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Meaning of ‘Devil In A New Dress’ by ‘Kanye West’ feat. Rick Ross

Released: 2010

Features: Rick Ross

Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress,” featuring Rick Ross, is a complex, introspective cut from Kanye’s acclaimed album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. It masterfully blends the sacred and the profane, relationships angst with personal reflections, emphasising how love intoxicates, manipulates, and often leads to our self-destruction. Through potent metaphors and wordplay, the duo constructs a narrative that explores the duality of human nature, lust, materialism, and the inward struggle between good and evil.

In the first verse, Yeezy likens the allure of his romantic interest to a sin, marrying religious imagery with his romantic experiences, embodied in the line “The way you look should be a sin, you my sensation”. In a twisted dichotomy, he even juxtaposes Jesus and Satan, suggesting that despite our reverence for good, we all learn from the darker aspects of life. Kanye further imbues these verses with the narrative of a strained relationship, marked by infidelity, breakups and constant turmoil, encapsulated in lines such as, “How she gon’ wake up and not love me no more?” and “Text message break-ups, the casualty of tour”.

This relationship angst continues into the second verse where financial troubles and jealousy are coming to the fore. The line “And outta all the colors that’ll fill up the skies, You got green on your mind, I can see it in your eyes” reveals the presence of envy. In an allusion to rapper Ma$e who left rap at his prime to become a preacher, Ye lyricalizes, “Don’t leave while you’re hot that’s how Mase screwed up”. Here, Kanye is advocating for the hustle, warning against getting complacent and leaving the game at its prime.

Rick Ross’s verse in the latter part of the song brings in the perspective of an established figure in the industry. Ross mentions his past struggles (“Had cyphers with Yeezy before his mouth wired”) acknowledging his growth in the industry from a hungry newcomer to a heavyweight. He lays his journey bare with braggadocious lines like, “New Mercedes sedan, the Lex sport / So many cars DMV thought it was mail fraud”. Incorporating his traditional Mafioso rap style with an introspective spin, Ross ends his verse with “I’m making love to the angel of death”, hinting at a flirtation with danger and the mortal side of life, a recurring theme in Rick Ross’s verses.

Overall, “Devil in a New Dress” is a layered piece of storytelling that intertwines religious allegory, relationship woes and the realities of the rap industry. It’s a testament to the lyrical prowess of both Kanye West and Rick Ross and their ability to infuse depth into their narratives.

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