Fuck sex tapes with their significant others, how much would you pay to watch a video of Future and Ye’s studio session? What do Nayvadius Cash and Grand Vizier Kanye Omari West talk about when the two of them are alone. Mind control? Inter-galactic space travel? The last decade of Maxim’s 100 Hottest babes list’s mapped in a power-point presentation that traces the evolution of the female form? Did they mock Drake? Did Kanye only fuck with Future after he had a piece in Details? Or did they just smoke blunts and play Mario Kart on a Neo-Super Famicom that Kanye had encrusted with diamonds even though it won’t be released to the public until 2016. We may never know.
This song has already been dissected ad nauseum from thinkpieces to Gifs because a) it’s a song from Kanye and Future b) it’s problematic, mildly hilarious and completely gross and c) we live on the Internet. As a piece of music, it’s merely fine. Future songs typically come in two types: romantic sad robot ballads that quickly veer into endearing narcissism or bando-stomping spazz outs where his flow wriggles like a piranha caught on a line. Both are frequently great and approaching formulaic. This is the former. Future just being honest where he equates Ciara to winning a Big Kahuna Trophy at Summer Camp. As everyone else has previously pointed out, there’s something sweet and romantic about these gushing declarations of love. I’d offer the caveat that it makes it much less romantic when the love is being equated to a possession that you win for merely being awesome at life. This isn’t giddiness that comes from finally connecting with someone, this is straight-up gloating.
What’s off-putting is how the ideas displayed are basically those of a French aristocrat exercising seigneurial rights. It’s more than old-fashioned, it’s practically feudal. Rap might be moving into it’s monogamish phase, but this song is less of a declaration of love than an end-zone celebration. Kanye makes that clear by analogizing sex with Kim Kardashian to the Super Bowl. The idea of the trophy wife would ostensibly be the sort of idea left to balding middle-aged white men who smoke cigars, play golf, and use the word “fiddle” as a euphemism for fucking. What’s frustrating about “I Won” is that Kanye and Future adopt this without letting on any sense of irony. When Future says “I got you in custody,” it’s one step away from the attitude that Ibsen chastised a century ago in A Doll’s House.
Let’s be clear: the people hating on Kanye for dating Kim Kardashian are as foolish as the people who try to make her out to be Marilyn Monroe. She’s this generation’s Mamie Van Doren or if she’s lucky, Jayne Mansfield. (Scarlet Johannson is probably our Marilyn Monroe, which is another troubling debate for a different time). There’s something goofy and vaguely charming about his love for Kim and for a man who has spent the last few years feebly perfecting his ice-grill, it’s nice to see him in love. He is basically Garth and she is basically Donna Dixon and it’s not unthinkable to imagine that Ye wooed her with his “Foxy Lady” dance. After all, they are both from Illinois and inevitably enjoy Mikita’s donuts.
The best part about this song is the unintentional comedy. Kanye with his dead-serious lines about giving Kim “pipe” on the motorcycle in the “Bound 2” video, giving her diamonds, talking about angels in the ultra-sound. He can’t conceive of a world in which he isn’t divinity. It’s a source of his strength, but his gnawing limitations were one of the chief things that made him endearing. His attitude went from contradictory to all-conquering monarch. The two of these guys won a long time ago. They deserve it. But a song like this doesn’t explain why they’re the victors, as much as it exposes their vanity.