By Alvin Blanco
Kanye West finally revealed his film, “Runaway,” last Saturday (October 23) on MTV, VH1 and BET simultaneously. While the Chicago rapper-producer had screened the project to music industry insiders and press in Europe, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, it was the first time a national audience saw the flick with their own eyes. As with anything Kanye-related, opinions were mixed, though highly favorable. While some claimed that the 35 minute clip was further evidence of Kanye’s genius, others felt it was hackneyed.
“ ‘Runaway’ is pure art,” says Erika Ramirez, Managing Editor of Honey Mag. “ ‘Ye is brave to open himself up to criticism [and] misunderstanding all for the opportunity to share his genius with us. It’s a 35 minute peak into the way his mind works. Each sequence is entrancing and strengthens the music.”
One of the biggest factors in the hype surrounding “Runaway” was the film's soundtrack featuring new music from Kanye’s upcoming album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy . The piece begins with the track “Dark Fantasy,” produced by Wu-Tang's RZA featuring co-production by No ID and Kanye West, playing in the background. The mix of movie and music was generally considered a positive.
“Hearing songs like ‘Dark Fantasy’ for the very first time made it that much better,” says Andrew Barber, founder of Chicago's FakeShoreDrive. “I actually enjoyed that track more than any of the G.O.O.D. Friday leaks so far. By now, almost the entire album has leaked, so it was nice to be surprised by songs that hadn't hit my radar yet.”
At various points, the film plays out like a music video or an art house indie flick.
“The cinematography of ‘Runaway’ was really well done,” says Brian “B.Dot” Miller, Content Director of RapRadar. “But I was expecting an actual movie! It’s more like a Broadway musical or long music video. But that's what you expect from Kanye. This is the same guy that made a one minute music video.”
On the contrary, Odell “Odeisel” Hall, Editor-in-Chief of PlanetIll, had a different opinion of Kanye’s work.
“On face value, it's a vanity project and a faux high art version of 'Streets is Watching' [by Jay-Z] where the movie only exists as a vehicle to showcase the music," says Hall. "Once you watch it more than once, and that's not easy to do, you realize that he is trying to express himself. Kanye wants it both ways. He wants all the attention that fame brings but none of the responsibility that the spotlight carries.”
“As with all art, it's open to interpretation and I'm sure everyone took away something different from ‘Runaway.’ " adds Barber. "I thought the imagery was vivid and it was shot very well—the colors popped and everything down to the wardrobe was on point. Was it a little weird for some? Sure. But I think that's the effect Kanye was going for—to keep the people talking … by any means necessary.”
Regardless of his true motivations, the buzz on Kanye West and his new album is reaching a fever pitch.
What do you think of “Runaway”? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!