Hip-hop Media training

Kanye West Sees “Flashing Lights”

Hip-Hop Media Training

You know that saying, Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it?

Well, it's the second thing I thought after watching Kanye West's video "Flashing Lights."

I interviewed Kanye once--in 2004, the week before College Dropout came out. Of course, I said something that prompted Media Enemy #1 to go off on me. Ever since then, every time I saw him in the news for being out of control, I felt some vindication, and clowned him in my personal blog. Just as he predicted, I told everyone I knew, "Yeah, he cussed me out too."

But watching the "Flashing Lights" video made me think that I was taking my Kanye voodoo doll a bit too seriously.

My first thought after watching "Flashing Lights" was what the hell? Then I felt a knot in my stomach and experienced some guilt for the un-Christian-like thoughts I've had about hip-hop's crybaby.

"Flashing Lights" is my favorite song on the Graduation album. The violin and bass strings mixed with the subtle pounding drums, those erratic laser synthesizers, Dwele's smooth chorus... I blast this every time I hear it. By the time Kanye rhymes, "Like Martin with no Gina," I momentarily forget his obnoxiousness. I'm totally into the vibe. Even though I'm a lyric person, I never pay attention to the message.

I was excited when "Flashing Lights" was released as a single. I was waiting for the video, but was shocked when I saw it.

The video starts with a sports cars speeding down a desert road as the sun sets. The car stops abruptly, and the driver-side door pops open. It's dark, so you can't see who gets out of the car. But you can tell it's a fly chick. She's wearing a fur coat, and she's got that Naomi Campbell runway strut down nicely. As she gets closer to the screen, I see that she's wearing nothing but a bikini underneath the fur. I'm wondering where's she's going.

She walks about 100 feet away from the car and takes off the fur. She throws it on the ground. I'm thinking, This woman is nuts; she better pick that fur coat up. Then, she pours some type of liquid on it and fires up her lighter before tossing it on the coat.

I am so intrigued watching this clip that I tune out the song. I'm trying to figure out what's going on. After the coat catches on fire, the woman turns around and heads back to the car. I'm leaning toward the screen like I'm holding a stack of Lotto tickets and am watching TV, waiting for them to read off the night's winning numbers.

The camera flashes on her bulging bikini, and I imagine LL Cool J's "Jingling Baby" is playing in the background 'cause this lady is about to bounce out of the top.

When she returns to the car, she goes straight for the trunk. I don't know what she's looking for but I need to know what's in there. She pops it open, and there is your boy, Kanye West. He's in the trunk with a fat strip of white tape over his mouth. His hands are bound. The expression on his face scares me.

Remember the movie Misery? Remember the expression on James Caan's face when he managed to climb out of the bed and crawl around the house, trying to escape before Kathy Bates came back home? Remember how close he got to the door?  Remember that expression on his face when he heard Kathy Bates' car pulling up in the driveway? He was thinking, If I don't get back up in that room, up in that bed, and pretend like I never moved, Psycho is going to kill me? Remember how scared you were for him?

That's how I felt about Kanye.

This is some Pulp Fiction.

While in a thong bikini, this chick reaches in the trunk and pulls out a ...

You have to see this video.

I'll put it this way. I can't say that I wrote the treatment for "Flashing Lights" in my head or anything close to it, but I've had my bad thoughts about Mr. West.

But to see this video still shocked me. It caught me off guard. I was not expecting it. It left me feeling bad for him.

I wonder what it means.

Is this a metaphor for how he feels after the loss of his mother?

Could he be saying that having his mother taken from him is like having the greatest thing on earth (by hip-hop standards, fly thong-worthy honey, fancy car) and then having everything turned upside down?

I don't want to trivialize this. But I need to know. When I asked his media rep to direct me to any Kanye interviews where he may have explained the video concept, he said that Kanye had not conducted any press in three months. He had no explanation for the meaning.


What do you think it means?

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