Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lost in Translation: Kanye West "Stronger"

A big-time production that may just win Kanye his coveted MTV EMA...


Kanye West "Stronger"

dir. by Hype Williams

Kanye follows up the lavish "Can't Tell Me Nothing" with another Hype Williams video that looks even more expensive - and significantly better. Daft Punk permeate the visuals as much as the music, but Hype's futuristic machinery parallels Bjork's sublime "All if Full of Love" as well (if only in visual style). It's a feast for the eyes, and the pairing of flashy lights, Japanese motorcycle gangs and the rising synths of the track works wonders. What doesn't work are Kanye's dance moves or those ridiculous glasses (which he may or may not have borrowed from Kells).

The plot riffs on the original DP version, placing Mr. West in a strange, potentially brain-washing experiment - except this time he seems to be controlled by the legendary dance duo themselves. Shots of Kanye's newly toned physique are meant to emphasize the literal strength he's gained while overcoming criticism and the pressures of stardom. There are bandages on his heart as he enters the robot-controlled machine, but the Chicago rapper wants to assure us he is still full of passion and emotion. His eventual escape from that torment reveals his resolve - mirroring the boastful verses that open the song.

Yet ultimately it's all just an exercise in style. West spent three months searching for those designer frames, just to make sure you'd never seen them before and thus knew they cost more than your house. In much the same way, the entire video is essentially an advertisement of the rapper's wealth, which at this point in his career we are already well aware of. The song is actually a bit more interesting, with Kanye undercutting his bravado while talking to a pretty girl in the club ("I'm trippin,' I'm caught up in the moment"). And while exploring that theme might have made for a more meaningful experience, it most certainly would have gotten in the way of R&B star Cassie shaking her stuff. Which strangely ends up being the focal point of the video.

4 comments:

Tzadkiel said...

The reviewer needs to watch Akira. The whole music video is ripped off of Tetsuo's experiences in the movie. The hospital scene is identical, purposefully though, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

The motorcycle scenes and Tokyo street scenes are also from Akira.

Anonymous said...

"In much the same way, the entire video is essentially an advertisement of the rapper's wealth, which at this point in his career we are already well aware of."

He's advertising his love for a GREAT CLASSIC anime!

Anonymous said...

While Kanye may be vaugely familiar with the source material, I think it's obvious that the source of this concept came from HYPE (i.e. Kite & No Doubt's "Ex Girlfriend")

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