I hate the music video for Kanye West’s Bound 2. I don’t mildly dislike it. I don’t feel ambivalent towards it. I absolutely hate it.
It’s possibly the worst music video I’ve seen all year. It’s worse than What Does The Fox Say? It’s worse than The South Gon Hold It Down. Watch it at your own peril:
Despite being a frequenter of /r/cringe, I wasn’t remotely prepared for the four-minute-and-thirteen-second train wreck above. The video looked like it was filmed entirely on a green screen, spliced together with National Geographic stock footage and then edited in Windows Movie Maker.
Trawl through the hashtag and it becomes immediately apparent that both stans and haters alike are united in their vitriol towards Kanye. And the few that don’t hate it, love it. There’s no middle ground.
But consider for a moment if this was indeed Mr. West’s artistic intent: strong emotion, rather than apathy. The video for Bound 2, in the words of the not-so-great poet Rich Homie Quan, “made you feel some type of way” as opposed to “meh.” Meh, my friends, is how I feel about Lady Gaga…just…meh. I don’t care. I used to be something of a fan, until the hands of time unraveled her as being moderately talented and heavily dressed in gimmicks.
“Only real music is gonna last, all the other bullshit is here today and gone tomorrow…” – Jimmy Smith
Bound 2, on the other hand, is a great song. It’s a throwback to Pink Polo Kanye. Everyone loved Pink Polo Kanye. And everyone had a better version of the Bound 2 music video in their heads (mine was epic). But because the song is now marred by a ridiculous video, I’m
disappointed irritated. I feel strongly about it. So strongly that I woke up at 6:30 am to write this, angered by the realization that I’m not going to forget this lazy excuse for a video anytime soon. The visuals are forever etched in my memory. This moment will forever taint my opinion of Kanye West.
But as a content creator, ask yourself this question: Would you rather have someone feel strongly – albeit negatively – about your work, or feel nothing at all? If no one is moved by your work, you’re irrelevant. Just ask 50 Cent.
Take Lady Gaga, for example. Ms. Stefani Germanotta tries very hard to be provocative. Yet I don’t feel strongly about her. I find her simply crass at this point. I barely cringed during her SNL performance with R. Kelly. It might be different if her music had legs. Sales of Artpop are plummeting and Interscope is hard pressed to recoup their $25 million gamble on their Frankenstein pop starlet. Remember Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (NSFW)? The second-rate Justin Timberlake tried to shock us again with Give It 2 U, but instead proved himself to be a one-trick pony. And Miley Cyrus’ 15-seconds are almost up.
Kanye’s Bound 2, on the other hand, is an anomaly. Which begs the question: is Yeezy trolling us? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that Kanye is capable of so much better. Consider the videos for Good Life, Otis, Gold Digger, Jesus Walks, Heard Em’ Say, Flashing Lights and Power. What happened to that level of quality control? Perhaps the minds at Donda are conducting an elaborate social experiment. Perhaps this is Ye’s way of motivating himself – after all, when your net worth exceeds $100 million, when you’ve got a critically and commercially acclaimed body of work that spans a decade – and when you start equating raised Lambhorgini doors with hands praising the Lord – what could possibly motivate you anymore? Greatness? Legacy? Perhaps this is Kanye’s convoluted way of artificially recreating the conditions of being an underdog.
For now, I think Yeezus isn’t simply satisfied with being the best…he also wants to be the worst.
I want to believe that this is Kanye breaking things down so he can rebuild them. His recent rants are certainly hinting at this. The whole Kim Kardashian thing, the Black Skinheads leak, the Jimmy Kimmel fiasco, and now the Bound 2 video – I want these to be mere episodes in a tragic life-as-art performance gradually building up to a phoenix-like reboot. In the current act of this play, our actor is beginning his descent to rock bottom.
And if Through The Wire has taught us anything about Mr. West, it’s that rock bottom is a solid place to start.