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Kanye West - Stronger (dir. Hype Williams)

carlosbravo, June 27, 2007 at 6:44:41 AM CEST

since O.J. had iso-tonerz. Really?

kprime, June 27, 2007 at 7:16:14 AM CEST

wow, i really enjoyed that.

stone44, June 27, 2007 at 9:23:49 AM CEST

Unfortunately the video itself, even in the scenes that mimic 'Akira', share little of the movie's energy and anger. The video’s failure to be as engaging and impressive as it sounded like it was going to be, falls on Hype Williams’ shoulders. Hype Williams is a stylist not a kinetic, movement-oriented director. His video for ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’ was clever in its parody of ‘De Beers’ diamonds commercials, that sort of too-clean, ultra-clear black and white and the ‘Gold Digger’ video was better than the song, but he seems to have the unfortunate habit of attempting to constantly create a new signature effect or stylistic flourish for every video. That effect used in the Ne-Yo video and the Robin Thicke video, wherein the images overlapped, essentially, putting images where the black-bars of normal widescreen would be, was too busy. The ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ video and the ‘Stronger’ video have this obnoxious technique where the footage kinda looks like security-cam footage for a few seconds and then stutters or freezes like a computer glitch and it just isn’t very interesting or clever. It makes sense in this futuristic video but it had no place in ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ and it highlights a certain copying-and-pasting of techniques that plagues most video directors. They just don’t seem to have much of a grasp of what actually fits or makes sense, just what looks really “cool”.

There’s also the frustrating fact that it still relies on the typical music video structure of inter-cutting two “stories” with performance footage. Even a video this strange and out-there is still anchored in convention. All of it looks amazing on its own but as a whole, it just doesn’t really gel, particularly the Kanye performance footage. The most alive part of the video are these quick hand-held shots of Japan that look like they were maybe even shot on-the-fly; they give the video an energy it lacks in most other places.

Hype Williams is an amazing stylist and I half-regret all the shit I’m talking here already, but ultimately, I don’t think Hype Williams and Kanye West really fit together. The raw feel of Chris Milk’s videos for Kanye (‘All Falls Down’, ‘Jesus Walks’, ‘Touch the Sky’) fit significantly better than Hype Williams’ smoothed-out direction. Kanye, despite his popularity, just isn’t a typical rap superstar, he’s too weird, too idiosyncratic, too daring. No matter how hard he tries or no matter who he hires, Kanye can never be bigger-than-life because his appeal is how honest he is about everything. Imagine a cheaper version of this video directed by Milk, or even Michel Gondry who directed the ‘Heard Em’ Say’ video. The biggest problem with the ‘Stronger’ video is that it isn’t very fun. Only a director as vapid as Hype Williams could make a futuristic rap video, in Japan, with the most ambitious rapper around, and end-up with something uninteresting.

progosk, June 27, 2007 at 9:37:55 AM CEST

at first look, this struck me as fairly cool/state-of-the-art. but then along comes stone and nails it.

eskimo_noise, June 27, 2007 at 9:55:47 AM CEST

fancy smokescreen for geeks.

I agree Stone44 : Mr Williams shot himself in the foot. Copying so much big references as Akira is a proof of his boredom and difficulty to find new ideas and concepts. Labels and majors should think now about looking on young directors than famous ones doing expensive and crap videos like this one.

ilovetoeatcandy, June 27, 2007 at 9:56:48 AM CEST thorough..i want to disagree but i can't. but as far as what eskimo said, i do not agree that this is crap. at the end of the day, i still kind of like it just because of kanye's shades. those are sick.

captainmarc22, June 27, 2007 at 10:03:44 AM CEST

I heard.... the video Hype did for No Doubt's "Girlfriend" was an homage to Anime films. I never saw it, and took him as unsucessful on that one.

This- is the better of the Kanye/Hype collabs, but yeah, it seems like it's going to be so much cooler than it actually ends up being. It just feels like Hype is pissed he's not working with the budgets he did in the late 90s.

