Granderson: Kanye West’s life and art are one. You don’t have to keep watching his music videos. — Ed Lover (19 June 2018)
On June 30, the day before his 45th birthday, Kanye West premiered his first new music video in nearly a year — and it didn’t involve his beloved Kanye West. While it was the most recent video he has released since May 2014, it was also the only new one he has released in 25 years. This is a career-defining moment for the Yeezy Boy himself.
Kanye was at his lowest point, both mentally and emotionally. The release, titled Cruel Summer, showed the endgame of his career. The song was originally meant to be an ode to Michael Jackson’s death, but when West got the song to Rick Rubin, West felt it couldn’t work without MJ’s vocals. His vision for the song was to use just his voice, then the team pushed through and he finally hit record. The result was less a song than a soundscape, a vast sonic collage of all the songs he’d ever recorded, looped by a man who had been a musical genius for a great many years and was now, in the words of the song’s lead, “just like you.”
Kanye West has used his voice for everything from “Puff,” to “Jesus Walks,” to “Stronger,” and the result was something that was both a personal statement about his own career and a love letter to his musical icon and idol. “To me, him being a great vocalist is the highest compliment possible,” West said in an official statement, “he gave me the best songs he could, and I’m very thankful to him for that.”
Throughout the video, the man whose life he has been telling stories since 1979, whose love songs he’s been sharing since his early days, sings the lyrics to every song over and over again. Over and over. It’s a soundscape that is both a personal testament and a salute to a man who is not only one of the pre-eminent artists throughout history, but also one