Kanye West is an intriguing individual, always trying new ways to grab the attention of the people around the world, something that is true when it comes to his many music videos. While the songs are obviously the most important, we shouldn’t forget about the visuals, as sometimes they can elevate songs to new heights and other times they can bring hit songs look bad. So, with Yeezy having a thing for the dramatics, his music videos tend to be very exciting and interesting, like his animated music video for “Good Morning” and the short film-like visual for “Touch the Sky”. To put it simply, Kanye West knows how to make them, always finding the right people to direct and produce his visual pieces. With his music videos varying greatly from one another, which are Yeezy’s top ten best music videos? Well, we at The Hergula have decided to compile exactly that, a top ten list of Kanye West’s best music videos to date!
10. Homecoming – Kanye West ft. Chris Martin
This music video is among Kanye West’s best, mainly because of how well it is directed by Hype Williams and the creative decisions that were made to make the visual fit the mood and vibe of the song. While a colorful visual could have worked, I definitely like the idea of going black and white with the video, as it puts things into perspective and allows for a much grittier tone. Also, with Yeezy at the forefront, shining a spotlight on Chicago, it’s nice to see some slow-motion shots of the streets, monuments and people of the city, letting us soak in whatever is featured in each and every clip. Let us not forget about the brilliant silhouette parts with Kanye West and Chris Martin, a creative decision that definitely adds another dimension to this otherwise grounded and simplistic video, making it a bit more special. All in all, it’s a great video that utilizes solid camera angles to make for one enjoyable and fitting visual, with Mr. West’s charisma adding to the enjoyment.
9. Otis – Kanye West w/ Jay Z ft. Otis Redding
Can’t you just feel the brotherly love in this video? I mean Kanye West and Jay Z truly play off of one another in this visual, having fun and putting their friendship on display like never before. Not only does that make it an uplifting video, it boosts the feeling of the song, as seeing Yeezy and Hov modifying a Maybach 57 and then taking it on a joy ride with a few models in the backseat is pretty darn entertaining. However, be that as awesome as it may, Spike Jonze is the true reason this music video comes across very fresh and crisp, making it as vibrant as it is. To think that Jonze was able to get both Kanye West and Jay Z on-screen together without the two trying to compete for the spotlight, which is an achievement in its own right. All in all, Yeezy and Hov’s charisma and character make this an energetic music video that will put a smile on your face, as the two seem to truly be playing around and enjoying the video shoot.
8. Heard ’em Say (Version 1) – Kanye West ft. Adam Levine
Whether you like him or not, who doesn’t love seeing Kanye West letting loose, doing the splits and having a blast at Macy’s? Well, that’s what we get treated to when we watch this Michel Gondry directed music video, starring Kanye West as a homeless guardian of three young children and Adam Levine playing the part of a Macy’s security guard with a heart of gold. Honestly, things come together beautifully, making for one uplifting music video that is both entertaining and fun to watch. Being as simple as it is, the visual leans heavily on Kanye West’s charisma to pull through, and he doesn’t disappoint, busting out a few dance moves and doing an awesome split. That’s not all, Yeezy is able to portray his homeless character in a believable way, with only Adam Levine coming across as the awkward odd man out in this music video. Even so, all pieces fall into place, making for this beautiful music video that is among Yeezy’s best!
7. Touch The Sky – Kanye West ft. Lupe Fiasco
Let’s be real, this might be a music video but it’s more like a 5-minute 70s style short film, with Kanye West paying homage to Evel Knievel by playing a character named Evel Kanyevel. That’s not all as the video tells the story of Yeezy’s character trying to fly a rocket across the Grand Canyon. Yes, it’s indeed silly but that’s the entire point of the video, to make you laugh and have an enjoyable experience together with Kanye West and his supporting cast. While Lupe Fiasco and Pamela Anderson appear in the video, Tracee Ellis Ross and Nia Long steal the show together with Kanye West in their humorous sketch in the middle of the music video. It not only elevates the visual to another level, it’s surprisingly fitting. Perhaps we should thank Chris Milk for directing it as well as he did, giving that short scene and the entire video a distinct look and feel to it. Honestly, the man truly worked the angles to bring us a well-shot music video, and while it has its flaws of being a bit too corny at times, it’s overall a very fun and entertaining music video.
6. Diamonds From Sierra Leone – Kanye West
This music video’s message comes across without having to listen to the song, mainly because it is set up much like a motion picture, with a quote from the leading man and a powerful opening narrative. It makes for a nice introduction, giving us the plot of the music video right off the bat. Add to that some religious imagery and wide-eyed children that work their fingers to the bone for diamonds, and you got yourself a music video that is both deep and touching. Being filmed on location in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, the European scenery definitely gives it a different feel, which is a good thing as it fits the theme of the visual. With Hype Williams directing this piece, being shot entire in black and white, the solid angles and creative shots can be seen throughout the length of the video. Also, there’s no way to sneeze past Kanye West’s charisma, which shines through in this black and white visual, delivering a performance for his visual in a cool, calm and collected manner. The ending is made powerful by Kanye’s presence and the creative decisions to have him run through the streets with the slave children and have him play two pianos at the same time in a church. It makes for an enjoyable music video with memorable moments and solid creation.
