Kanye at a crossroads

So Kanye West has been killing it with the massive undertaking that is his latest album My beautiful dark, twisted fantasy.

Through his music West not so politely raises his middle finger to the naysayers and the also-rans and as a result, we can’t get enough. 

This is the cruel irony of West’s talent and he’s more than aware of it.  He’s now at the ridiculous crossroads of skill, talent and credibility - if he were to film himself sitting on the toilet singing Bananas in Pyjamas he’d still be considered a genius. This is both a blessing and a curse, yet crossing the line is something he’d never allow of himself.

I would claim that any creative suffers the same problems of ego and insecurity that West does, it’s just that when he does, we all know about it.  His honesty is both reassuring and car-crash-uncomfortable. So what to make of Runaway, his 35 minute film extravaganza that acts as a companion piece to his new album?
First of all, it’s a game shifter. The film won’t appeal to all, no doubt some will claim that it’s excessive, which it is, and that it’s egocentric, which it also is. It is high fashion, for sure, but it’s a noteworthy achievement to be able to curate all of those references and sources into a video that so aptly reflects his music.  It’s eclectic but whole and it’s staggeringly beautiful. 

It’s the work of someone that has clearly outgrown his genre and now struggles for definition, and in some cases - considering his man-child behaviour over the last 18 months - our respect.

It has all the pomp and ceremony of a Michael Jackson epic, it even references the King of Pop, yet it has taste and restraint. It’s not MJ gaudy, it’s cutting edge, next year cool.  He even has the audacity to use a Tatra, a Czech supercar that 20 years on in lesser hands would look like a little kit-car. But here is suitably obscure and thoroughly appropriate.

His approach flies in the face of traditional hip-hop where the clothes and the styles so often wear the artist. Watch for the dancers, watch for supermodel Selita Ebanks dressed as a phoenix, watch for the locations, watch for Kanye in his prime -  an auteur and renaissance man. Watch it because after I had, I wanted to go out, create and establish myself. It gave me chills and I can’t remember the last time that happened.

West was right, he is awesome and Taylor Swift should thank him.

What did you think? Is Kanye West's Runaway a game changer?

This article Kanye at a crossroads was originally published in The Age.