Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kanye West Borrows Concept for All of the Lights

Rihanna recently drew criticism and a lawsuit from David LaChappelle for her S&M video. The photographer/director pointed out her video's uncanny similarities to his work. LaChappelle has directed music videos before so if she wanted a LaChappelle look she could have hired him.

Another artist is under fire now for copying. Kanye West and legendary hip-hop music video director Hype Williams have been accused of copying the concept for a portion of Kanye's All of the Lights video. The original video served as the opening for 2009 French film Enter the Void.

Take a look starting at 1:08...

Kanye West
All of the Lights ft. Rihanna

Check out the original video here.

I have to agree. Kanye and Hype lifted this concept. I can see them paying homage but this is too close for comfort. The workmanship isn't even close to the original, lessening the Kanye clip to cheap imitation.

This begs the question of whether or not any of our rising icons are original. I do believe wholeheartedly in inspiration but can you be considered an icon if most of what you do is derivative of the work of someone else? Beyoncé has been accused of copying plenty of things. Even the video for Single Ladies, arguably her best, was based on the Fosse choreography for Gwen Verdon's Mexican Breakfast dance. Pop music's biggest star Lady Gaga seems to draw all of her ideas from the past. David Bowie, Grace Jones, Madonna, and others seem to have inspired her every move. Her record breaking new single Born This Way has been widely attacked for sounding like nothing more than Madonna's Express Yourself.

The pop stars of the 80s such as Madonna, Michael and Janet Jackson, and Prince were so groundbreaking that their visuals may be hard to live up to. They rose to fame in the era when visuals were becoming more important. Also, most of our pop stars today grew up watching them. Therefore, the influence more than likely can't be helped.
I typically don't mind someone grabbing something and making it their own. However, the younger generations are seeing these works as new ideas, ignoring the references.
As much as I love Usher's work and it's tribute to Michael Jackson and Rihanna's constant Madonna/Janet style reinvention, I am beginning to wonder if we will ever see anything new. Or will we forever be subjected to mere tributes to the past?