Kanye West has budgets that other artists can scarcely dream of, but rarely has anyone done so little with so much. His new video for the Donda track “Hurricane” is a scatterbrained stab at a disaster epic, moving between storms, refugees, religious references, and hooded representations of his collaborators Lil Baby and The Weeknd, all with seemingly-unfinished CGI that flickers in and out of focus from frame to incomprehensible frame.
The visuals open on the surreal image of a piece of coastline, half land and half water, supported by a gray dragon. What is the relationship between these two things? Is that water coming out of the dragon’s mouth, or smoke, or is the mythical creature’s face just dusty for some reason? Surely, you might think, this opening shot is setting up something, but it’s never referenced again.
From there, “Hurricane” moves on to humanoid figures wearing hoodies, their faces purposefully obscured but broken up with little squares, like pixelated acne. As The Weeknd sings, “Lightning strikes the beach,” we get a very literal interpretation, followed by our first shot of The Weeknd himself, identifiable only because his hands jerk up and down with the music.
Refugees flee the storm, though the lines of rain flashing across the screen might double as gunfire. Palm trees quiver without stirring their leaves. As The Weeknd sings “Father hold me close,” we get a faceless representation of Jesus being baptized in the waters. Like the dragon, this striking image is never referenced again.
When it comes time for Lil Baby’s verse, the scene unexpectedly shifts inside, though where, exactly, it’s impossible to say. A figure haphazardly swings its arms to the rapping, surrounded by darkly-hooded bystanders. Is he preaching? Inspiring a revolution? Bothering shoppers at the mall? Anything is possible.
Images of swirling hurricane clouds are better realized, as is the sun over the water. Soon we see a column of light, which could be the remnants of that earlier lightning strike. Follow the column up into the clouds and you’ll find Ye, of course, his face likewise obscured, but his head split to reveal glowing gold inside.
The video ends with a photograph — one of the most famous to come out of Hurricane Katrina — of a flag emerging from a pile of rubble. It’s a powerful image in a video full of powerful images, and no more relevant than the drippy dragon. West’s “Hurricane” video feels like a summation of his whole post Life of Pablo period: a series of good ideas, poorly executed. Watch it below.
Last week Ye shared the music video for “Eazy” in which he buried Pete Davidson alive, though he swears he wasn’t threatening his ex-partner’s new boyfriend. In February he released the half-assed new album Donda 2 exclusively on a $200 stem player.