Friday, May 25, 2007

Stuck Between Stations: Kanye West "Can't Tell Me Nothing"

Mr. West makes his return in typically grandiose fashion...

Kanye West "Can't Tell Me Nothing"

dir. by Hype Williams

This is a beautifully stylized and skillfully shot performance meant to grandly introduce the world to the biggest album of the year, Kanye West's Graduation. Like the music and lyrics on this first single, Hype Williams video for "Can't Tell Me Nothing" recycles old ideas behind the guise of modern technique. It almost certainly carries astronomical production costs, but as the Louis Vuitton Don tells us - "it's so hard not to act reckless."

The opening sequence, with Kanye pacing around the camera like a prizefighter, sets the star up as a resilient and unrelenting force - alone in the desert of his own determination. He's a man still caught between God and the allure of Earthly pleasure, which Williams represents with scantily-clad women barely obscured by flowing veils - a simultaneously religious and sexual image.

In many ways this is a glorified ode to beautiful girls and fancy cars with Kanye simply treading water in his tired themes of personal and universal hypocrisy. Yet he is searching for something more to say, and even when he skips like a broken record one can't help but be enthralled by the possibility that one day he will actually graduate to fresh ideas. Though I imagine this song or video will do little to increase enrollment in the Kanye-believers camp, it hasn't dropped anyone out either.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

With all due respect I think any positive review of this video is disgusting. It is simply dreadful, a boring combination of Madonna's "Frozen" (the girl) and Fort Minor's "Petrified" (backlit flares, desert landscape, car peeling out)... and I'd be willing to bet Hype charged the label (and Kanye) AT LEAST a million for it. Granted, the cinematography and telecine are nice but that's it. The edit sucks, the concept is unoriginal, and the performance is dull. If this is to be my introduction to "the biggest album of the year" then I'm already looking forward to '08.

cindee said...

This video is brilliant...What is Kanye trying to tell us?...I thought It goes back to his attitude to his pre-accident days. The lady to me looks like an angel of death...and the lights and smoke-sirens and car crash...Also in the dessert, there's a car...Hmmm? Back then you couldnt tell him nothin'.

Anonymous said...

He had an accident?...I think Kanye is trying to say that success is pressuring him. That’s why he sings in the song “to whom much is given much is tested.” He feels like he is constantly being watched by the public, his fans, and his label. Maybe he does not feel fully independent…?

Anonymous said...

I noticed a lot of Kanye West's songs are loaded with simple pop repetition, which contradicts the very message of this song. Pop has no pure origin like rock or rap from the 70s. The electronic sounding background singer is rolling her own voice over her own voice. Like some kind of angelic neg in the desert loneliness of this,... "man" they call Kanye West. Some call him "arrogant son of a negress". But fuck, it be the homies droppin it down from the south. "Laaaa laaa laa la, wait till I get my money right, then ya can't tell me nothin right, whhye do we wait to late," in a rhythmic way while asking questions and giving fewer answers. Hes an idealist in a desert created on a Hollywood set. Or they might have gotten out and strewn some sick keyboards. He is one black G, but I like it.

Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie