Either the third or fourth (depends if you count the leaked but never released "Monster" monstrosity) video from Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy came out over the weekend, for current single "All of the Lights." And after all the billionaire, art house, heaven-and-hell enormity of the project to this point, this video initially seems like it might be aiming for subtlety. Could it be?
The instrumental interlude plays over black-and-white scenes of a little girl in a poor neighborhood. And this is actually a welcome change of image for this music, because the one part of MBDTF that is getting almost completely ignored is how painfully it hits on the subjects of race and class in America. "All of the Lights" sounds like it cost infinity dollars to make because it's a thousand tracks and about as many guest stars, from Elton John all the way to Fergie, but at its core, the song is about a man's self-destruction and how it causes him to lose his family. We're headed that way at the start of the video. And the music gains power in a way it didn't with all the couture and opulence of the previous videos. Because who actually deserves trumpets and strings and choruses telling their stories: little girls growing up without a dad in the projects or celebrities with mansions and supermodel companions?
But the little girl is blasted from the center of attention by an schizophrenic light sequence that more-or-less continues at a blinding rate for the rest of the video. And we're back to the more is more philosophy that has guided everything else about MBDTF to date. Kanye's wearing a t-shirt that probably cost a thousand dollars, Rihanna's barely wearing anything and Kid Cudi... is also in the video.
It's probably not the point to try and imagine what any of this could be about. We will say that the Hype Williams-directed clip is certainly engaging. After the little girl gets subsumed in the glitz, you would need an attention span of a tenth of a second to get bored by this thing. We suppose the message is something about contrast, but it's not very convincing. Why couldn't it have just been this little girl walking home for five minutes? With this song as background, that would have been the most breathtaking visual accompaniment the album had yet seen.