Varg Vikernes Comments on Kanye West Wearing a Burzum Shirt
Varg Vikernes, the Norwegian musician who influenced black metal as Burzum and is notorious for holding racist and antisemitic views, has responded after the embattled hip-hop artist Kanye West wore a Burzum shirt in a photo.
It was last Friday (Jan. 19) that fellow hip-hop artist JPEGMAFIA posted the photo, actually three pics showing him and West posing alongside each other against a blank background, with Kanye sporting the Burzum shirt and new titanium grills, per XXL.
For Ye fans and onlookers, the garment choice was especially controversial after Kanye had apologized to the Jewish community just last month following a string of blatantly antisemitic activity, the inflammatory behavior the latest turn in the rapper's fall from grace.
As for Vikernes, Varg is a perported former neo-Nazi supporter with a history of violence and hatred. In 1994, he was convicted of murder and arson, serving 15 years in prison. He later reportedly disavowed Nazism, but he still appears to hold xenophobic or racist views, as Metal Injection has reported.
So what did Vikernes think of Kanye's Burzum shirt?
He praised the hip-hop artist for having the "courage" to wear the shirt publicly.
"To all those who want me to speak ill of Kayne [sic] West," Varg said, "No, he is not 'stealing' or 'ripping off' anything I do. As I have written in my book about black metal (see image), it is perfectly normal, natural & fine to be inspired by & to pick up ideas from other 'artists.'"
Varg continued, "Frankly, I think it shows courage to publicly wear a Burzum shirt, like he has done. You risk the wrath (including boycott) of an entire music industry, completely under the control of… 'a certain group.' So kudos to him for that."
Varg added, "How many 'White' artists out there are wearing Burzum t-shirts in public? Makes you think… To those who do though: kudos to you too! I appreciate it."
In 2022, Twitter and Instagram blocked Kanye for antisemitic posts, AP News reported. That same year, the rapper wore a "White Lives Matter" shirt to a fashion show, per CBS News. And Ye was still referencing antisemitic views as of late last year, per Rolling Stone.
Before the Burzum shirt photo, Kanye had already referenced Burzum recently. The reported cover art for Vultures, an upcoming collaborative album between Kanye and Ty Dolla $ign, visually recalls early Burzum covers and features the same font.
Defining and Recognizing Antisemitism and Racism
Antisemitism, a form of racism, is prejudice against or hatred of Jews, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum explains.
Per the Southern Poverty Law Center, parts of the U.S., Scandinavian and Eastern European black metal scenes became vehicles for white supremacist ideas after the genre started in the '80s and bloomed in the '90s. Now, Kanye appears to be using tropes from black metal as a racist dogwhistle.
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Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner