On Saturday, Kanye posted a pair of text conversations between himself and Lang, which included a photo of the surgeon who operated on Kanye’s mother, Donda West, who died in 2007 from post-operative plastic surgery complications.
“This is my album cover,” Kanye wrote to Lang in the first screenshot. “This is plastic surgeon Jan Adams. The person who performed my moms final surgery. Do you have any title ideas?” he asked Lang, adding, “I want to forgive and stop hating.”
Lang responded in the second screenshot, “I think that’s exactly what you should use.”
Kanye is known for backing controversial figures like himself, and Lang is no exception. In 2007, Deitch Projects pulled two of Lang’s pieces from their exhibition that featured century-old African-American stereotypes, allegedly calling them “superficially incendiary” and offensive to the black community.
And, of course, there is the merchandise that Lang designed for Kanye’s 2013 Yeezus tour. The artwork was illustrated by Lang in his trademark rock-and-roll-inspired style, with one piece displaying a skull swathed in the Confederate flag. Of the shirt, Lang admittedly said, “You can't wear that outside,” to GQ in 2016.
Kanye and Lang have taken a page from each other’s books. Like Kanye, Lang also borrows heavily—to the point of appropriation, per GQ—from one of his influences, Basquiat. Appropriation in that manner is frowned upon in the art world, and both Kanye and Lang were called out for it.
In 2016, Kanye posted a photo of his home on Twitter, with a Lang painting in the background. New York Magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz replied to the image, “This is weird. I'm @NYMag Art Critic. Love Basquait. LOVE this painting. Looked at ALL my Basquait catalogs. Painting not there?”
Lang spoke about his provocative approach in a conversation with Interview in 2009. "I like to take American history and then completely ignore it," he said. "I come at it visually, taking images and telling my own story. It comes out of criticism and great love. There are problems [with America], and we all know that, but I'm attracted to the dark side of things."
While it looks like Kanye is talking about his album artwork, nothing has been confirmed yet. West announced that his solo album will drop on June 1.