Sunday, October 24, 2010
Lord Lord Lord
It sounds silly to say that Kanye West has reclaimed everything he was before 808s and Heartbreaks nudged him into avant-garde territory and the Taylor Swift fiasco pushed him out of the pop lexicon altogether, but it's true. It feels cheap to compare him to someone like Robert Downey Jr or Michael Vick, men who were at the top of their respective games and suffered a precipitous fall from grace. He didn't really "do" anything. Being an asshole isn't really a prosecutable offense, but prosecuted he was. In the aftermath of the Swift episode, his name was mud (or "jackass" if you're President Obama). No one was interested in what precipitated the outburst, it was easier just to write him off and watch him burn. Well, if there's anything we enjoy more than our celebrities in the US, it's a good redemption story.
Well months went by, and we heard nary a peep from Mr. West. Maybe he was hoping he could bide his time and introduce himself again to a public with a notoriously short memory. Whatever the case may be, he released "Power" in May and immediately seized the throne that had remained vacant in his absence. The strength of "Power" alone would probably have been enough to catalyze a redemptive Rolling Stone article, but Kanye had other plans. He unveiled plans to release a new song every Friday for through December. Not a remix, not alternate versions, no half-baked incomplete pieces. New fully-realized songs every week. The first G.O.O.D. Friday song was the spectacular "Monster", featuring appearances from Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and hipster darling Bon Iver. True to his word, G.O.O.D. Fridays became a holiday for music fans, with Kanye offering a glimpse into his dazzling Rolodex on a weekly basis. At a time when some of the biggest names in music lamented the death of the LP and publicly worried where the medium was headed, Kanye not only made music exciting and buzz-worthy again, but did it for free.
Well if an album's worth of free music wasn't enough for you, Kanye had a little bit more up his sleeve last night. Not exactly a 35 minute music video as much as it was a cinematic event directed by Mr. West and simulcast on VH1, MTV and BET during prime time. "Runaway" is nearly dialogue-free story of a beautiful phoenix who crash-lands on earth and is rescued by West, featuring several unreleased songs off his forthcoming album. Sounds cheeky, it's not. It is gorgeously shot, beautifully scored and impressively realized. There are less than subtle parallels to West's own fall, but it resists heavy-handed melodrama, no small feat for a film with a 9-minute, meticulously choreographed ballerina sequence smack-dab in the middle of it. Kanye is hemorrhaging creative energy these days, maybe because the past year has shown him how quickly it can all evaporate, but it's been something else to witness.
My Favorite G.O.O.D. Friday song "Christian Dior Denim Flow"
"Runaway" film - "Clean" Version