Crisp N' Fresh: Is Kanye West's Visual Escapade A 'Yay' Or A 'Nay'?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Putting the critical whip down for a moment about Kanye West, I have to say that his 35-minute music video opus for "Runaway" was pretty enjoyable. It's hypocritical of me, yes, but considering the doldrums of my life mixed in with that there was absolutely nothing on TV this weekend, this was the sort of artsy fartsy stuff that was needed. "Runaway", the video, is poignantly Kanye's vanity mirror look at himself, yet I have to admit that Kanye is one of few who makes hip-hop sort of enjoyable for me due to him being just ridiculously over the top. No doubt is "Runaway" a nod to rock-operas and visual vignettes like Pink Floyd's The Wall, The Who's Tommy and of course the mini-movie journeys that Michael Jackson graced us with. Yet, does Kanye have the cojones to really be mentioned in that league?  

Written by Hype Williams, directed by West, and starring his model squeeze of the moment, Selita Ebanks, "Runaway" is a music video that is artfully and tastefully done. West seems to have an eye for stark style, as evidence in how he handled his shots. Also he's dressed more so like he's going to Fantasy Island, than being a College Dropout, which shows some sort of maturity on his part.

The video also features brief snatches of songs from the upcoming My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, yet, the music oddly takes a backseat to the visual and the overall message of the tale of "boy meets phoenix". Symbolism galore is mashed into this which, thankfully, Kanye has already discussed his feelings and ideas about how he derived his embellishment on reality so we don't have to question much. What I got out of it the first time viewing was that the video's tale mirrors his Kanye's life as liken to the rise (and fall) of the phoenix (car crash, learning to adjust, rising up in the hip-hop industry, then come crashing back down to reality). Also the plot line of My Fair Lady wiggles it's way in with Kanye being the Professor Higgings to Selita's fish-out-of-water Eliza Doolittle.
Yet another Halloween costume idea? You know just in case your Willow Smith costume cost you some neck injuries.

"Runaway" is yet another layer to Kanye that has been peeled back and exposed, and actually this layer doesn't get an eye-roll from me, rather a rubbing chin cause I'm interested kind of look. The video is massively pretentious, yet I wouldn't have Kanye any other way. Even if you're not quite sure what Kanye is trying to do or could care less, you have to applaud him in some aspect that he's gets people talking, hating, analyzing, or worshiping whatever he puts forth, not to mention he is ambitious and cocky enough to push the envelope on what is considered pop culture these days, and that's always tough to do.

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