Kanye West - "Blood on the Leaves" (VMA performance)

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Though he was expected to perform "Black Skinhead," Kanye West took to Sunday night's VMAs to perform a shadowy rendition of Yeezus' most controversial track, "Blood on the Leaves."

The performance was energetic and visually striking, proving once again that Kanye should be on top of everybody's live music bucket list. It was striking, in no small part because of the stage's backdrop, a huge, gorgeous photo of a tree taken by filmmaker Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame). The photograph is currently up on West'sofficial website in full resolution, along with the following message:

“This tree was used for lynching. Those who were murdered are buried in the ground around the tree. Blood on the leaves.”

It's a powerful and stirring image, to be sure, but it really does come off as insensitive. West has over-served his evocation of the ugly and terrible tragedy of this country's history of lynching in a song mainly about how some women try to "trap" rappers into paying palimony and child support. Watch the clip above.

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Speaking of Steve McQueen: Below is a trailer to the director's latest film project, 12 Years As A Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano and Beasts of the Southern Wild's Quivanzhané Wallis.