I wonder how many people will know it's a Daft Punk song; I thought that was fairly popular in 2001-02. I mean, the Neptunes remixed it.

kevathens, June 27, 2007 at 12:49:09 PM CEST

I get the feeling this is more of a Kanye vehicle than a Hype one. Hype apparently "almost bailed three times" and I wouldn't blame him.

Kanye needs to either

  1. Direct the videos himself
  2. Stay out of the editing room
  3. Stick with Milk, who can somehow magically force Kanye's hand in the editing room

There was a lot of great shit in there, a lot of Hype at his best, but it just falls apart.

It looked like Hype had almost zero say in "Can't Tell Me Nothing", and just pocketed the cash instead of caring. I'd put the video's failure to be incredible (a small sin, cuz it's pretty good) on both men's shoulders, frankly.

I whole-heartedly applaud Kanye's appropriation of Daft Punk, though. Way to do it, Ye. Neat:

commissionergordan, June 27, 2007 at 2:42:40 PM CEST

Off topic but on a Daft Punk tip, I'd love to see this developed into a music video.

Wait for the lyrics to kick in

progosk, June 27, 2007 at 2:45:08 PM CEST

developed!? it's killer as it is (340K u2b views)! (dir. austin hall - pretty much a one-off tho...)

yarooba, June 27, 2007 at 4:21:50 PM CEST

there it is folks, the beauty of music video. here's a flabby, derivative pile of nonsense shot for a fortune, and there's a simple, original and vastly more entertaining clip made for... well, nada.

the IDEA. that's all there is.

a-morphic, June 27, 2007 at 4:44:02 PM CEST


this promo felt like an amateur promo contest winner.......i am there hope for this planet.......find out today when the CAD's winners get announced

kevathens, June 27, 2007 at 5:55:21 PM CEST

That was brilliant, but don't forget about execution, yarooba. Lots of us have great ideas but if you can't make it happen then Bob's yer uncle, as they say. This holds true for both Kanye and Austin.

It would be interesting to see Kanye try his hand at a YouTube viral, but even if he did then everyone would be asking him about it in interviews and talking about its cultural relevance in blogs, etc. Austin Hall has the advantage of anonymity.

30f, June 27, 2007 at 6:18:06 PM CEST

I take back what I said yesterday about lusk. a-morphic is the new winner!

and kev - all ideas are brilliant as long as they stay as ideas only. That way no one else can criticize the idea haver.

BTW - the vast, Vast, VAST majority of hip-hop (and music fans in general) will not see or understand this Kanye clip to be "akira-esque." They don't know what Akira is. This will seem exotic and new to them. Milk was a genius for putting Kanye in "Evel Knievel 70s" world, but Hype is a rip-off artist for putting Kanye in an anime movie from nearly 20 years ago? This seems way more like an "inspired blending" than a "blatant rip-off", but that could be just me.

PS - I liked this alot. First Hype video in a while where I felt he really was aiming high.

lex halaby, June 27, 2007 at 7:07:18 PM CEST

I agree with 30f and spit. I think everyone is being too hard on the video because it's Hype Williams. I actually enjoyed the clip and found it entertaining throughout. Hype's aesthetics are different, but I think in the scheme of his work this one's a keeper. Comparing it to Chris Milk's videos for Kanye is pointless, there is no use crying over spilled Milk (pun intended).

gorilla films, June 27, 2007 at 8:02:28 PM CEST

I don't like it. Just because there are so many good things in there that would have made a great video and then there is so much boring stuff. I think the problem is that on the one hand it tries to be very close to the original Akira material but on the other hand tries to enhance the material in a way that does not work. What are the dancers doing there? A little more storyline would have been great.

sgf_jason, June 27, 2007 at 8:08:23 PM CEST

I'm glad this is coming around, I actually liked much of this video. Looked like the label finally got their money's worth from Hype - 9 days of shooting!

octopuss, June 27, 2007 at 8:37:49 PM CEST

more daft punk sampled hip hop in japan...

moderndrifter, June 27, 2007 at 11:11:00 PM CEST

HEY! hype did some dynam-o videos when i was a lad -- Busta! Missy! (garbage bag suit AND mega man suit). Visually and directorally solid. This has some great shots, but damn, it doesnt make sense and tries to be 5 things. but kanye tries to be 5 things, so thats probably the deal right there. read the article, kanye hasnt a clue... about anything...especially losing awards graciously.

