I am not really Getting Kanye West. By which I mean: haven't really been following him more than passively, using any of my own momentum to figure out what he's about, just taking what's given, in the media consumer sense. So I don't feel like I'm commenting with much authority when I say that I've never really understood what was so great about him. I never felt like the hubris was justified, I hated "Jesus Walks," and despite enormous Chicago boosterism and liking some of the people he works with, I wasn't feeling it. Couldn't figure out what was so unusual about him, either.
For some reason, though, I'm all enamored with "Touch the Sky," esp. the video, to the point where I kept YouTube-ing it today. Hain't perfect, but I kind of love it. Among other reasons:
* He and his directors have now mastered -- with "Golddigger," which I liked too -- how to fill a frame, the Other Angle, the way to visually depict funkiness and DJ swagger with low angles, behind angles, etc. They really work. The right amount of cool, of heat, of funk & elan. I'm really diggin it here. And here the hubris feels right -- like the hubris we all feel sometimes when life is clicked into place and we are on top of the world and there is nothing but forward momentum, yah, mon. Plus there's some goofiness too.
* I really like the *style* of "Touch the Sky." Okay, why this, when things 70s are pretty much (re)raped and pillaged already, I don't know, but I like the completeness and detail of the style--the overhead shots, the blown-out overly-sunny look, the dust, the goofiness, the deep deep 70s TV/movie feel in the credits, visual tricks, colors, announcers, etc.. Silly. But pretty effective. Smart to leverage Kanye as Evil Knievel. And as we have all learned from The Sound of Music, the judicious use of timeless/natural surroundings helps tremendously with dated (unintentionally or intentionally) projects. The Grand Canyon or whatever it is in this video is great. It seems very 70s to me--is it really (along with the Knievel story in the video)? Or are my own bicentennial experiences playing into it?
* I like seeing things mixed up - the 'video girl' is Pamela Anderson, and it's a stronger, weirder combo than that sounds (pretty conventional on the surface)--they look good together in their extremes (which I don't necc mean about skin color). And there's a little of rewriting history by switching around races in the Evil Knievel story. But there're also bizarre (contextually) scenes with Tracee Ellis Ross & Nia Long complaining about him going over. Some comment was needed, methinks, but the way this video handled it was strange--it's some of the only spoken dialoque and feels like it's doing those women a disservice. It's as if his post-millennial self knew the situation would have to be commented upon, so he dragged it in meaningless ways that he thought might fit in the 70s. Verr strange. I am probably not writing about this in a way that at all accurately explains what I think or does the situation justice--it's a very mixed-up, complicated world we are currently living in in terms of the whole spectrum of visual imagery, race, gender, blah blah. I mean, things have changed in new ways in recent years, but it's all still sticky.
* I think I just like this single. Great horns.
There's probably some reason to totally dislike the song I don't know about. But for now -- fun.