Concept albums are rare these days. Y’know those albums that tell a coherent story all the way through the entire length. Sometimes these kinds of albums are more of an artistic exercise of the artist who wants to see what kinds of limits he has than of actual general entertainment value. Other times you’ll come across one or two great tunes hidden in this ambitious and difficult undertaking. Rarely do you find one that speaks to most people all the way through. But one they do all have in common is that they are reflections of what’s inside of the artists soul. His or her most impassioned thoughts encapsulated in a thirty to sixty minute musical experience.
Kanye West’s “Runaway” isn’t so much of a concept album than it is a concept song.
Found originally on his My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy album (2010), the narrative of this short 35-minute film is simplistic and engaging. It features the beautiful Selita Ebanks as the Phoenix with Kanye playing himself as her tutor to the “real world”. He teaches her the ways of the world while she teaches him how the ways of the world are flawed.
It seems that Kanye’s message is that too often on this planet, those with different plumage are plucked to become a cookie cutter dinner served on a platter for humanity to devour. Instead of enjoying those differences, the differences are too often snuffed out.
Kanye’s method of expressing this majestically epic concept by using this film shows how he himself is trying to break free of the molds of the world and become the Phoenix…rising from the ashes. To this I applaud his bravery and honesty to being himself. I also must acknowledge and appreciate his ambition when he directed “Runaway” written by Hype Williams (his amazing videography).
Most of the songs in this are beautifully choreographed and could easily be split into individual videos. The one stand-out would be the obvious Michael Jackson tribute (another artist who did things differently) at about the 7:30 mark in the video (full video below). There’s no name for this song other than the chorus has the words “All of the Lights“…so I’ll call it that. And this and the “Runaway” title song at the 13:30 mark would be the only ones I could see stand alone. As a combined entity, Kanye West proves that he’s not done producing quality music and admits that lately he’s been somewhat of a “douchebag”…as the title song says.
But this is only my opinion.
Feel free to enjoy the full 35-minute film and call me a douchebag if you don’t agree.
7.5 floating MJ heads out of 10