5. Jesus Walks (Version 3) – Kanye West
Honestly, let’s give Kanye West an applause for making this one, as there was no need for another “Jesus Walks” video but he still decided to create another one. surprisingly enough, this video is among his greatest, as it shows another side of him and his creativity, willing to make a very “homemade” style video for a song with a very passionate message. The grainy look of the video, the black and white filter and the grounded theme really come together to make an intriguing visual, one that is very different from Yeezy’s other videos, which is a good thing. Showing the ability to adapt, change and take risks is what creating anything in life is all about and making this piece was definitely a challenge, as well as a risk. Given, the video has its share of flaws, like some bad angles and too much of the shaky-cam. However, the fact that Kanye West directed this piece together with Coodie and Chike is beautiful, showing how creative minds can come together and create a video that fits the song perfectly. Also, let’s not forget that before Jesus appeared on-stage with Yeezy at his concerts, he appeared in this video of “Jesus Walks”.
4. Heartless – Kanye West
Whether it was Kanye West or director Hype Williams, someone needs an award for coming up with the idea of creating a rotoscoped animated music video. I mean honestly, it’s not too often you see people getting inspired by lesser-known works, like Ralph Bakshi’s 1981-year motion picture titled American Pop, a film which uses the exact same animation style we see in this Kanye West’s visual. To put it simply, paying tribute to a film like that is both noteworthy and extraordinary, something that truly was a creative decision worth taking a risk on, as the animation style gives the visual a distinct look even when compared to other music videos. In it, we see Kanye West wandering the streets at night, with a variety of women shown throughout the length of the visual, with The Jetsons characters making an appearance at the end as well. With striking color combinations and fascinating animation style, this Kanye West’s music video is truly a well-created work of art.
3. Good Morning – Kanye West
This animated music video is both heartwarming and entertaining, starring Kanye West’s former mascot known as Dropout Bear, who is brought to life by the OLM Digital animation production company. Not only did they succeed in bringing this character to life on film, the company truly hit the mark in creating a 3-minute journey for Dropout Bear to make it to his college campus for his graduation ceremony. Kanye West himself came up with the original story, which was directed by the contemporary Japanese artist by the name of Takashi Murakami. However, they didn’t create this piece alone, as this video actually had an entire crew of people working on it, making it all the more special. Nevertheless, it’s the type of fictional tale with a surrealistic twist that will make you feel all warm inside, as it is a positive story with a few bumps on the road. Somehow everything comes together nicely, making for this animated music video that is a pure joy to watch!
2. Power – Kanye West
Kanye West described this video best, calling it a “moving painting”, with the camera moving slowly away from Yeezy to reveal a number of other people surrounding him, which in turn creates one cohesive piece of art near the end of the visual. That continuous slow motion shot is absolutely brilliant, mainly because it is not a technique used too often in music videos. In this case, it comes as no surprise because the visual is directed by Marco Brambilla, who was praised by Vanity Fair for his elaborate recontextualizations of well-known and found imagery, calling his work as “critiques and masterpieces of visual overload”. This is not a man who is a video director but his creative spirit and talented mind make for one amazing tool, capable of making an intriguing and hypnotizing music video for one of Kanye West’s songs. It’s a treat for the eyes, truly fun to watch and see what is revealed when the camera tracks out second after second. While it is indeed very short, it’s also damn sweet. The lighting, shading and tone of the video is beautiful, truly capturing the essence of the song and making for one beautiful “moving painting”.
1. Runaway – Kanye West ft. Pusha T
This artistic and elegant music video is easily one of Kanye West’s greatest, even if it’s a scene from the musical short film he wrote and directed, titled Runaway. However, the fact that it’s a part of a bigger piece and still works without the context of the film is truly noteworthy. This is achieved by having Kanye West’s character step away from the dinner table to entertain his guests by performing a song, with two-dozen ballerinas putting on a well-choreographed show. Being shot in a warehouse of sorts, the simplicity is what makes other things pop, with the ballerinas wearing black, dinner guests wearing white and the dirty green walls as the background for the dancers. Honestly, with this being Kanye West’s baby, a piece he directed, wrote and provided music for, it’s no wonder it is as clean and crisp as it is. This video is a nice example of how simplicity can be utilized to the max to achieve something very special, an elegant visual like this.