Just a few hours ago, Kanye West presented his shocking “Famous” video to a live audience in Los Angeles and around the world via TIDAL stream.
The bizarre video features naked wax dolls of George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Anna Wintour, Rihanna (who sings the hook for the track), Chris Brown, Kim Kardashian, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, Taylor Swift and Kanye West all laying naked in bed in a modern recreation of Vincent Desiderio’s Sleep painting from 2008.
A far cry from stereotypical hip-hop videos, the work continues Mr. West’s penchant for pushing the genre’s visual boundaries. At the same time, it’s left many people wondering what it all means and whether or not it’s just another stunt to keep his name in headlines around the world.
To help give some clarification and to coincide with the launch of the video, Vanity Fair published an interview with Kanye where he offered up some of his own thoughts on the piece. Although some revealing quotes are seen throughout, Reddit’s HipHopHeads community was quick to jump on the discussion, offering up their best guesses on the “Famous” video’s meaning across a few threads in a more palatable way.
Here are some of the best and most plausible theories:
“Actual thoughts on music video: Kanye picked out some controversial famous people that he’s either worked with or have been associated with in the past. He picked out a wide spectrum of people, probably because there’s no person who likes everyone in the video. The video itself is really uncomfortable, because it mirrors how the media/world is super obsessed with these famous people, almost in a serial killer kind of way. Even when these famous people are really vulnerable (sleeping and naked), we still keep looking at them. At the end though, he thanks them for being famous and kind of having to put up with being famous. There’s a redeeming/clear shot at the end of the whole painting. Reminds me that these people have still put in a lot of work and that there are people who look up to them nonetheless, and how everything might look good on the outside, but we don’t have a clear picture of how it actually is. Kanye breaks the 4th wall at the end by looking at the screen, kind of saying “I know””
“Amazing. Kanye is a genius. The message here is insane. Notice how they’re all controversial figures that all have a relation to Kanye and played a role in his public life. George Bush, Bill Cosby, Taylor, Amber, Ray J, Trump, Kim, Caitlyn, Chris Brown. All famous people that the media has reported about whenever an incident with Kanye happened
The cut up clips of Kanye saying “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” and the GOAT Zane Lowe interview were fantastic.
And then you get the “For being famous” which leads right into the Famous outro, with a zoom out in clear quality of everyone together. That part is stunning.
They’re all enslaved by fame.”
“The idea that each and every celebrity, like trump and caitlyn jenner, just go to sleep at night. With all the chaos that they ensue, and that’s around them, they just lay there for a few minutes until they finally drift asleep. Every night, they have to for at least 7 hours.
It’s an interesting point of view.”
“oh, you didn’t know? Kanye is revolutionizing the game once again. he’s drawing influence from European nobility in an attempt to simultaneously draw light from historically fevered celebrity lime-light aura and use the camera as a mirror from which the lens shines back on the viewer. If You ask me, this is his best work and many here will agree.
The heavy handedness is assuredly a deliberate ploy due to the restricted time nature of the medium. Note how the occupants of the bed are placed based on proximity of relationship rather than traditional eneumeration — some measure of popularity, time, or any other easily quantifiable measure. Ye is placed in the center because he is the creator and this is his universe.
Kim is placed to his left, a tip of his cap to the idea that male bravado is complex and rooted in latent insecurity; you see, she is not his right hand woman. The mother of his children being placed to the left, surely you can agree, is a powerful statement. Compound that groundbreaking expression with the fact that Taylor Swift lies to his right. It, in essence, communicates the idea that the woman who torments him, that he is in competition with, the one he outwardly shuns in many ways, is the relationship his subconscious finds most reliable and worthy of attention.
Time is taken to hover over the (what are at first glance) corporeal inanimates. But add the sound of snoring and a different discourse is borne. Of course, the gravitas in this moment comes from the juxtaposition of what can be noted as physical proof of life, while no real conscious “living” action is being represented. The viewer is called to question, what, exactly, is life? What does it mean to truly live one’s life? Yes, truly masterful indeed.”
“Going along with your point on the uncomfortable feeling of the video, I feel like this gives us a feeling to how these famous people must feel. The awkward, weird, questioning feeling you get from watching this video must be a feeling that these celebrities have all the time, knowing that their every move is constantly being judged and critized by the media and fans.”
“I feel like there was a main theme of questioning what is real and what is manipulated by famous people. If you imagine a reality where all those people are actually sleeping naked together, you start to question everything you thought you knew. Add to that the question of whether or not the bodies in the video are real, plus what parts of the real people are “real” (tattoos, piercings, butt implants, gender reassignments, etc.). There are really so many levels to this piece. I’m really impressed.”
“Kanye is the most famous artist in the world at the moment. An artist’s job is not to make you feel any particular feeling, his job is to just make you feel. And damn it Kanye outdid himself with this shit. People are gonna be talking about this decades from now. Regardless of whether it’s good or bad.”