Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I know this is old news and not in the realm of what we usually post, but I had to start somewhere and get the blogging wheels spinning again in SAMEHAT Central.

Have people seen the Japanophilic video for Kanye West's newest single, Stronger? I hadn't heard anything about it before seeing this, and my mind could barely wrap about the post-post-post-modern scratch & stitch strangeness of the whole thing. Quick rundown after these screencaps:



+ The song doesn't just sample Daft Punk's Harder Better Faster Stronger, but is completely built around (on top of?) the entire hook and melody of it.

+ But wait, Daft Punk appears IN the video in full robot regalia? It's um.. a collaboration?

+ Okay, AND director Hype Williams filmed a bunch of the video in Shinjuku, as another example (and a few years late to the scene, don't you think?) of Japan/Anime fascination in pop & hip-hop.

This reminds me a of a book I saw at Kinokuniya a few weeks ago that's cover basically said "Foreigners see Japan as COOL right now, and this is feeding a surging sense of national and cultural pride among us Japanese". Huh.

+ AND HERE'S THE BIG ONE... the entire video is a massive HOMAGE to the AKIRA storyline, with light bikes, hospital hallway Kanye in a psychic battle with riot cops, giant white scanning machines, etc. Wait, what? Didn't Akira come out like 20 years ago?

+ Final Japan tie-in: Takashi Murakami's Kaikai Kiki designed the single's cover:


But, can you argue with this opening line? LET'S GET LOST TONIGHT/YOU CAN BE MY BLACK KATE MOSS TONIGHT. wtf kayne U so crazee.

What do you guys think of the video? It was weirdly nostalgic for me but also like... late '90s post-futurism? Or something?

ADDED: side by side shots of the vid & Akira from this blog :


Gabriel said...

i don't know what to think, really. I guess it's because i don't care for his kind of music...

Anonymous said...

Despite my general distaste for Ero-dance/techo I quite like Daft Punk, and that song happens to be a favorite. I'm pretty indifferent to Kanye but not a bad song. Not quite on the same level as the Robot Chicken Akira homage, but few things are...

Eto Godoy said...

gwen stefani is a little j-popish japanoisephilic too
maybe she likes dir en grey or SIGH...

Anonymous said...

Kanye is pretty bad.
Daft Punk is pretty good (saw 'em live in August and it BUMPED).
didn't watch the video but it seems like a bad idea.

Ryan S said...

I mean, we didn't even get into this here, but the weird Trail of Appropriation is compounded by the fact that HARDER BETTER FASTER STRONGER is built directly off a sample they ripped wholesale from the Edwin Birdsong tune "Cola Bottle Baby".

Daft Punk samples revealed:
(this makes some people hate DP, makes other even more impressed with their technical mastery. I fall somewhere in the middle, I guess.)

It's like when Gwen Stefani (another Asia appropriator, and a particularly tacky/offensive one at that) builds a track off a sample of Between the Sheets by the Isley Brothers--- the EXACT sample that Notorious BIG made so famous by using on his Hypnotize. It's like... wait, SERIOUSLY? You're sampling a song that got famous by sampling another song? wtf.

It's yucky to watch the waves of national/cultural appropriation ebb and flow. I really thought the whole JAPAN = TECHNOPOLIS, JAPANE = ANIME FUTURISM, JAPAN = SO WEIRD season had passed with Sofia Coppola's ugh-inducing Lost in Translation, but I guess some folks still see stuff to mine and cool points to be procured.

That said, if someone like Fall-Out Boy appropriated Umezu and made an old school Horror Manga themed video, I'd probably become their groupie and love them for life. Oh god, do you think that's next-- once Shinjuku fascination fades?

Unknown said...

Media's love for Sinjuku will never fade SameHat2. As long as there is neon still flowing in Shinjuku's veins someone will go down to the Sakuraya and ironically film the iconic film/camera shop.

I actually kinda dug the video. If Kanye ditched the shades for an eyepatch he would have been just like Ayanami Rei from Eva... Ga-so-ba-re Kanye!! GYAAA!!!

Ryan S said...

hey ed,

yeah, for my bitching about the context and climate of approximation, I did get a thrill out of some of the shots. I guess I'd say my least favorite parts were the booty girl and um... the song?

The dorkiest/awesomest part is that he actually did the whole, tortured psychokinetic hospital hallway routine. It totally makes sense to ape Akira, I'm just surprised it took so long!

C.M.B. said...

maybe I don't know those words, but it seems like they keep flashing up gibberish?

zytroop said...

I thought it was pretty well known that he is a hueg nerd. In one of his videos there's a line about Lupin III.

Ryan S said...

I saw some gibberish ones, but a few are right one like:

I think the best few are a giant NE or YO. haha.

Ryan S said...

zytroop: innnteresting. yeah, I know part of his image is "anti-bling" and indie culture... I didn't know about the Lupin III link though :) I mean, if we're talking anime/manga connections, then I think Del and Deltron3030 take the cake for shout-outs to japan-centric nerdity.

Anonymous said...

Gyaaaaa!!! (lol!) now that was some video wasn't it? Memorieeees~~ (Now, if they start mimicking vids from THAT movie, I'd totally oggle them, even if it were... Sean P. Diddy!! Get Stink Bomb Please. thx much)

Not a big fan of rap but I'm a fan of Daft Punk. This track was 'tasteful'. And well, it beats Akira on the "Black Kate Moss" thing. Don't have that in the original. pwnz. lolz.

It's Japan on the orientalist track now. Japan as how westerners see it. Kinda kewl, but too cool even for the Japanese. ^^;;

Anonymous said...

Been on you since Prince was on Apollonia. There's also the fact that that whole daft punk album already had been redone animed-out by Leiji Matsumoto in Interstella...

Anonymous said...

This isn't Kanye's first foray in the Japan scene. He actually rapped on the second single of Japanese rap group Teriyaki Boyz, "I still love H.E.R.", back in January. Their previous single sampled and was produced by Daft Punk. Coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Well, I think we've all gone through an Akira phase at one point in time. Granted mine was about 10-15 years ago, but I've been there. I feel for the guy.

And, hey, if you had an assload of money to spend on making music videos, why not make a homage to Akira?

Anonymous said...

unlike the person who wrote several paragraphs, i did not confuse cultural piracy or whatever with the fact that i fucking hate kanye as a person

easy enough to forget that this exists though when i don't own a tv

fuck robot chicken and every new adult swim show! except long live venture bros!

Anonymous said...

Kanye West also referenced Lupin III in one of his older songs too. (Touch the Sky?)

Anonymous said...

Daft Punk samples revealed:
(this makes some people hate DP, makes other even more impressed with their technical mastery. I fall somewhere in the middle, I guess.)
well dude.. most artists in their genre use samples from other music, it's partially what makes it what it is,but a lot of their good stuff is original, btw i thought the whole collabaration was amazing. XD Kanye is Crazeeee