An Illustrated Index of Cultural References in Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


As we’re sure many of you have already realized, perhaps the most anticipated album of the year made its internet debut yesterday. Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a lot to process all at once, packed with incredible guests (Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Swizz Beats, Pusha T, Bon Iver… need we go on?), sprawling singles, and a whole lot of talk about fame, scrutiny, and their discontents.

While we don’t feel ready to render a verdict on the album, we were pretty delighted by its range of cultural references. Sure, there’s the typical hip-hop stuff: designers, cars, Scarface. But what’s really fascinating is the random, often nerdy stuff — including Steve Urkel, Black Sabbath, Diablo, and Napoleon Dynamite, just to name a few. After the jump, we’ve done our best to index the cultural references on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, with handy images and Wiki links for each entry, in case you somehow forgot who The Beatles were. Tell us what we left out in the comments.

“21st-Century Schizoid Man” The King Crimson song Kanye samples on “Power.”

Abernathy, Ralph David “My movement is like the civil rights I’m Ralph David/ Abernathy, so call my lady Rosa Parks.” — “So Appalled”

Ali, Muhammad “And these drugs, niggas can’t resist it/ Remind me when they tried to have Ali enlisted.” — “Gorgeous”

American Apparel “I need more drinks and less lights/ And that American Apparel girl in just tights/ She told the director she tryna get into school/ He said ‘Take them glasses off and get in the pool.'” — Gorgeous

Armani, Giorgio “Armani suits, fresh fruits, Bally boots and Benzes.” — “Gorgeous”

Baldwin, Alec “Got caught with 30 rocks, the cop looked like Alec Baldwin.” — “Gorgeous”

Bally “Armani suits, fresh fruits, Bally boots and Benzes.” — “Gorgeous”

Beatles, The “What’s a black Beatle anyway, a fuckin’ roach?” — “Gorgeous”

Borders “Restraining order/ Can’t see my daughter/ Her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order/ Public visitation.” — “All of the Lights”

Brown, Bobby “Them kilos came, we gave you Bobby Brown jaw.” — “So Appalled”

Choo, Jimmy “Look at you, naked, with themJimmy Choos off. Who taught you how to put some Jimmy Choos on?” — “Blame Game”

Chrysler LeBaron “I saw the devil in a Chrysler LeBaron.” — “Dark Fantasy”

The Chucky movies “I’ll say Bride of Chucky is Child’s Play.” — “Monster”

Cirque du Soleil “Yo, you took your game up a whole ‘nother level, this is some Cirque du Soleil shit, now!” — “Blame Game”

Cohen, Lyor “The Lyor Cohen or Dior Homme/ That’s Dior Homme, not Dior, homie.” — “Devil in a New Dress”

de la Renta, Oscar “The parties that we goin’ on Oscar day/ Especially if she can’t get that dress from Oscar de/ la Renta.” — “Hell of a Life”

Diablo “Drowned sorrows in that Diablo.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Dion, Celine “Look like a fat-booty Celine Dion.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Dior, Christian “That’s Dior Homme, not Dior, homie.” — “Devil in a New Dress”

Gonzalez, Anthony “Tony doing time for what he did to nostrils/ Paranoid mind, I’m still under the watchful/ Eye of the law.” — “So Appalled”

“Iron Man” The Black Sabbath song whose hook Kanye incorporates into “Hell of a Life.”

Jackson, Michael “MJ gone — our nigga dead.” — “All of the Lights”

James, Lebron “Hood phenomenom, the Lebron of rhyme/ Hard to be humble when you stuntin’ on a Jumbotron.” — “Devil in a New Dress”

Kings of Leon “I’m the King of Leon-a Lewis.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Lamborghini Murciélago “I fantasized about this, back in Chicago/ Mercy, mercy me, that Murciélago.” — “Dark Fantasy”

“Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The” “Ichabod Crane with that motherfuckin’ top off.” — “Runaway” “So much head, woke up in Sleepy Hollow.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Leinart, Matt “Plus a Trojan in my pocket, Matt Leinart.” — “So Appalled”

Lewis, Leona “I’m the King of Leon-a Lewis.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous “Champagne wishes, 30 white bitches/ I mean, the shit is fucking ridiculous.” — “So Appalled”

Ma$e “Don’t leave while your hot that’s how Mase screwed up/ Throwing shit around, the whole place screwed up/ Maybe I should call Ma$e so that he could pray for us.” — “Devil in a New Dress”

MC Hammer “I lost 30 mill so I spent another 30/ ‘Cuz unlike Hammer 30 mill can’t hurt me.” – “So Appalled”

Mercedes-Benz “Armani suits, fresh fruits, Bally boots and Benzes.” — “Gorgeous”

MTV “The day that you play me/ Will be the same day MTV play videos/ That was a little joke.” — “So Appalled”

Napoleon Dynamite “What you gon’ do know/ Whatever I wanna do, gosh!” — “Monster”

Nas “I’m just a Chi-town nigga with a Nas flow.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Nike “It matched every black pair of Nikes, throwin’ dice for decimals.” — “Gorgeous”

Noah’s Ark “I keep b-tches by the twos, nigga — Noah’s Ark.” — “So Appalled”

Parks, Rosa “My movement is like the civil rights I’m Ralph David/ Abernathy, so call my lady Rosa Parks.” — “So Appalled”

Pendergrass, Teddy “Spinnin’ Teddy Pendergrass.” — “Devil in a New Dress”

Philo, Phoebe “My bitch in that new Phoebe Philo.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Polo “As long as I’m in Polo, smilin’, they think they got me.” — “Gorgeous”

Powers, Austin “Holy powers, Austin Powers/ Lost in translation with a whole fuckin’ nation.” — “Power”

Prada “Praises due to the most fly, Prada.” — “So Appalled”

Psalm 23 “My cup overrunneth with hundreds.” — “So Appalled”

Rowland, Kelly “Motherfucker, we rollin’ with some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands.” — “Power”

Saturday Night Live “Fuck SNL and the whole cast/ They can kiss my whole ass/ More specifically, they can kiss my asshole.” — “Power”

Scarface “The crib’s Scarface, could it be more tony?” — “Devil in a New Dress”

Scott-Heron, Gil The spoken-word portion of “Who Will Survive in America” is by Scott-Heron, from his poem “Comment #1.”

South Park “Choke a South Park writer with a fish stick/ I insisted they get up off of this dick.” — “Gorgeous”

Trump, Donald “Balding Donald Trump taking dollars from y’all.” — “So Appalled”

Twista “Twista had this on in The Source.” — “Blame Game”

Urkel, Steve “Too many Urkels on your team, that’s why your wins low.” — “Dark Fantasy”

Versace “You can’t blame ‘em, they ain’t never seen Versace sofas.” — “Runaway”

Wonka, Willy “Yeah I’m in that Tonka, color of Willy Wonka.” — “Monster”

Woods, Tiger “Tiger Woods don’t make me grab irons.” — “So Appalled”

Zanotti, Giuseppe “Giuseppe heel, that’s the monster shoe.” — “Monster”