Troy Cle is the creator of The Marvelous Effect, a fantasy book & science fiction series The Marvelous World Saga. After watching Kanye West's "Runaway," he was compelled to write this opinion piece and review. There is a special place where the disaster prone and eternally compelling Kanye West resides. It is a sacred place beyond reproach where passion and genius dwell. It is a place that we have a clear view of but is solemnly guarded by velvet ropes because such is a requirement of celebrity.
Agree or disagree, the 33-year-old Chicagoan is known throughout the world and still in the game in a huge way because of talent a tad bit more so than controversy. The video for Runaway is a testament to that. Not because it is an epic piece. Not because it is good. Not because it is bad. It is simply because it exits and has been anticipated by much of the music community. West had something he wanted this community to see and without a doubt he imposed his artistic vision upon millions. It is safe to say that some of the visuals will be in their heads for days if not forever.
Being a musician is about taking risks. Some calculated and some not. This video was a big risk, especially since one of the major venues that it debuted on was BET. BET is not known for featuring artistic representations like a parade of elegant White ballerinas like this one proudly does. The video could very well have left some viewers disappointed and on an anti-Kanye tirade. Such does not seem to be the case.
This 34-minute long form video echos the time when we saw Michael Jacksons Thriller so many years ago. It is no surprise that there is a major reference to Jackson in this video. The video features nine of Kanyes songs from his upcoming album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and chronicles the story of a phoenix who falls to earth, becomes Kanyes girlfriend, and experiences how cruel people can be to what they do not understand. Eventually, the phoenix leaves Earth for her world to avoid being turned to stone. Kanye has gone on record saying that the concept of a burning phoenix was a kind of metaphor for the resurrection of his career after his incident at last years VMAs so there is no guessing about that there.
Some parts of Runaway disappoint and seem lifeless, but that is oddly acceptable because some of it touches equally upon genius and that is a RARE find in anything. One such moment is the All of the Lights segment that does not feature any visual effects or an over -the-top location. Still, it is a near surreal wonder to watch and the horn heavy track complimented with Rihannas melodic hook and the sing song verse of Kanye that transitions into an aggressive bridge is the making of a hit record.
The segment features the illuminated head of Michael Jackson surrounded by a marching band decked in red under a firework painted sky. Its all magic. At one time during the segment the dead pan expression and ridged march of the band leader is immediately contrasted to the fluid looks and movements of surprise and wonder of Kanye and his phoenix girlfriend. It all just takes the viewer somewhere else. So much so the masked winged figures and pointed red hoods that some of the members of the procession wear do not carry the immediate hateful history of the Klu Klux Klan or paganism with them. That imagery, like the experience, comes into the viewers mind totally fresh and new without a preconceived notion of what to make of it all. In todays world that is nearly impossible and West manages to do that with ease. He did something similar with the Power video. He was able to use the videos visuals to place himself in a space so far from where you were accustomed to him inhabiting that for a moment you could only see him right there and then in that moment.
Others can write more on this video because there are countless elements of this video that can be picked apart and analyzed. It exists in part to get people talking about it in a way they would not for a normal video. They can do just that while I concede that West is an undying passionate force. I applaud his highly entertaining efforts.
Troy Cle can be found at marvelousworld.net.