MTV recently announced that Kanye West will receive the VMAs highest honor this year, by awarding him with the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award. Though the choice may have been partially made to bring in viewers hoping to see another Yeezus moment, West has created some of the most eye-catching videos of the last 15 years. Here are some of Yeezy’s most creative videos, proving why he deserves the recognition
- Jesus Walks, Version 1, 2004, dir. Michael Haussman
West doesn’t shy away from the religious theme of his 2004 hit, setting the video directly inside of a church with Kanye portraying a passionate preacher. The focus really isn’t on West however, as the video follows three troubled souls who are saved by unlikely angels.
- Touch the Sky, 2006, dir. Chris Milk
Set sometime in the 1970s, Kanye West acts as a Evel Kanyevel attempting to fly across the Grand Canyon. The comical video featured cameos by Pamela Anderson, Nia Long, and Tracee Ellis Ross and a musical feature from Lupe Fiasco. Kanye was eventually sued by Evel Knievel for trademark infringement, the two settled out of court amicably.
- Heartless, 2008, dir. Hype Williams
Hype Williams, winner of the 2006 Vanguard Award, made a beautifully eye popping video with this animation. Though this was Williams’ first foray into the animated world, the rotoscoped (where people are actually filmed and then drawn over) video made for a creatively memorable piece of work
- Runaway, 2010, dir. Kanye West
Inspired by Michael Jackson’s “short film” music videos the full-length version of Runaway is nearly 35 minutes long. The extended version for TV doesn’t lose any of the beauty in its 8-minute form. Though some criticized the video for making little logical sense, West still managed to make an aesthetically pleasing work of art.
- Black Skinhead, 2013, dir. Nick Knight
West has always played with colors in his video, but Black Skinhead saw perhaps his darkest imagery. With black, white and gray being his only shades and animated images of barking dogs and a buffed up West the anger and paranoia expressed in the song is brought to life in this powerful video.