Kanye West: College Dropout Video Anthology
Label: Roc-A-Fella Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Kanye West - the name alone will convince most people to pick up
the "College Dropout Video Anthology." After all he's a platinum
selling, Grammy award winning, critically acclaimed recording
artist signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. By now his reputation
within the business is legendary, and that's with only having one
major label album. Of course Kanye was better known for his
beats than his rhymes up until he recorded the song "Through the
Wire," which he literally recorded through his mouth being wired
shut due to a car accident. The Chaka Khan sample and the Kanye
West beats made it hot, but the charisma and personality that
Kanye displayed took him "Through the Wire" straight to being
an international rap superstar.
What's interesting about the "College Dropout Video Anthology"
is how little Kanye is actually featured in the music videos
ostensibly from his album. In the original "Through the Wire"
video you barely see Kanye at all. Occasional glimpses of him
are found in photos from around the time of his accident and
of him getting his record deal but the video is more about the photos
themselves coming to life. "All Falls Down" has essentially
the same dilemma - the song follows Kanye's girl as she rides
to the airport and goes through all the different security
procedures. Kanye is following behind, so you only see him
as his reflection appears on the limo or as he gets stopped
at the metal detector and goes through X-ray (yes - his
ENTIRE body) because of the metal now in his jaw.
"The New Workout Plan" follows around a bunch of hoodrats
trying to get in shape to pull a rapper, baller or NBA player
but you actually see Anna Nicole Smith making funny cameos
as a fitness trainer and Miri Ben-Ari playing the violin
more than you see Kanye himself.
Perhaps the only time Kanye really plays a starring role in
any of his music videos is during the "Jesus Walks" trilogy,
when during one version he is the pastor at church. To
review this DVD I took the "play all approach" and didn't
realize it would automatically show all three versions of
the video as a result. What's even more confusing is that
the box for the DVD promises a "behind the scenes making
of" hour long feature on these three videos, but it doesn't
come up during "play all" and there's not an option for
"extras" on the top level menu. Instead to access the
bonus featurette you have to select the "Jesus Walks Trilogy"
by itself from the main menu, which opens a sub menu. YMMV
but from this writer's view that's a piss-poor design; and
quite honestly three different videos for one song is two
too many anyway. Either somebody had a very large budget
to spend or a very big ego about how important that song was.
Still that brings us right back to the odd things about
the "College Dropout Video Anthology," is that ostensibly the
star of the show is nowhere to be found. Even in the
mockumentary movie style video for "Two Words" he's only
there a third of the time as he shares billing with both
Mos Def (who has his own storied acting career outside of
music videos) and Freeway. Kanye's videos are entertaining
because of the clever and artistic way they are shot, and
because of the quality of the songs themselves, but one
almost wishes Kanye were MORE vain as opposed to
letting people like Jamie Foxx and Twista steal the show in
"Slow Jamz." The end result is slightly unsatisfying if
you were looking for a compilation more about Kanye, or
at least with some extra features about him. The flipside
of that coin is that if you like his music you'll enjoy
this presentation regardless, and the DVD comes with a
bonus disc of extra Kanye West remixes and tracks, so
you still get your money's worth.
In the end, as successful as he is, Kanye actually needs a better treatment
than this set. We've all heard "Through the Wire" but
seeing what it was really like for him instead of glimpses
in a music video would have made for a great story AND
a more interesting sidebar to the main video feature. It's great to hear
him talk about his career for eight minutes at the end of the "College Dropout"
album but it would be much better to SEE him talk about it, complete
with key interviews from the major players. Hopefully they'll workout a new
plan to try harder next time.
Content: 7 of 10
Layout: 6 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: May 10, 2005