‘Kanye West – Reanimator’ Brings Lovecraftian Horror to Unexpected Realms

By fusing Lovecraftian horror with the story of one of the most notorious names in hip-hop, Joshua Chaplinsky took the genre in a refreshingly hilarious direction.

Could Kanye West’s beats be fresh enough to raise the dead? Author and editor of the famous online literary magazine “LitReactor” asks that very question in his latest novella “Kanye West-Reanimator.”

Melding the story of the outspoken and narcissistic rapper Kanye West with Lovecraft’s famous short “Herbert West: Reanimator,” author Joshua Chaplinsky created a subversive and hilarious gem in the realm of Lovecraftian horror.

Written in response to a writing prompt from the short-lived literary journal “Lazy Fascist Review,” “Kanye West – Reanimator” follows the presumption that Kanye West’s revolutionary hip-hop style might not only be able to reanimate the hip-hop genre, but also raise the dead.

It’s a hilarious idea conceived as inspiration from Lovecraft’s similar story about a fictional mad scientist named Herbert West who becomes obsessed with raising the dead. Typical of the Lovecraftian horror style, the story is told from the perspective of West’s assistant, who portrays the scientist as egotistical and unreasonable, yet also brilliant.

Chaplinsky’s immediate association with rapper Kanye West doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch when one considers the already narcissistic character in Lovecraft’s novella.

In fact, that’s what makes the story so hilarious. Kanye West’s character is accurately portrayed to anyone familiar with his infamous history, as the rapper is often depicted pontificating about his own genius and plan to reinvent hip-hop throughout the novella.

His grandiose vision is only further exacerbated by his insane obsession with the idea that if his beats were only fresh enough, he could raise the dead. His belief was cemented by his hysterically egocentric vision that his music transcended life and death.

The story continues as Kanye’s assistant recollects West’s obsession with reanimating Biggie and Tupac, in hopes of saving the hip-hop genre from over saturation and the mainstream pop styles of rappers like Outkast.

Kanye the reanimator becomes obsessed with remixing his beats over and over and injecting cords from his laptop into the veins of the dead. Every once in a while, his beats are fresh enough to spark signs of life into the corpses, but it’s an unfortunate life for the reanimated, as ghastly, zombie-like creatures. Kanye’s explanation for the corpses’ grotesque state is always the same — the beats weren’t fresh enough.

Kanye West Reanimator
Why is Jay-Z’s head in a bowl though? (Image via Houston Press)

The story further goes on to recollect real instances in Kanye’s life, like his marriage to Kim Kardashian, which Chaplinsky hilariously refers to as “Kimya,” and even his controversial decision to utilize Auto-Tune in his music.

Inevitably, Kanye’s obsession with resurrecting the dead causes him to descend into madness, and the story depicts this theme well by showcasing real examples of Kanye’s most controversial actions, such as flying off the handle and dissing other celebrities. The novella ends ominously, with readers unsure of Kanye’s whereabouts. As a reader, I certainly hope there will be a part two.

Not only is the premise of this novella hilarious, but it is filled with side-splitting one-liners as well. For example, Kanye’s assistant repeatedly argues with him about why he shouldn’t name his debut album “Nocturnal Emissions.” Clever quips like these are abound throughout the story, making it a dangerous read in public if you don’t want to appear mad by laughing to yourself.

The story does follow the Lovecraftian horror model, however, eventually becoming a serious page-turner with climactic elements. However, like much of the horror pervading the modern literary world, Chaplinky’s latest novella does not take itself too seriously.

Unlike modern horror movies that seek to terrify viewers, most of the hipper, new horror books are tongue-in-cheek. Fringe genres like bizarro and splatterpunk dominate the underground horror literature realm. “Kanye West – Reanimator” is no different.

This novella is going to be funnier and more affecting for anyone familiar with Lovecraft’s canon, as it follows the Lovecraftian horror model to a tee. The story is even split up in exactly the same fashion as the story on which it is based, “Herbert West: Reanimator.”

Still, this is so much more than mere Lovecraftian fan fiction. This is the freshest, most innovative utilization of the Lovecraftian horror genre I have seen yet. Modern horror often comes off a bit hackish in its tendency to take itself too seriously. Many modern writers try too hard to emulate to author’s adverb-heavy writing style without really grasping his themes.

“Kanye West – Reanimator” is a refreshing take on the genre, however, with its fusion of modern elements into an arcane literary style. Prolific authors such as Chuck Palahniuk have even praised the book’s intriguing approach. The literary world might be on the verge of a new style of genre fusion.

First Lovecraft and hip-hop, what’s next? “Lord of the Rings” and ‘90s sitcoms? Who knows? All I know is that I absolutely recommend this read to fans of Lovecraft who don’t take themselves too seriously. It will absolutely have you beside yourself in stitches.

Tabitha Prisinzano, Columbia College of Missouri

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Tabitha Prisinzano

Columbia College of Missouri
English Literature

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