Scratched Into Our Souls

Music Video Showdown: Kanye West’s “Power” vs. Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” | August 5, 2010

Tonight was a big night for hip-hop music videos, as two powerhouses of the industry revealed music videos, both taking very different approaches. Let’s look closely at both and see what we can determine from both.

First, we have Kanye West’s “Portrait of Power,” which he described on his new twitter as “a portrait…not a video!” Watching the 90 second clip, it becomes instantly clear why Kanye would say this. The video is a hyper-stylized art piece that barely function as traditional video at all: it’s more like a picture infused with touches of motion, like the flowing of hair and the slightest movements taking place as two men fly through the air, poised to separate Kanye’s head from his body, thereby liberating his ego from its worldly constraints. The portrait begins with a close up on Kanye, adorned with the heaviest looking bling I’ve ever seen hanging around his neck, and the camera slowly pans out to reveal more and more detail, until finally an art-scene not far removed from the detail that adorns the Sistine Chapel is revealed. All the while, the first single from West’s upcoming as-yet-untitled fifth album plays in the background, which finds West back in prime form as he raps over a chanting choir and a sample of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” As art, there are clearly multiple meanings to be taken away from this and that will be argued fervently by fans, but it lacks entertainment value. West is clearly thinking on a higher artistic plain here. Frankly, this bodes extremely well for the upcoming album – the last time West really pushed himself to be the greatest was on his masterpiece, 2005’s sprawling Late Registration. If West is back to those levels of artistic output, the upcoming LP is a contender for album of the year.

In the other corner, we have rap megastar Eminem revealing the music video for his incredible “Love The Way You Lie,” featuring a hook courtesy of pop songstress Rihanna. Following two rough albums, Eminem is finally back on track with his latest (aptly titled Recovery), and “Lie” is the finest song he’s penned in ages, showing the capacity to have emotion better than he ever has before. The video, featuring Hollywood cuties Meghan Fox and Dominic Monaghan, is a gripping portrait of a relationship that can only be defined as truly love-hate, with passionate and heartfelt performances by both Fox and Monaghan. Rihanna pulls off her scenes with a fiery intensity like I have never seen from her: the raw emotion with which she sings “just gonna stand there and watch me burn?” shows that she is drawing on past experiences to fuel her performance, and the audience is reminded of how quickly her world fell apart following the infamous incident with R&B singer Chris Brown by the burning buildings surrounding her throughout. Eminem, smartly, doesn’t just want to take center-stage and play the victim in his video like Kanye does in his. Instead, he sits back and raps, alone in a huge field, perhaps symbolizing the anguish and pain of being alone with thoughts in his head that stem from that weird place that makes humans hurt the people they love most. The video, as a whole, is tense, gripping, and emotionally forthright, and the traditional medium is suitable for a song that is as radio-ready as anything Marshall Mathers has ever put to tape.

So, what’s the verdict on these two videos? Personally, I am going to give the upper hand to Eminem’s powerful clip, which will draw you in and leave you on the edge of your seat from the moment you press play. You’ll admire Kanye’s “Portrait of Power” for its ambition and its non-traditional structure, but you’ll probably enjoy Eminem and crew more as a piece of entertainment.

Watch the two videos at the links below:

Kanye West – “Portrait of Power”

Eminem feat. Rihanna – “Love The Way You Lie”

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    About Me: Chris Robinson

    A budding writer and avid music fan from Los Angeles, California, I am a recent graduate of Music History from UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. I've written for the UCLA Daily Bruin, graduated valedictorian from high school, and enjoy many different types of music, from The Beatles to Beethoven, and everything in between. I wrote my senior thesis on lyrical misinterpretations in popular music, focusing on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

    Add me on last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/crob3888

    All music posted on this blog is for sampling purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Go out and buy their music, attend their shows, and buy merchandise.

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