Kanye West’s 10 Best Videos
Aside from his clothing line and theatrical stage shows, Kanye West has been known to create epic music videos. With the release of his sixth solo album, ‘Yeezus,’ out today, he’s already created an innovative visual to accompany ‘New Slaves’ — he projected the video on 66 buildings around the world — and surely there’s more new clips to follow.
To celebrate the release of ‘Yeezus,’ as well as all of the big plans the G.O.O.D. Music leader has for 2013 — fatherhood comes with lots of responsibility and inspiration — here is a rundown of some of his legendary visual moments.
‘The New Workout Plan’
When West released the video for ‘The New Workout Plan’ in 2004, it was not too surprising that he went with a fitness theme. Of course, he ran away with the idea. Directed by West and X, we were all entertained while watching women bring the lyrics to life while being inspired to get into the gym ourselves.
‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’
If Hype Williams directed it, it’s obviously epic. And that was the case with West’s 2005 video for ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone.’ Filmed in Prague, the video juxtaposes images of the European elite, who love diamonds, and the African children mining for them. Not only was this cinematically beautiful, it was also a strong PSA that resonated with many people.
‘Touch the Sky’ Feat. Lupe Fiasco
In West’s ‘Touch the Sky’ video, he wanted to go for a vintage feel with a ’70s style video that was inspired by Evel Knievel’s infamous 1974 jump. Featuring Pamela Anderson, Nia Long, Tracee Ellis Ross, the Booker T. Washington High School Marching Band of Houston, Texas and Lupe Fiasco, you kind of forget you’re watching a music video. This is more of an ode to a throwback Hollywood film. Although the video did cause some controversy, this is still a video that shows just how creative West can get.
Remember the adorable teddy bear depicted in West’s 2007 album, ‘Graduation’? West and designer Takashi Murakami created the image. Instead of wondering why he was catapulted from Universe City, the ‘Good Morning’ video depicts Dropout Bear’s journey through the city to get to his graduation on time. Although the song seems simple, the animated video grabs us and leaves us wanting to find out what happens to this bear next.
Inspired by Japanese anime, ‘Akira,’ West went futuristic with his 2007 video for ‘Stronger.’ Not only does it feature Cassie and a Japanese motorcycle gang, but it also features two actors from Daft Punk’s film ‘Electroma’ dressed as the French electro music makers. And even though some may have already been rocking the shutter shades before this visual, the trend shot through the roof after the video premiered.
When West released ‘Flashing Lights’ in 2007, fans wondered what kind of visual would go along with the track. However, everyone was surprised to find out that he made, not one, but three music videos for the song. Teaming up with Spike Jonze, West takes us to the desert with Ford Mustang and a Playboy model.
Going the animated route again, West enlists the help of Hype Williams once more in this sad song about a guy whose been burned. Instead of using Dropout Bear, West is animated as the video’s protagonist and goes through the city expressing his anguish over an old flame. While we’re not sure why the apartment he’s in while singing the song’s bridge is decorated with Jetson family photos, this visual shows the quirks and West’s willingness to go against the grain when it comes to creating videos.
‘Runaway’ Feat. Pusha T
West takes the directing reigns in his 2010 video for ‘Runaway’ featuring Pusha T. While it may seem simple to just put a bunch of ballerinas in a video with West spotlighted at the piano, he shows his avant-garde look despite the gritty lyrics. The blend of classical and street styles shows how he can push the envelope — especially when he’s calling the shots. Did we mention he also made a full-length film version for this song, too?
‘No Church in the Wild’ Feat. Frank Ocean
When West and Jay-Z combined forces and released ‘Watch the Throne’ in 2011, the collaboration was one of the most hyped up LPs that year. And while they churned out a number of hits together, their video for ‘No Church in the Wild,’ directed by Romain Gavras, takes viewers to the Czech Republic. Depicting a violent protest, the video looks like a social commentary on the current state of civil unrest around the world — definitely a powerful message that resonates with people on a global scale.
‘Mercy’ Feat. 2 Chainz, Big Sean & Pusha T
Although this could be the most minimalist projects West ever made in his career, the Nabil Elderkin-directed visual shows a bunch of elements that make this one to watch. Filmed in a Qatar mall parking lot, the video is one continuous shot that makes fans feel like they are on a carousel ride watching Kanye, 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Pusha T spit rhymes at them. Other G.O.O.D. Music artists like Kid Cudi (he’s since parted ways with ‘Ye) and Teyana Taylor are also present in the black-and-white clip along with a Lamborghini. Simple yet classic.