Wed 20 Jun 2007
Just got back from a nice, small screening party for Kanye’s new “Stronger” video…again, kudos to ‘Ye for knowing how to throw a get-together that is actually appropriate for the occasion. Its a video screening, not a gala, so it was at the small Tribeca Screening Room. But it was for a video that obviously Kanye cares about, and took him a lot of time and sweat investment, so he brought A-Trak to DJ before and after. He had some food trays laid out, and even free drinks (“But not no champagne…that y’all have to pay for” -Kanye). And along with celebrity friends like Swizz Beats and Consequence, Kanye also had media people (self, Shaheem and Rahman from MTV News, Datwon from King Magazine, etc), his business ppls– like LA Reid and Babyface (?!), and also…folks who actually worked on the actual video at the post-production studio. Nice. Only right.
Now before Kanye aired the video and afterward, he talked about the long ordeal that it took to make it, as well as some other really interesting comments about the song itself, the very unapologetic attitude he shows in the rhymes on the song, his hindsight on some of the shortcomings of his other videos, and what happened when he started reading “the hip hop blogs” hahaha…..All in all, having known Kanye years ago when he wasnt yet a huge star…then seeing him over time as he was a huge star…and then now….it felt like he was more comfortable and happy. And more comfortable being happy, lol. Like the confidence without the chip on his shoulder. And it was great to hear his smart humor come through.
I’ll try to remember exactly what he said, my dumb ass didnt have a recorder with me. (and sorry to Kanye if he happens to read this, I am paraphrasing his comments from memory….. because he’s a massive super-stickler about quotes….overly so, IMHO) And whenever the video leaks I’ll post it here but for now, I have a couple pics, and some notes that I took on my way home : ) sorry its not exactly perfect prose. I’m anxious to play Wii (the best thing ever invented! lol)
ABOUT THE MAKING OF THE VIDEO:
-video took 9 days to shoot, directed by Hype Williams, partially styled by June Ambrose. Shots done in the Shibuya section of Tokyo (I am so in love with Japan. I go there like once a month now, and I’m doing alot of business out there too”)…but then it took 3 months to finish in post production….Hype tried to quit 3 times but Kanye convinced him to say on (I think he was joking about the quitting)
-because of the limited budget, they just shot in friends stores…for example, they used the hallway of the BBC store, stairs of the Bape store, got a real motorcycle gang,
-Cassie gueststars in the video as….well, just a model. She flew out with just 3 days notice. (see the second photo above)
-One of the things that prompted ‘Ye to go back and redo parts of the video, was when he showed Atrak footage, and he said that Kanye’s afghan scarf outfit looked stupid. Only problem: that was the outfit in Kanye’s main performance shots, so he had to go back and try to rework things.
-The second verse wasnt even written when Kanye started shooting the video, so he likened this video to a song: “this is the first time I got to make a video the same way I would compose a song…Going back and reworking things, and changing parts all the way up until the end….”
ABOUT THE ALBUM AND “STRONGER”:
-Kanye says the album and the song represented a change, I think in his attitude….he said he had to crawl out of from all the “wack juice” that he was covered in over the last year. Which was very interesting to hear him say….I wonder what wackjuice he was talking about.
-he said that songs like Diamonds, etc were good but that people maybe liked them without really fully relating to them…
Then he was talking to John Brion (the musical director for Kanye’s last album, who added much of the orchestral elements, and who produced Fiona Apple, etc) who is obviously someone that kanye sees as a musical mentor…
“After I played John some stuff, he said, I dont want you to spit raps…well he didnt say that, he said I dont want you to say verses to buy you goodwill….” and that led to Kanye just stripping away some of the intention and just say what he really wanted to say….(then Kanye performed the first verse of Stronger….)
n- n- now th- that don’t kill me
can only make me stronger…
bow in the presence of greatness
cause right now thou has forsaken us
you should be honored by my lateness
that i would even show up to this fake sh*t
so go ahead go nuts go ape sh*t
-Kanye also related that another incident that led to his new attitude. He said there were some mistakes that he recognizes that he made. Like when MTV flew him out to Denmark, where he says he was freezing to death, for the MTV Europe awards. He said It was wrong for me to run up there and wild out, but when they first told me, hey you’re nominated for THREE awards….I thought, wait a minute, so that means that there are two other awards that I can win besides Video of the Year….THIS is gonna be some bullshit….” (LOL) And thats when they gave him the best hip hop video award. That prompted him to run up onstage during the video of the year presentation and voice his displeasure (CLICK HERE TO SEE THAT HILARIOUS CLASSIC FOOTAGE)…..
-Oh, and I’m sure my ppls at Nahright.com and Hiphopmusic.com and other sites will get a kick out of this: then Kanye sarcastically thanked two of his friends for introducing him to hip hop blogs….”So I started reading the hip hop blogs…where they would say Kanye, one of his shoelaces ain’t tied…he’s a bitch……..So those are some of the things that led to ‘Stronger, that don’t kill me can only make me Stronger.‘”
*Now I have to say, there’s only one thing worse than conceit without talent…and that is humility without sincerity. So I can appreciate that Kanye is on his own dilz because he’s not pretending to be not on his own dilz….you know what I mean? It was much better than the ‘woe is me’ hiphop Rodney Dangerfield attitude from before.
ABOUT THE WARDROBE IN THE VIDEO:
-also, about the crazy Levelor-shade white sunglasses, Kanye says they are from Paris and he will be remaking them for this Pastelle clothing line this fall, and that…..
“Stronger is also a fashion statement. Its for people like us, who dress fresh and like fly shit. And if you dont like the song, than more than likely you dont know how to dress either.” lol….always entertaining ‘Ye.
OH SHIT, AND ABOUT THE VIDEO ITSELF:
Well, it’s cool visually…has a futuristic vibe which Kanye said was Hype’s whole mission from the start. There is a robotic special effect scene that reminds me of that old Bjork video by Chris Cunningham where Bjork is actually a mechanical cyborg. Then there are cool scenes around Tokyo, which visually is one of the coolest places on earth. And then there are random shots of Cassie, who is beautiful but whatever. And towards the end, Kanye performs an odd little dance move…which folks were calling his Michael Jackson Billie Jean dance. Lol….I liked the fact that he obviously tried to do something different. Its not hard to just go on the block and get some girls to dance next to a candypainted donk these days.
Also, its funny but Kanye said that originally he and Hype wanted to do this whole neon color scheme for the video….but then after the shoot he was on itunes and saw the new Maroon 5 video, and the new 50 Cent Amusement Park video….both with tons of neon. So there went that idea, lol.
**ok, I just realized how much I’ve written about maybe a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes of my tuesday evening, and I’m embarrassed. Nerd. Apologies : )**
Anyways, here’s the actual song, “Stronger”….I definitely like it. You?