the primary focus of the chatter spurred by the video is Taylor Swift, already reportedly upset over the song, in which West claims credit for her success, calls her the B-word and proclaims the duo “might still have sex” (he says she approved the line, but she says that’s not the case).

    West, of course, stormed the stage in 2009 while Swift collected an MTV Video Music Award in his bizarre attempt to avenge Beyoncé’s loss.

    Yeezus might want to take a close look at Beyoncé’s recent album/film “Lemonade,” which tackles celebrity in a more substantive, mature and probably lasting fashion.

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    For West’s strange video bedfellows, the price of "Famous" remains uncertain. For the rapper, the running total undoubtedly will include the cost of keeping up with his less artistically inclined wife and in-laws.

    Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.