toddyokoh, June 27, 2007 at 11:19:33 PM CEST

Great editing.

good soul department, June 28, 2007 at 12:16:06 AM CEST

Leave my Daft Punk ALONE!!! Tis' blasphemy I say!

lusk81, June 28, 2007 at 12:22:04 AM CEST

Totally digging this. It gets really flat for me around 3:30 mark when we stay with ye. They shouldn't have him hold our attention at the song's climax, it just dies...

The cartoon intercuts are really awesome, why they didn't include more I don't know.

Hype's use/treatment of vfx always feels cheap to me. Both 2 and 3D. The compositing has an old school flame artist type of style (kanye with the chroma flare thing happening as he snarls?!) and the CG tends to have insanely unrealistic shading and texture to it (notice all the lens flares needed to 'flatten' the effect).

It tends to clash with the very photographic live action footage. But overall this is cool. A really fun pop video.

pdub, June 28, 2007 at 1:46:49 AM CEST

Damn! Who had their Hatorade today!? Are the negative comments here really sincere? Or is it just a bad case of schadenfreude? This music video kicks ass! Who doesn't borrow... everything's been done before... nothing's new. It's all about your interpretation of that said idea. That goes for all those pseudo-cool- dark-alternative-my parents never loved me-I hate money-but I've got a trust fund- safely ambiguous-videos so praised on this site! And I don't see how Hype can be criticized for creating a performance video that is slick and strikingly stylized. Consider the artist. A large part of who Kanye is... is about style. The visuals are incredibly engaging and presented in a fresh way. I also don’t' understand the comment by stone44. It's a peculiar criticism...

"... but he seems to have the unfortunate habit of attempting to constantly create a new signature effect or stylistic flourish for every video.”

Isn't it the job of the artist to always try to push the envelope, challenge themselves or bring something new to the process?

Urban videos are constantly criticized for recycling the same concept. With Stronger... there is simply nothing on BET or MTV that looks like it. Furthermore, criticizing Hype for borrowing from an iconic source like Akira is ridiculous (30f, most of the hip-hop heads I know... know Anime). What about Chris Milk borrowing lock, stock and barrel from an American icon... Evil Knievel? Seems like hypocrisy to me.

Milk's "Jesus Walks" was the shit! And I expected it to be... what, the budget was close to a million? And "Touch The Sky" was over a million with a cool concept... but it was very poorly edited. There was NO rhythm to it. Kanye makes Hip Hop music... but more specifically DANCE music. This is something that dear I say it... Michel Gondry didn't get either. On paper the "Heard 'em Say" video Gondry directed seemed like it was going to be a classic clip. But the edit was really flat and the in-camera effects were underwhelming making the video banal. The Stronger music video is not that. I don’t like everything Hype Williams does (he's phoned it in a few times)... but he hit this one out the $%#@! park!

stoney, June 28, 2007 at 3:15:54 AM CEST

I really love the concept. There are some very good ideas in here.

my problem is how those ideas are laid out. I wouldve loved to see more of the dudes with gas masks getting fucked up by kanye.

The part that goes "Oh!, Oh!, Oh!" is really an amazing chance for the video to be going "Apeshit" and it just shows some woman walking down a hallway.

With some slight tweaking this could have been hit the #@$%%#@^! out of the park... but the ball hit the top of the wall and landed in for a double.

still pretty hot. Compare it to any other rap video and its really fresh. Unfortunatly the production stills (and prob the treatment) are cooler than the actual product. Still a success though.

true_fiction, June 28, 2007 at 9:29:03 AM CEST

Hype is my hero, I like anything he does. As far as hip hop videos go, this is easily so far the best one of the year ( there's no real competition). I see Hype repeating some stuff he did with the "Can't Tell Me Nothing" video, but it fits better here. Just waiting on Hype to make another movie.

kayser_sauze, June 28, 2007 at 9:40:10 AM CEST

Yeah another feature. "Belly" was awesome. Not. Harold is a washout.

hiconcept, June 28, 2007 at 10:38:24 AM CEST

I was really excited about this in theory...not as excited in application, but still like it more or less.

