I can’t speak for anyone except myself, but there was a time– and I certainly don’t want this to be a “remember such and such?” post– when music videos were something to experience. Rap City and Video Music Box were shows you didn’t just watch, but taped! I have countless video tapes of different videos from the 90s. I mean, some of those videos were so great that you wound up taping the same ones over and over, they were that good.
Then music videos became big events, they became multi-million dollar spectacles, with Hype Williams and Paul Hunter and Little X and [insert big budget music video director here] creating these mini movies that made our hip-hop artists seem larger than life.
Then, all of a sudden, around turn of the century, music videos just got ridiculously boring, even with all the high quality production values. Before you even saw a video, you knew what it was going to be. There’d be a scene in a club or mansion with women, a scene with the rapper and their cars, maybe if they were feeling really creative they’d be out on the Vegas strip (“Lollipop” anyone?). The general consensus was, if you’d seen one rap video, you’d seen them all.
So MTV, what they did was, they stopped airing music videos on their main channel, eventually canceling TRL, and that’s what BET is doing now by canceling Rap City and replacing it with some other new music video show.
They’re basically saying to the artists and the labels (who service them with the videos), give us something good to play– something that will keep our viewers eyes on the television– and we’ll give you some air time. But until you do that, consistently, we’re not giving you shit.
By now, we’ve all pretty much migrated to the web for our video watching anyway. Youtube and Onsmash and Dailymotion, these sites– among others– are the truth for web videos. Still, maybe it’s just me, but despite the fact that I watch videos online (because that’s really the only place I can see them), I don’t enjoy watching videos on a little screen. I have a 37 inch flat screen, I want to see music videos in high definition on there, not on some little tiny box playing within my web browser. That’s just… weak.
And that sucks for Kanye West, who consistently churns out incredible videos to pretty much all of his music. I actually can’t recall Mr. West ever making a video that made me want to change the channel. Even if I didn’t like the song, the video itself would keep me tuned in.
In his new video, for “Heartless” (which by the way is the best song I have heard this year, hands down), Kanye gets Hype “Big Budget” Williams to draw upon a technique called Rotoscoping to keep our eyes glued to the screen. Complex.com describes Rotoscoping as,
“…an animation technique in which illustrators trace over live-action film movement and turn it into animation. Originally, pre-recorded films were projected onto frosted glass panels and re-drawn by an animator, but now it’s all computers. This technique allows animators to perfectly emulate a character’s idiosyncrasies…”
I think this video is an amazing work of art, one that should be experienced on a big screen. And while years ago the big screen meant a movie theater, now I think it just means a television. Because if the television used to be the small screen, and your computer is a smaller screen, and we’re watching videos on there, well… you get the point.
It sucks for Kanye (and ultimately Def Jam) that he’ll have few outlets and opportunities for people to actually see this video. I mean, really, the first time Hype Williams has done something I actually want to watch in god knows how long, and there’s nowhere to watch it except for my little laptop screen. What, you thought I was going to actually sit around and wait for it to air on “106 and Park” or “Sucker Free?”
Who remembers when Michael Jackson’s video for “Remember The Time” aired during prime time on network television back in 1992?
Seeing as how Kanye wants to be the biggest pop star on the planet, do you think he could pull that off? I know he damn well remembers it.