But...while this video is totally enjoyable to watch (which I will as it will undoubtably be on tv constantly) it is muddled and honestly somewhat medicore overall, especially given the alleged nine day shoot in Japan (what!?). This is a failure of policy and implementation in my book.

This video has no sense of mood. The vision of "the future" feels dated, seeming to crib from hype's own catalog. It comes off muddled and oddly flat...Robot arms? Motorcycles? Neon? Cassie? ok.

I feel like the video didn't need Akira plot points, it needed to be cool and mysterious and kinetic. While the former is undoubtably Kanye's fault, the second is certainly hypes. The wall performance shot...really? Was that to keep the streets on board? While having a Murakami designed album cover and jeremy scott custom sunglasses and daft punk hanging out? Fucking really?

Now, despite the fact that I like to bust him for stealing hand over fist and general laziness, I would call myself a Hype fan. So I don't feel I'm being hard on him in particular. And I can sort of understand Kanye's odd fixation on him as the dethroned king of a passed era, and how great it is that he's the only one that can afford him anymore. But honestly, the ongoing association between them is making Kanye look like puffy. And no one needs that.

This is what passes for the cutting edge in theory...a big commercial rap record from the one dude with that title who is on some different shit and it even has daft punk in it. One would think it would be different and exciting, and at the very least its coolness would be totally innate. Instead we get "the future" circa when hype first ripped off romanek future wanking.

Kanye talks all day about how much he cares about videos, its time for him to step his game up and hire a new director.

yarooba, June 28, 2007 at 12:44:33 PM CEST

sure hypes taking a few knocks here, but most of the criticisms seem justified. creatively, his videos seem corrupted by the increasing amounts of money that it takes to get them done.

true_fiction, June 28, 2007 at 6:16:07 PM CEST

Belly wasnt the greatest movie, but it show potential that he could be a great film director.

shut up, June 28, 2007 at 9:21:10 PM CEST

Hype is my hero forever, no one can touch him, hands off!

tommyg, June 30, 2007 at 3:40:48 AM CEST

I liked it and found it much more interesting than that Daft Punk hands video which was cool for about 10 seconds. Big budget directors will always be hated on this site, while low budget directors who produce gimicky crap are lauded.

kevathens, June 30, 2007 at 10:41:42 PM CEST

Kanye's Stronger - A somewhat clearer version is up at - flv

tocofan, June 30, 2007 at 11:26:01 PM CEST

-very weak song -it's not even a song just a bad remix

-another big pile of trash video: a meshup of famous movie scenes etc -feels like there were three different videos edited together -japanese signs and writings in a video for an american r'n'b-artist ? wtf??

I think even the best directors fail sometimes. hype has done some breaking edge-videos in the past, but this one really sucks.

wayward, July 6, 2007 at 2:00:16 AM CEST

That was fucking great. Bit soulless, sure, but as a 'beauty' vid, that had some great stuff in it. The perf shots with the giant anime type, and the sunglasses/directional light shots, and the (bit cheesy) light trails shots. It never quite got over the edge into greatness, but it tried. And so many major artist vids are so samey these days. Oh, and the daft punk 'cameo' was fun, and the 3D scanner stuff was hi-res and cheesy - ace.

kevathens, September 14, 2007 at 11:07:34 PM CEST

The 'Daft Hands' guy Austin Hall was on Ellen today. Probably still in high school, probably stoked to be on Ellen. Kanye was on today too talkin' MTV, etc, but didn't reveal anything new.

Daft Hands is up to 2.8M hits.

progosk, September 14, 2007 at 11:22:50 PM CEST

self-censored kanyellen flv

kevathens, October 16, 2007 at 12:52:36 AM CEST

Stronger: Here's the never-before-seen ending, via Kanye's blog. It won Video of the Year at the BET Awards.

Kanye loves the new Dire Straits Chromeo vid, btw..

kayser_sauze, January 21, 2008 at 10:37:52 PM CET



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